Answers from Industry Experts
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How do you get your customers to post their experiences with your products on discussion forums?
Ryan Rutan answered:
First, congrats on being awesome and getting great feedback! When I receive great reviews by email - I profusely thank them for the feedback, let them know how much it means to me, and then I often ask the client if they'd be willing to post that publicly and offer a few site links as suggestions. Generally they are more than happy to do that. This may sound simplistic - and it is - but it has also proven quite effective. I'd be happy to provide some examples - just send me a message.
1 answer • about 1 hour
How do we decide which cloud applications to run our business on?
Ryan Rutan answered:
I once faced a similar issue - I needed a CRM that could also manage the production of standardized proposals and track them from creation through sending and the client acceptance / revision / rejection stages and then create a project and assign resources dynamically. All the systems at the time could handle some of that - but none did all of that. Building the entire thing from scratch was too expensive and rife with risk. What I was able to do was find an open source CRM (SugarCRM) and then hired out the development of the additional features. By building on the backbone of a system that covered most of the needs, and still allowed us to extend the product ourselves, we got just what we needed - within a budget we could live with. There may be an analogous opportunity for you to do the same. Happy to discuss some of the pitfalls and challenges we encountered along the way.
1 answer • about 1 hour
My company is developing fully patented tech for a secure transaction e-commerce platform. How can I build pre-launch traction?
Ryan Rutan answered:
I'm answering with the assumption that you are going to deploy this B2B rather than B2C. Developing traction before the fact for business or enterprise solutions can be tough - you can't presell them in the way that you can with a widget, you can't drive masses of consumer traffic to them to test messaging, or gather email signups with the same efficacy. One technique I've deployed in the past was to develop a series of "expert focus groups" - inviting people who would be future power users / decision holders on utilizing my solution. By approaching them in this way - you've got an ask that appeals to their good nature (okay, and some ego) in asking for their help, rather than overtly asking for their business. It's a great way to develop relationships with people who can provide you amazing feedback now, and are potential customers later. I also treated them as groups - trying to foster communication amongst them. Seeing the participation of the others in the group encouraged them to be more active / responsive. I took it a step further with a handful who I thought were key as early "hero" clients that I wanted as social proof - and after engaging them for a month or more as "advisors" (not board of advisors) - asking them what they felt was still necessary to accomplish before they would be able to say yes to purchasing (not asking for them to buy, just to advise me where the solution still needed improvement). Some of them suggested things well outside my planned roadmap, and I thanked them for the feedback and included them as future possible features. Others provided minor tweaks or indicated things that were on the horizon from a development standpoint - and I told them that "those were amazing inputs, and that I'd include them right away." I followed up with them days or weeks later when those were implemented and asked them to re-evaluate, and when the feedback was good, asked them for the sale (finding gentle ways of reminding them that I'd closed the gap they had identified). Lastly, some said that they wouldn't add anything at all - and I'd ask them immediately to become early clients, explaining how important they were as not only customers but as someone who "understood what we were doing to the core". I'm over-simplifying of course, their responses didn't fall neatly into three buckets, and there were other response types as well (like people immediately responding that they didn't have budget - even though that's not what I asked), but those were the three categories of responses that I focused on. Happy to provide some tips on how to set this up for your particular circumstances. Just shoot me a message.
1 answer • 1 day
Where can I find independent corporate lawyers specialized in startups? We are in the process of updating and reviewing our cap table.
Peter Szymanski answered:
If there is one thing that entrepreneurs, CEOs, CFO's and COO's can all agree on it's this ==> big firm legal fees are expensive! It's why I started Silicon Valley Counsel. I was a big-firm attorney at Cooley for 7+ years, then a General Counsel at a tech startup for almost three. This made me realize that growing companies cannot afford big-firm rates but need the assurance that their legal details are big-firm worthy (when being acquired, doing a financing or even going IPO). I have run an on-demand General Counsel business for the past 4 years. I help Silicon Valley companies, and increasingly national and international SMBs as well. Part of the cost savings I provide is via technologies I implement, and less overhead. Mostly, it's know how though having already navigated the growing company landscape many times. Big firms are simply not incentivized to learn what I have learned. Specifically I help with cap tables, equity financings, contracts that get through the other side's legal smoothly yet with protections, and upside. I also build contract templates that help a company re-use without having to come back and pay again and again. If this is of interest, check out my profile here on Clarity.
1 answer • 1 day
Can I assume that my business model is working if a small batch of people pay a yearly fee to access my B2C product ?
Giuliano Senese answered:
I would do another test run to confirm that it wasn't a one-time lucky streak that you hit. These numbers are definitely relevant to investors as they want to know the conversion rates. You should calculate your Customer Acquisition costs as this number will be important to investors. However, looking at your numbers your model seems to be working just fine.
3 answers • 1 day
Is it a viable idea to start a fee-based live video instruction website?
Joseph Peterson answered:
An acquaintance of mine works full time doing 1-on-1 video instruction for a very small niche topic. If an individual can succeed with that business model, even after reinventing every wheel, and do well enough to give up an engineer's salary, then surely a broader platform could succeed. Economies of scale should save individual instructors time, energy, and money as far as marketing and infrastructure are concerned. Just depends on implementation ...
2 answers • 1 day
Starting a new business: Hybrid application or native application?
Mircea Trofimciuc answered:
I would suggest you to go with ngAngular (http://ngcordova.com/) as it is a fast way to get things done quick. There are a lot of plugins that are good to go out of the box, including Camera and GPS.
1 answer • 1 day
What is the right business/revenue model for a personalized online learning platform for business professionals?
Ryan Rutan answered:
There are merits to both options, but unless your economics dictate one over the other, the choice should be made by your consumers. I would suggest that you use landing pages to test both pricing models and let the relative click-through-rates tell you which is the right way to go. Validate the consumer preferred model before you commit to it. You may discover one as a clear winner overall, or that one wins out in a key market segment. You may also find that the distribution is fairly even. Keep in mind that it is possible to utilize both - think Amazon selling audio books, but also offering Audible Subscriptions. Ultimately, you'll want to make sure that the economics work for you - and focus on maximizing customer LTV (life time value - ie the total you'll earn per customer over the lifetime of that customer). I'm happy to explain the process of testing these (even before the product exists) in detail. Just shoot me a message.
5 answers • 3 days
I am currently building a platform that will match job seekers with companies. What could be the best channel for targetting small companies?
Charis(Bob) Rafailidis answered:
Hi, I am Bob and I have helped several platform (marketplace) startups on growth, monetization and other topics. I'd really value a bit more info about your startup, how are you monetizing? Do the companies pay a fee and if yes, is it on a monthly basis or per job posted or other? Anyway, there is no "best channel" rule for growth and my advice is to always test a few different channels on a small scale. Then gather results and increase your focus on the channel(s) that work best. Of course, there are a few channels that are used by almost any tech startup like: - Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Twitter etc) - Cold Calling/Emailing - Media/Press * Direct 1-on-1 (visiting the companies and presenting your startup) I put the last one with * because if you are at a very early stage (haven't even launched your platform/website online) or you are as you said, currently building, this is a channel I would go for, if I were in your shoes. At this stage, apart from acquiring the actual users to feed the one side of the market (the companies which will post the jobs) what's very important is for you to understand their needs, too. Talk to them, present them your idea and why you are different/better than other existing solutions. Even if you use other channels (mostly depends on your budget), it's essential for your stage to get a deep understanding of your users and market. I'd be happy to discuss more on your platform, how to boost your growth, initial outreaches, onboarding optimization and more through a call. Bonus #1: Here's a high-end advisory blog with tons of valuable info for you and which I am a contributor member of: platformed.info Bonus #2: workable.com a very similar startup to you. Check them out they are good To your success Charis(Bob) Rafailidis
3 answers • 3 days
I have an idea for an advertising platform that may be used on mobile and web platforms. What steps can I take to make it a reality?
José Luis Núñez answered:
Hi, I reviewed a lot of ideas trying to join Wayra, the Telefonica backed accelerator. Everyone thinks his/her idea is great, but only a few are really disruptive and have potential enough to be pushed by the market. Better than starting to build it, try to surf the Internet and look for similar ideas. Understand what's really new to support your idea, the potential risks if you finally build a business over it and try to compare your skills and background with other people building something similar. After that, if you are still convinced it's worthy to make it your live, start looking a tech cofounder that will help you to turn the idea into reality.
1 answer • 3 days
New Business Development
What is the best country to start an online marketing and design business in?
Edmund John answered:
This is highly contingent upon where you are based (and official tax resident) as you stated you will be the sole owner. Recommend you speak to a tax attorney for this regard. Since you are a sole owner, an LLC might provide better liability/asset protection. One country to look at may be Nevis - which gives excellent asset protection and is 'tax-transparent'. A LLC in a pro-business state in the USA (Wyoming, Delaware, Nevada) is another option which has a good reputation, and low cost to get up and running. However, longer term accounting and compliance can be more expensive than some other jurisdictions. You mentioned supporting your credibility - in that regard Singapore and Hong Kong are two reputable jurisdictions with minimal red tap, with 0% effective taxation possible if no transactions take place in the jurisdiction*. This is a general overview and not legal or tax advice.
2 answers • 2 days
I want to create a website where users can create and showcase their public profile page like https://about.me. How can I build this kind of website?
Hernan Jaramillo answered:
You can always go the freelance mode and post requirements on sites such as: 99designs, fiverr or upwork Or search for "about.me" clone
4 answers • 4 days
New chiropractic office in a new city with limited contacts. Looking for ideas for lead generation without devaluing product/service.
Joseph Peterson answered:
Depending on your surrounding circumstances, I might have an idea or two. If you'd care to share some additional details via Clarity.fm email, then I could determine if my recommendations are worth a call or not. They might be, or they might not be. I'll know right away.
7 answers • 4 days
Should I setup and staff a small jewellery workshop to complement our main jewellery business?
Vlad Fratila answered:
Hi! I don't have experience in your field, but I just wanted to say congrats for the idea, and for your business in general: it sounds like you're doing good! It sounds like you have two problems to overcome: money and the actual shop. Money-wise, if you think 6k/month would cover salary, rent, utilities and other expenses, then you're already winning: like you said, you'd provide a better service to your customers, and that is very valuable on its own. Not to mention opening another line of business, which helps long-term. Of course, you should factor in the initial investment in static assets; but I expect asset turnover to be quite good for you: you'll be able to maintain a steady flow of orders, so you're safe in assuming that your initial investment in lasers, etc will pay off. So, all that remains is to find a good jeweller, right? Sorry for my rant :) and best of luck! Vlad
2 answers • 1 day
I am starting two new companies, but one requires 80% of my time, how do I hold onto the other one and scale it up?
Jason Lengstorf answered:
To play devil's advocate here, does the second company need to survive? Meaning mainly: is there a large enough potential for long-term gain to keep pushing on it? As entrepreneurs, it can be tempting to put a lot of irons in the fire in hopes one of them really takes off. It's understandable — after all, with two lottery tickets, you're twice as likely to win the lottery, right? The catch there is that starting a business isn't like buying a lottery ticket. It's like having a child. Sure, with 20 children there's theoretically 20X the possibility that one of your offspring will become President, but that also means you need to provide 20X the love, care, resources, and effort. So while the temptation is to start lots of businesses, the real job of an entrepreneur is to cut away dead weight and time drains — if you put 100% of your effort into one child instead of 5% effort into 20 children, the one child has a far better chance. In my professional life I've started about a dozen side projects. Most of them never got far because I priorities my main business and let the side project starve. Others limped along and made a little money, but added lots of time commitment for me, which ultimately strained my main business. One got lucky and I was able to use it as a bargaining chip in a bigger deal. All that being said, if you can justify keeping the second business alive, put your efforts toward finding someone who can run the company without being managed. Then — and this is the hard part — let go entirely. Stop checking the email account and social feeds. Don't worry about the day-to-day finances. Just check the monthly status report and trust the person you find to do a good job on their own. That way you can focus on your main business, which — judging by the 80% time commitment, at least — you value most. I've had to go through this process a few times — moved to a board position in an agency I started with no authority except to break a tie vote; sold two companies entirely; folded another business into a larger deal — and I know it's painful, and it's hard not to believe that you're the only person capable of running your idea. But other people can. Probably better. If you let them. If you'd like to go through some strategies or discuss how I handed off a few of my companies, I'm happy to help. Just drop me a line and we'll set something up.
1 answer • 2 days
How do you position a communications platform to investors?
Alessandro Daliana answered:
All business exist because they own and/or control an asset that is used in their products/services, which customers acquire because they derive a competitive advantage from using it to achieve a specific task. Businesses survive by generating a rate of return on that asset that is higher than the cost of their financing. We call the asset, the Key Component, because without it the rest of the business cannot exist. The Key Component is an asset recognized by the law and protected because of it. The attributes your company all the rights and obligations to the Key Component thereby creating a barrier to entry for the competition. Investors are buying a share in your company to (1) own part of the Key Component and (2) provide you with the funds necessary to ACCELERATE the speed at which you generate a return on it. These are the specifics all investors seek in a presentation. What is the asset? Is it protected? How long can it be protected? Who (specifically) derives a competitive advantage from using it? Doing what (specific) task? By what process does the company achieve this? What are the risks at all phases of the process? What is the rate of return on the Key Component? What is the cost of financing? How do the investors exit and realize their money (invested capital plus profit for the use of their money)? This all has to be simple so as to show you have really understood it. And, you have to be able to rattle it off in 5-10 minutes in order to be credible. Please contact me if you wish to go further into detail.
2 answers • 5 days
Technology Product Development
Where can I find a mentor knowledgeable on the Internet Of Things?
Ryan Rutan answered:
Right here on Clarity! Go search IoT and you'll get a list of 7 awesome people who you can reach out to. I'll personally recommend Utz Baldwin - we worked with Utz and his company Ube / Plum when they were fundraising (on our platform Fundable). He's a great guy, a fantastic entrepreneur, and knows IoT better than anyone else I know. Happy Hunting!
1 answer • 44 minutes
New Business Development
I have a business idea that I want to bring to life and am looking for collaborators to partner with. Where can I meet them (on/offline)?
Thomas Knoll answered:
I've met co-founders and team members through participating in Startup Weekend evens. (The last two companies I sold were started at startup weekends!) But, I generally recommend participating in others groups or pitching different ideas than you're trying to find a co-founder for. Another great resource is FounderDating.com Just remember, don't think of it as speed dating... Think of it as Match.com and trying to find a lifelong partner.
5 answers • 7 days
In your opinion, what played the biggest role in the success of your business?
Frank La Pira (PhD) answered:
I can give you the standard answer, brand, audience, marketing and half a dozen other things. You can spend thousands on any or all of those three things but if you don't grind, get better all the time and learn. You've wasted your money and time. 1. Grinding. The reality is just grinding away every day. 14-15 hours a day 6-7 days a week, not for a month, a year, 2 years... whatever it takes. Never say die attitude. Whilst our competitors are on holidays or just slacking off. We're still working stealing their customers. If you don't keep grinding away you'll never succeed. Of course just grinding away isn't enough. 2. Continuous improvement Never settling, learning from mistakes, recovering from it and just keep grinding away. Just focus on just getting better all the time. What has made us successful, (4x) was just getting better. Better at knowing our customers, better at producing the product. Better at communicating with our audience. Better at customer service, better at everything that matters to our industry, our market. 3. Finally, it's self-education. Being open minded to new knowledge. Learning from others, learning from customers, learning from competitors. Learning from successful entrepreneurs in other industries. Constantly learning new skills and learning to be a better entrepreneur. If you really want to succeed. Grind, work on getting better and keep learning. Everything else may be helpful but if you don't do these three things you are relying on luck.
9 answers • 5 days
Real Estate Investment
Real Estate Development
With the euro becoming weaker, is it the right time to buy a property in Europe?
Jonathan Updyke answered:
With the over production of the us dollar and the euro becoming weaker the real question is will the European nations ever settle on a unified monitory system (personally i doubt it will ever happen) and how long are you willing to wait for the market to go back up. Also me personally I would stick to your strengths, if you are a house flipper stick with that, if you are an investor and rent till the market is ready that would be my suggestion as the safest bet for your money. Best investment places are resort and tourist locations or just outside of those locations where people want to be but wont want to pay prime rates, also lower taxes in those locations so more profit for you. If you are looking for more information on prediction of human tendencies feel free to give me a call.
2 answers • 8 days
How can I make a living out of writing and publishing online books?
Austin Church answered:
Hi there, A good question to consider is this: are people willing to pay to read what you want to write? Do your interests represent a big enough "market" to create and sustain a livelihood? People who make a living out of publishing online seem to have one thing in common: they figure out where their interests intersect with other people's interests. I'm not talking about generating a ton of link bait. I'm talking about finding a hungry crowd. You can sell a world-class hamburger in a vegetarian neighborhood and still go out of business. You can publish excellent articles and blog posts on the arts and humanities, and still make no money. Here's some practical advice for finding your hungry crowd(s): Go to Medium.com. Do some research. Identify the writers who are already publishing on the subjects that interest you. What kind of following have they built up? How many recommends do their stories get on average? Which stories are their most popular? What's their strategy? Do their stories route readers to an external blog or website? Can you figure out how they are making money? If you do "competitive analysis" on two to three dozen arts & humanities writers, then you'll notice some patterns. You'll notice that some topics sell better than others. Or some stylistic elements or flourishes have enabled certain writers to build an audience quickly. Use your analysis to reverse engineer your audience. You can't make a living publishing online until you have an audience. Lastly, watch this video, and pay attention to the part at the end about left-handed vampire movies: https://kicktastic.com/video/convince-convert-jay-baer/. Hope this helps, Austin
5 answers • 8 days
How can a platform where users would benefit from sharing and connecting with each other, attract initial users?
Andrew J Scott answered:
You need to think about the user experience for the first 50 people, as you are doing. If you're not solving a problem for them, then there is no value, so the user base will not grow. It's always easy to envision a product or service which if you have e.g 1m users is valuable; but the hard part is getting there. If your service is ONLY valuable with 1m , or 1k users, then you need to find a different reason to onboard them, so they find some different value until you get critical mass to begin delivering on your vision. e.g Facebook started by solving the problem of who is in my year at college to flirt with (hence the Poke button, amongst other things), later it delivered alternative value. They also just "onboarded" everyone in one go, which helped. So, you need to narrow your focus to a segment of your target audience you can focus on, target, and onboard, by vertical, geography, or some other measure. Get the first 50 people, or even 5(!) people happy, because you deliver them some value, then you can start building on that start.
5 answers • 7 days
How do big organizations bring a sense of "belonging" to their employees?
Chesley Chen answered:
This is a great question and one that I work on every single day in my role as CEO. I've run and worked for many companies great and small as CEO, minimum wager, and everything in between. I've run business units for global companies like Goldman Sachs, consulted with other highly-engaged companies like Honda, and have been CEO for small companies and start-ups you've probably never heard of. The lessons I've learned about world class employee engagement seem to transcend industries and size of firm. As a CEO, I do my best to practice these lessons every day with just about every decision I make and every conversation I have with my employees. It takes a combination of leadership style, operating culture, and good supporting systems. I work hard at employee engagement and hopefully get it more right than wrong each day. It's a big topic so please set-up a call if you want to learn more. I'd be more than happy to share what I've learned and the real life stories that go with those learnings. All the best.
5 answers • 4 days
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If someone misspells my company when Googling, how do I make sure they find my site? Anything besides buying domain names of the misspelled versions?
William Alvarez answered:
Google Search is already smart enough to capture those misspellings and shows recommendations for the correct words. Assuming that your website has been around for a while, Google will show users the branded site first in the results pages so the clicks will go there. Google figures out possible misspellings and their likely correct spellings by using words it finds while searching the web and processing searchers queries. So, unlike many spelling correctors, Google can suggest common spellings for proper nouns (names and places), and words that may not appear in a dictionary. I usually use misspellings in my clients Paid Search campaigns to capture all the possible traffic when I see that there's a high number of searches for those variations. I advise against buying domain names for the purpose of capturing that traffic. It will help, though, for people entering the exact domain name directly into the browser. And if you do so, make sure that they all redirect via a permanent 301 redirect to the original one, but do not use them for tricky SEO purposes.
3 answers • 8 days
How can I leverage my 13 years of experience as a television anchor and reporter into a profitable online business that helps people?
Sergio Meinardi answered:
How people will benefit from your business? Begin answering this question. This answer will help you find your ideal target, how and when they could be reached by your service, what problems can arise and, eventually, even set a price. It's a kind of negotiation.
3 answers • 8 days
Why don't small business retailers have e-commerce stores on their websites? How do I show small business owners the benefits of e-commerce?
Chris Remus answered:
I live in Brooklyn, NY, which is a really fertile ground for small business retailers. My experience speaking with a lot of the shop owners is that they simply don't have the resources to maintain an online presence. Just keeping the brick and mortar operation running consumes most, if not all of their time, especially if the are also creating and producing their own products. For many that I do see take a shot at e-commerce retailing, they may get Shopify/Squarespace site set-up, then just run out of steam to keep it going. One innovative, in-between approach that I've seen one of my favorite shops take, is to actually focus on using a single social media channel, Instagram, and maintain an e-commerce function through it. (See @peopleof2morrow on Instagram)
5 answers • 7 days
Revenue & Profit Growth
How do I increase my website's revenue growth at a faster rate?
Jamil Velji answered:
Hi there, I'm going to assume based on numbers and that you can't pay a salary to yourself at $165k in revenue that you're working with an ecommerce business or some type of business that has a hard cost to what you're selling. You have a good growth rate so far. But let's shift focus towards getting your business into a place where you can make it a full-time gig. A key here will be turning your existing customers into repeat customers and increasing their lifetime value. If you're an ecommerce business, this means upselling them into products that compliment their past purchase. If you are in some other product space, it's offering them a higher value upsell to increase their value. A great example of doing this in ecommerce is with super food companies. These stores sell dehydrated or freeze dried super foods in packages, and their upsell is to go from a one-time purchase into a subscription. When they have someone on a 3-month, 6-month or 12-month subscription, they've effectively increased that customer's value by 3x, 6x or 12x. That means if you have $165k coming in this year from all new customers, moving into something subscription based could push that revenue from $165k into $495k, 990k or $1.188m. Assuming subscription is possible with your product. If it is not possible, then you will want to increase the number of repeat purchasers. Selling them into products that compliment their past purchases can get you into doubling or tripling a customers value if you are selling products of equal or greater value. I hope this helps, but I'd love to learn more about your business and what you are actually selling. If you're interested in talking to me further, send me a message on Clarity!
6 answers • 8 days
What is the best tool for pre-hire, sales representative personality testing?
James Michael answered:
I would be curious to know why you feel it is important to use personality testing. I have hired over 20 sales reps and I have never used any testing. I have conversations with my hires because that is going to tell me more about their personality any day than a test. Plus you might eliminate someone because of a test score that could be a great fit for your organization. I have a pretty strong process for hiring sales people and could share with you my steps and even the questions if you would like.
6 answers • 8 days
How can I convince customers that we offer a fair price if we're providing a new service that does not yet exist?
Humberto Valle answered:
What you are asking for has one simple answer: Marketing. I assume however that you would want a more specific how to guide for such marketing efforts. I won't venture in giving you a ton of possible irrelevant examples but I would like start our conversation by saying that if there is no market demand and you do have a clever useful product you need to market the emotional need and consider why it hasn't been served. When you find that this is what you leverage.
7 answers • 9 days
How do we identify and hire technical talent in a small city?
Arjun Buxi answered:
Hi there, great question! The real question is : do you intend to stay in that city for a fair amount of time? If so then connect your brand to the ethos of the city and attract people who wouldn't mind moving to get a good job. Right away, your talent pool is based in two areas : the nearest metropolitan area within two hours or so, and the nearest college campus. For the latter, create a relationship with the Career Center of the school and get help developing profiles that are attractively written. Make presentations in their classes especially for graduating seniors. As for the metro, connect with their business development center or chamber of commerce (informally if needed). As you can see, there are a lot of long term and short term solutions at hand, but first let's talk to plan out your talent needs. Happy to help!
5 answers • 9 days
Are there any open-source marketplaces available for building websites?
Lara Littlefield answered:
It sounds like you are headed in the direction of WordPress. Do you want to create an e-commerce portion, too? Check out http://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/. Cheers! Let me know if you have any questions.
5 answers • 10 days
Do co-founders decide everything together or does the CEO call the shots?
Rodger Stephens answered:
Hi! Partner disagreements happen all the time. The good news is, most of the time, they are disagreements that get resolved for the better. I'm a business performance expert, a CPA, a CGMA and highly experienced at leadership and managing companies. Allow me to suggest some options for you. This looks like you and your partner need to reach an agreement on how to operate the company. You can do this verbally or you can do it in writing with an operating agreement. I suggest you get this agreement in writing. The results you seek are to clearly define, and understand between both of you, the way both of you may smoothly run the company. Operating agreements may have many different segments in it including (but not limited to) defining everything from who has an operating role vs who doesn't, your responsibilities, how the company ownership and profits are split, entry and exits of partners and even the method of accounting chosen. Once you decide with your partner who has authority regarding your product direction, the person responsible should provide good leadership to see the products are well developed, and the other should follow their respective role as agreed and defer product development decisions to the other. If one partner breaks out of the agreed role, you should have a private, positive conversation with your partner to set your boundaries and remain in your agreed roles. When this happens, you need to have this conversation within a reasonable amount of time after the disagreement. Don't be afraid of what they think, because your product and your company are at risk. Just be respectful and let them know they crossed the line and ask that they step back behind it. I hope this helps! Please feel free to call me if you need help with this operating agreement, including a sample for your reference. To prepare it, you can expect you'll need a legal expert and a business expert to contribute to your desired operating agreement. Best of Luck! Rodger Stephens, CPA, CGMA Business Performance Expert
9 answers • 10 days
My IOS game app is lost in the sea of apps. How can I grab more attention and spike sales?
Gary Cao answered:
Get in touch with YouTubers and game streamers on Twitch and ask them to feature your game in one of their videos. It might be hard to approach celebrity vloggers and streamers so try those with fewer subscribers. They're usually desperate for unique content and games so you might have better luck with that to build traction.
8 answers • 5 days
I want to build a expert marketplace directory listing website, which wordpress theme I should use?
Dimitry Chamy answered:
The right solution will depend on having a clearer understanding of the goals of your directory and the needs of your users. But this is an area with many possible solutions: http://www.wpmayor.com/best-directory-plugins-for-wordpress/ Review all of the above offerings (and any others you find) and compare their capabilities with your expectations. Evaluate them several times wearing different hats: (a) the manager / owner of the marketplace: bulk populating listings, editing & moderation, seo, upgrades and payments, etc... (b) a supply-side user of the market, i.e., an expert with a free listing as well as one with a premium listing, if applicable: creating, editing, ugrading, sharing and publicizing their listings etc.. Can they easily have multiple listings or locations, what fields are available to add details to their listings and do these prevent errors like mispelled categories and tags, etc... (c) the end user looking for experts in various scenarios: casual browser, looking for a particular expert for the first time, returning user trying to do more advance actions like: saving experts for later, retrieving favorites, sharing an expert with someone else or on social media networks, contacting experts, rating or reviewing experts. It is really important to also create a matrix of features and benefits for all the plugins you find and add qualitative evaluations of each. If you are not sure how to benchmark these start by looking outside of WordPress by looking at established marketplaces (in and out of your sector) to develop a list of criteria. Finally, make sure the vendor of the plugin you choose is there for the long term, is well regarded by the community, and provides adequate documentation and support. Look at support forums closely, search for unanswered threads, view the change logs / development roadmaps, and contact the developers with pre sales questions.
3 answers • 11 days
We've developed a product for Learning Center Management and are already being used by a few education centers. How can I scale up?
Asen Gyczew answered:
Hi Heavily depends on you payback time for customer (how long in months it takes you to get money back invested in acquiring them). If it is more than 12 months than you have to work on reducing the cost of acquisition. Without lowering the cost (and lowering the payback time) the growth wthout funding will kill you - you will have exhausted all the money before getting to the payback time. The other thing to do when you have long payback time is to work on increasing the value of customer. This is usually done by introducing annual payment (for SaaS solutions), up-selling, cross-selling and other (full list how to do it you will find here:https://medium.com/@asengyczew/19-best-ways-to-boost-your-ltv-the-ultimate-guide-61b9417fd779) Now, if the payback time is short (6-12 months) than just try to exhaust the market - get 100% penetration, approach new potential customers, The bigger share you want to get the bigger range of acquiring customers you will have to use. Some people do not react to offers by mail or phone so you have to go old-school and have direct sales. Sometimes, the niche is too small for your appetite (or too small to sustain the business in the long run). In those cases you have to find other customers – either go global or look for other similar segments / markets where you can use the same solutions. Hope it helps Best Asen
3 answers • 11 days
Raising Venture Capital
I am an experienced lobster businessman in Nova Scotia. Where can I turn to find investments to take my company to the next level?
Alessandro Daliana answered:
So what?! Sorry to be harsh but you haven't told me why I should care. Not to mention, this presentation is sloppy: you first write $.25/lb and then per share. Which makes me think you won't take care of investors' money let alone a return. The key to attracting investors, regardless of whether they come from a small town or big city, is tell them what that money buys, how it will be used, and how they will see it and their return again. And, in what timeframe all this is going to happen. And, what are the risks involved in making this all happen because they, the investors, are not fourth generation lobster fishermen. I like examples. So here is an example: Is there an existing business? If yes, how much of the money raised by you will be a share in what already exists and what portion will be used to grow the business? Assuming you have a boat, traps, ice machine, fuel, maintenance equipment, insurance,...and sales and a profit: what price are you valuing that at and how much are you selling it at? As an investor, this is important for me to know because based on what already exists I might expect a certain return. This might cover the down side of the investment. On the other hand, if you have to buy all this and there are no sales and no profits then as an investor I know I have a total exposure to the downside. How do you cover that exposure so I see my money again? If we go back to the assumption you have an existing business and part of what you raise buys the investor a chunk of that, what are you doing with the rest? And, how do you get a return on that portion? Once again, what are the risks in terms of operations, sales, prices, quantities,....and how are you planning to mitigate them? What impact might these risks have on your ability to return the capital invested to investors as well as their return for using their resources? How do you plan and getting the money back to them? As you can see, there are many questions you need to have answered before anyone, regardless of where they are from, will give you money. By the way, these are not all the questions. This is just a framework to get you thinking like a business person. Please don't hesitate to contact me for further advice.
1 answer • 11 days
Social Media Marketing
Does a high quality explainer video generate higher customer conversions than a low quality explainer video?
Kevin Payne answered:
If your talking about the pixel quality it depends on your brand. The content of the video is far more important. You should take into account on a broader level whether an explain-er video will increase conversions verse a text based explanation due to trade offs. Video: Visual elements help with user experience and also increase transparency with brand. The con is that search engines can't read video's and only the video description will be recognizable. (A work around is having a transcript of the video which may take away from the user experience). Also video's decrease your websites page speed. Text: This will allow people and search engines to read your content. May decrease visitors engagement and increase bounce rate. Solution: I have been in a position where we did an A/B text on having a video verse image to explain the concept. Turns out both performed nearly identical. We choose the image because videos hurt page speed. Page speed is a part of Google's algorithm for search engine results. Consider creating a landing page with bullet points around customers pain points (not your product/service benefits) with a CTA that takes them to your video or offer. With an explain-er video I'm guessing your offering an unique product or service.
5 answers • 12 days
I'm a non-technical founder developing a karaoke mobile app. How I should architect my app in term of software/servers used and programming languages?
José Luis Núñez answered:
Better than choose an architecture and try to build the server side of your app, I suggest you to try to find a mate that helps you and was your cofounder. Just you will probably fail in building the app and keeping it working fine in the near future. One-founder teams are very risky for accelerators and VCs. So, you definitely should trust in a co-founder. Read this: http://venturehacks.com/articles/pick-cofounder
3 answers • 12 days
What types of photographs generate the most emotion in the viewer? We have a new photography service for brides and need input.
Joseph Peterson answered:
This falls outside my field; but in the absence of responses from others, I'll throw in my 2 cents. Yes, photographs will communicate emotion more viscerally and more immediately to a wider audience than would mere graphic design. It would take a rare painter to equal an average photographer for a job like this one. We've all watched weddings all our lives – weddings of actual people; and we empathize or fantasize by imagining ourselves in their place. Especially among brides, it seems there's a strong desire to emulate. But we're all trained to respond to images of weddings and brides. The less stylized and abstract they are, the more evocative we'll find them. That's my hunch. Browse some Pinterest boards about brides and weddings, and you'll quickly see for yourself what kinds of images people have selected and respond to emotionally.
5 answers • 12 days
How difficult is it (in terms of programming) for a mobile app to track a user's mileage without displaying a map?
Ezra Goldman answered:
Assuming you are looking for software, not in-car telematics, and you are willing to integrate rather than build it yourself, you could try using ZenDrive. That would give you a lot more than mileage too (eg, driving behavior).
2 answers • 13 days
I am looking to start an online boutique. What steps should I take from a legal standpoint to make the process as efficient as possible?
David West answered:
There'll be plenty of people from the legal profession that I'm sure will assist you. I have recently set-up an ecommerce website myself and whilst I found my terms & disclaimers from alternative sources...I did recently come across this website (http://thatlegalstuff.com/) which seems to offer continuously updating legal documentation. Looks interesting - but I'm not affiliated in any way. Good luck in your search!
3 answers • 14 days
How much equity I should ask for as the first employee of a startup with 2 co-founders?
Stoney deGeyter answered:
If they are offering equity as your payment then I'm surprised that they didn't come with a number. Or maybe they will. It's hard to give a firm answer because it all depends on how much money the two founders are investing on their own. If you say you'll invest equal portions then you can ask for 1/3 of the company. If you're just investing time, how much time, compared to how much of their time plus equity. Depending on those answers, the amount of equity you're worth can drop pretty low.
3 answers • 14 days
How can I gain more market share from my competitors who have been in business a lot longer than me?
Moon Ahmed answered:
Personally, I think you should be focusing heavily on your current users that are loyal to your brand currently and worry less on trying to buy users and get more brand awareness. To be frank you should be letting your strongest customers do all the promotion for you organically. "K-factor" This is how why you see businesses that get super big out of nowhere with practically nil paid marketing budgets. One of the differences of the David v Goliath mentality is companies believe they need to take on Goliath. The truth is, however, your company can operate at a high level by offering your customers the best services, prices, quality, etc that you can and be focused completely on the customer experience. The problem is by trying to compete with your competitors you are wasting all your money/time trying to beat or get market share vs. building a high quality business. Focus on acquiring the customers you can through traditional paid, organic channels however stop focusing on trying to compete for market share. Focus on your product/business and ensuring that you have high retention %/ repeat users/payers, etc. I worked at Lyft and to be honest we had that mentality vs. Uber who are essentially monsters compared to us. "Oh how will Lyft ever make a dent in Uber's market share" They have more money, resources, etc. The difference, however, was the customer experience with Lyft. Lyft, overall, is friendlier, and a better experience IMHO. Thus, you now see Lyft making major strides in market share in the ride-sharing economy. At the end of the day, IMHO eventually the customer experience, product etc. will help you organically eat into enough market share.
5 answers • 14 days
What are the most important pros and cons of raising funds via equity or convertible debt?
Alex Crutchfield answered:
I have raised money for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, as a founder, an independent director and as an agent. The main salient difference is not so much deferring valuation (unless you give the convertible buyers a ratchet) as it is the trade off of who gets what in the case of huge success on the one hand or utter catastrophe on the other. In the case of huge success, its better to sell less equity so the convertible is probably the way to go. In the case of utter catastrophe you dont want a fight over who gets the desks and pencils, so in that case its better to have sold equity. Its all pretty much no more complicated than the calculus of greed on the part of the founders. Good corporate finance practice formerly dictated that issuers only sell debt if they have cash flow to service it, as few startups do. If you would like to discuss this further, let me know.
1 answer • 14 days
One of our founders is going on sabbatical and his 25% equity share is now up for grabs. How should the rest of us co-founders deal with this?
Chesley Chen answered:
Hi - that's a very good question and before you sell the co-founder's shares, you should probably think about your current and future capital structure, what your ownership and fund raising plans are, and how your co-founder shares are structured. One key question: will you be raising an angel round or institutional round eventually? Different types of investors come with different expectations with respect to the terms and the class of shares. You'll want to think about the overall cap structure to allow room for future investors with terms that are typical for the type of investor. For one of my prior start-ups, we were an LLC and had different classes of shares as our company evolved: Class A (co-founders), M (for the next 2 key executives), and B (employees), followed by C, D, etc, for angels then institutions. The classes of units had their own unique "features". For this type of discussion, best to get the advice of a good corporate lawyer. I'd love to learn more. I've consulted with IDC (a tech research and analytics company) in the past so some of the lessons there may be helpful to you. Just Request a Call if you need help. Best of luck.
3 answers • 14 days
May I bring a new, unrelated, business in as a DBA under my existing S Corporation?
Chesley Chen answered:
You should double check with your lawyer and with your state-of-incorporation's filing rules but my gut says "Yes". One thing to consider: as you develop your safety consulting business and as you develop materials and any other IP, make sure your copyright wording lists you or your S-Corp as the owner. I'm not sure the DBA name can copyright anything. I've run many consulting and professional services business so if you need to talk through what it's like and some lessons learned, just Request a Call. Best of luck.
2 answers • 14 days
How painful do you find tender and RFP compilation? In your opinion, what would make the process easier?
Guillaume Lerouge answered:
I have worked on small-to-medium RFPs myself, as well as with clients who answer very large ones. What I've found over time is that you're very often going to re-use existing content and assets between tenders, though most companies don't really act on this fact. One thing I've found very useful is to build a database of RFP responses that is as comprehensive as possible, including information such as the name of the client, their industry, the size of the contract, the services they were looking for, the status (was it a win or a loss?) as well as the contents of the response itself. This way, when answering a new RFP it's easy to sift through existing ones and retrieve relevant content and information that can be used in your answer. This can significantly cut the time needed to respond to a RFP. It's also an invaluable source of information for new sales hires, helping them get up to speed much faster.
4 answers • 13 days
What is the best type and most effective type of UX Journey map that you have seen?
Chesley Chen answered:
That's a great question. The best UX Journey maps (we call them Experience Diagrams) that I've seen or designed all started with Stone Age tools: a pencil and a sketch pad. The next jump in technology was the leap to the white board. What worked for us was to make sure we could tell the story from the customer's perspective. Then we storyboarded the major Use Cases. I made my teams AVOID using any UX design software as long as possible. Whenever we jumped to using software too quickly, we found our design team (me included) getting wrapped up in the gadgetry of the software. Not fatal, just distracting. Having said that, we used Balsamiq Mock-ups, www.balsamiq.com. It was easy to learn and fun to use even for a dinosaur like me. Set-up a call if you'd like to learn more about my experiences with designing user experiences from a CEO's perspective. Best of luck.
1 answer • 10 days
I am looking for assistance on how to create a mobile payments 1) paypal 2) ACH 3) credit/debit
Jason Lengstorf answered:
You'll need a little more detail than that to get a useful answer, unfortunately. Are you a developer and/or someone with access to custom development? If so, there are great options like Stripe available. You can use PayPal's API. If not, you may want to look into SaaS offerings that handle the UX for you. Also, is this a native mobile app, or a web-based mobile app? Do you need subscription payments or one-off payments? Taking people's money online is a complicated, risky process that needs to be extremely well-considered. Otherwise you risk big problems: unhappy clients, security vulnerabilities, poor usability, and so on. I would recommend doing a good deal more research on your own, then coming back to this question with far more detail. Good luck!
2 answers • 15 days
Is Backendless a server for hosting mobile apps? I'm not very familiar with servers but I need to find the best option for my new app.
HsuanHua Chang, MBA, PCC answered:
Backendless is a mobile app development platform and also provides server functionalities. You need to develop your app using the platform. See resource below to determine if it is right for your app "Using Backendless developers can focus solely on the user experience and client-side business logic of their applications without worrying about or spending any time on the infrastructure and server-side tasks. Backendless accomplishes this by exposing the core server-side functions as programmable services accessible via specialized and REST APIs. Without any effort, developers can implement app functions for user registration and login, data persistence, push notification, geolocation, publish subscribe messaging and media streaming. Absolutely all default server-side behavior can be modified or extended with custom business logic. - See more at: https://www.crunchba"
1 answer • 15 days