I’ve been busy, which is why this post will be short even though it is about where most of my attention goes these days – to crowdfunding.
In case you’re not up to speed, crowdfunding started out as a collaborative funding movement where people DONATED to things like projects. This market has grown to a roughly $3 billion annual market. People donating, or pre-purchasing products or services or experiences has grown exponentially over the last several years.
As someone who has spent a lot of time doing online marketing, I see crowdfunding as an incredible new form of marketing a product or project either before or during it’s creation and growth.
Crowdfunding 2.0: Investing Comes to Crowdfunding
In November of 2011 I got involved in a legislative effort in Washington D.C. that became part of what was called the JOBS Act. The impact of this was that new laws were passed that help entrepreneurs and small business, by giving them a new way to not just do crowdfunding online, but to do what is called equity crowdfunding. (or more broadly, investment crowdfunding)
The good news is that Crowdfunder has been helping startups and social enterprises raise funding for almost a year now, with over 25,000 investors and entrepreneurs in our online community, over 1,000 companies active and looking to fundraise, and investment fundraising live with over $15,000,000 in investment sought.
We also have a unique model for local crowdfunding called CROWDFUNDx, which accelerates the identification and funding of top local deals through an online contests and pitch events where investors and entrepreneurs connect, then invest via Crowdfunder.
If you’re an entrepreneur or investor, I’d invite you to join the Crowdfunder community and be a part of this new model of supporting and investing in early stage businesses. If you sign up and want to fundraise or invest, I’m happy to hear your input and help you make an impact in the startup ecosystem.
I wanted to share a video I did in the past while I was writing Generation Entrepreneur, my handbook for first time entrepreneurs looking to start a business.
Richard Branson is one of my favorite entrepreneurs, not because of the scale of his success, but because of an important personal quality he possesses that you don’t find in many mega-successful founders.
Watch this video and find out what this quality is and how it has driven his success and and his ability to create companies in markets he’s never been in before and take a unique leadership position.
By the way, I’ve met Branson a few times in passing, but I learned about this quality through stories passed along from friends and, in part, from his book Losing My Virginity.
Hope you enjoy the video.
Oh… and by the way, if you’re a U.S. based entrepreneur and Founder then I strongly recommend you check out what we’re doing at crowdfunder.com with what’s called ‘business crowdfunding.’
Business Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs
In short, business crowdfunding allows you as a business owner to raise funding online in exchange for Equity. The current crowdfunding sites only allow for people to make ‘donations’, and in no way can those participants become an Investor in your business.
A revolution in startup and small business finance is about to happen, the likes of which we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. An entirely new Capital Market will be created where entrepreneurs will be able to go to a fundraising platform, announce their company or idea to the world, and raise investment.
What’s also significant is that now, and for the first time, everday people (the non-wealthy, non-accredited investor types) will finally have access and opportunity to invest in early stage private companies- and do so online.
Think it through and you can see how this will be a boon for U.S. innovation, jobs and for the U.S. small business economy.
But to play up to your more self-serving interests…
Imagine being the guy to loan Mark Zuckerberg a few thousands dollars in 2004 for servers he needed to put ‘thefacebook.com’ online?
Or imagine being able to invest in Google, Zynga, Pinterest or any high growth company you love and believe in.
The only thing holding us back is the passing of an appropriate law that will create a structural framework and legalize business crowdfunding.
The latest NetPositive Meetup was a great event with a solid turnout. Everyone seemed to enjoy the quality and caliber of people… and some good new connections were made.
To make meetups easier for us, I’ve put together NetPositive Meetup List that you can sign up for. Sign up below if you’ve been invited to NetPositive and I’ll make sure and let you know about upcoming meetups.
For New People
If you have someone you’d like to propose to join the group please have them email me with an intro about them and what they’re up to. I generally like to try and meet and know whomever comes into the group- that way the community follows the purpose here. (Smart+Good people)
If you’re brand new and don’t know anyone in the circle but you’re interested and you’re in the LA tech/internet/media world please post a comment here and I’ll connect with you.
I’ve had a growing interest in the mobile space- particularly around mobile search and developing a business that caters to local searchers in a useful way.
First, a bit of context on Why it has my attention and interest.
Stay with me while I share some tidbits on local search and some of the current goings-on.
Local Search Statistics
Here are a few quick stats I’ve read:
Microsoft’s Bing search estimate 53% of mobile users search for local purposes
Google estimates that 20% of ALL SEARCHES have a local intent
The SERP’s (Search Results) on Google are prioritizing local content more and more
Around this last point regarding the changes at Google, if you haven’t seen the recent changes to Google’s SERP’s then take a look these screen shots below that were taken today 11/16/10…
Changes to Local Search Results on Google
This first image below is a Google search query simply for “lawyers.” Google immediately assumes that the searches intent is local, they automatically read my IP address and geo-target my search… and then display a map and loads the left hand column results with location/places with alphabetical Place Pins. In this case those denote lawyers by location.
screenshot of localized search results at Google
This second image is a search for “San Francisco coffee shops.” You’ll see how the entire left column of natural search results is filled by location/Places content instead of simply links to top ranking websites for this keyword phrase.
Google Local Search Results including City Name
The focus on localized search results and local content by many of the biggest companies including Google and Facebook (with Facebook Places), and hence the growth in this space in terms of the aggregation and serving of localized ads/content is pretty fascinating.
So that explains a little bit about Why I’m interested in the space.
Seeing Opportunities In Local Search & Mobile Users
Of course, being a tinkerer with tech and systems and an entrepreneur, I couldn’t help but start to think about what new and better ways there might be of providing value to users on the go when they search with their mobile device in a specific location and want to search or discover something new.
And after taking in what I’ve just thrown at you and more for the last 6 months or so, an idea has stuck in my head for a new business in the space.
Here’s where it’s getting interesting though:
How do you go from big messy idea to implementing a real strategy for not just providing the product/service but for growing your business with users, engagement and revenue? And in this new space – can the same strategies I usually employ to test and launch startups be applied?
Well, in you haven’t ready my blog before I guess I could sum up my philosophy with launching new online businesses in the past as “Choose & Determine Your Market First.”
As in… you need to first test to determine what the existing and CURRENT demand is for what you’re doing, and do it in one or more specific marketing or advertising channels that has the potential to scale the growth of your business to where you’d want to grow it to.
For example, in my Mixergy interview with Andrew Warner on Ensuring Success Before You Launch I discuss evaluating your idea/product by testing it with Google search ads and using the results there in terms of Cost per Conversion and how many Searches and Clicks are available for qualified keywords.
So in the interests of taking my own medicine, one of the first places I’ve started is by seeing how the idea and concept of what I would build might do by first TESTING a vary simple version of my idea. Long story short, I’ve boiled down the idea to it’s simplest form and have begun testing it on the actual CHANNELS where people would discover and want to use my idea – on mobile devices.
To do so I’ve started using a variety of the mobile ad platforms out there including in app advertisements (location and phone platform specific)… as well as using local search results ads (primarily Google)… all in an effort to learn some of the following:
In paid ads, what are the average CPM’s and CPC’s out there?
How hard is it to rank for key terms in local areas on Google given location-targeted content?
How do mobile users/searches behave differently and what do they respond to and not respond to?
If I had a mobile site, or mobile app – how much would it cost on average to drive a new visitor, subscriber or app install?
What are the most efffective revenue models in this space?
These are just a few of the very rudimentary questions I’ve started to answer and am testing for. I might share more as things evolve, but I’m busy and this is a part time “pet project” for now.
If you’re doing anything interesting in the mobile or local space and want to connect post a Comment here please. I’m looking for learning resources and to get to know some smart people in the local search, local SEO and mobile space.
I’ve put together a private group gathering made up people I know and like who are:
Smart and driven
In the internet, tech or media space
Doing interesting things (often entrepreneurs)
The kind of people you might actually enjoy spending time with
If I sent you an invite please leave a Comment below so we can have a collective invitee list here so everyone in the group has an easy time following up with each other. When you post your info below please include:
Most Recent Role/Title
Link To Your Blog or LinkedIn (so people can’t contact you)
Details On The Event:
What: Tech/Marketing/Media Meetup When: Wednesday, November 17th, 7:00-10:00pm Where: Hotel Erwin Rooftop Lounge
1697 Pacific Ave Venice, CA – valet parking available Google Map Yelp Page
The purpose of the night is to get smart, interesting good people together to share ideas and create a better community for ourselves – and help each other where we can.
I did a similar event a while back and the feedback and response was great. People got value and enjoyed it. This time I’m expanding the circle a little bit to bring some good new people into the mix.
The invite list consists of:
Some tech/internet CEO’s
A few CTO’s
Some serial entrepreneurs with a few nice exits (sales)
Several lovely & talented internet marketers, authors and experts
A couple of folks doing cool stuff in the mobile space
Some web & app developers I like
Several super sharp Advertising and Media Buying folks
A few VC’s & Angels
And if you come… YOU
The evening will be a fairly casual gathering of minds up top the Erwin Hotel at the rooftop bar. It’s one of the very best views in Venice too, so you won’t want to miss it.
Why Am I Doing This Event?
I’ve always felt that Los Angeles could have a more cohesive technology and internet community- the way the Bay Area does.
With that said, there are some solid groups like DocStoc CEO Jason Nazar’s Startups Uncensored. Their events are usually posted to his blog and give real value to the startup folks of the world.
There are also some other internet-centric communities including:
What I’ve sought to do over the past year or so is bring together a smaller more intimate group of like-minded internet, technology and marketing folks who are all the kind of people I enjoy sharing ideas with and getting to know better.
It’s always great to connect with smart people, and I enjoy introducing the smart people I like and know to each other so everyone benefits.
If you’re in the LA tech community please also feel free to post here and say hi and introduce yourself. If we connect I can try and invite you to the next event.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
I’m getting a group of savvy, smart fun people in tech/media together Thursday night in Santa Monica.
Here are the details…
What: Savvy Folks Meetup Where: Bar Chloe 1449 2nd St. Santa Monica, CA When: Thursday 11/5 at 7:45pm
I bring this group together because I like connecting with smart people who are also interesting good people, and sharing in return. It’s not very formal- more an opportunity to hang with smart folks doing great things at a cool place for the evening.
Focus on technology, marketing, media and startup entrepreneurs.
Networking, helping other people and talking about big ideas highly encouraged.
Our last meetup at the Hotel Erwin rooftop was a great group, and some great connections and friendships were made.
The group I’ve invited so far for this event are smart, successful and generous in spirit… and I want my friends to meet and hang with other good people like them. If you’d like to come and you’ll bring value to the group with what you’re doing, then come by.
Please RSVP so I know how many we’ll have. I have tables already reserved. RSVP by Commenting here on my Blog, or if you’re a FB’er, on the Facebook Event Page.
If you’re interested in online marketing for your business, there’s something important you should know about the people you are looking to become your subscribers or customers.
It’s a process that every single user online is doing, and they’re doing it every day, every time they decide to open up their computer. I call this process the “User Bubble”, and I’m going to explain what it is and why you need to know about it.
First, a few things you need to get before you see what I’m talking about clearly…
Blind Spots As An Internet Marketer
We all have a psychological “blind spot” when we cross over from being USERS of a product or service to being the CREATOR of our own product or service.
Here’s what I mean…
As a USER we’re in a hurry.
We don’t want to have to read all the text on a page. We want to get what we want in 2 seconds or less, and we don’t want to have to give anything up for it.
As a CREATOR… we assume that users should pay attention to us and care.
We want our users to read all the text on our page. We expect to get the users attention and for them to stay engaged and do what we assume they will want to do for minutes on end.
You see the clear disconnect, yet most of us can’t help but fall into this blind spot when we move into being a CREATOR.
Great marketers are often people who think past or overcome this blind spot, and build and design with THE GAP between USER and CREATOR in mind.
Ok. Now that you know a tiny bit about the User/Creator Gap, there’s something 99% of of web/email/mobile users do that we practically all forget about when we go to create and market something of OUR OWN.
The User Bubble
Humans are creatures of habit.
Being creatures of habit, we tend to like or trust things we already know about and have seen before MORE than we like things we haven’t seen or heard about.
We also generally follow the same routes and paths to getting things done on a daily basis.
you take the same route to work
you filter and respond to email messages at a given address
you use the same search engine or search bar on your browser
you talk to the same friends
you eat the same things
you watch the same tv shows
you visit the same websites
you log in to the same social networks
you read the same blogs or social feeds
The list goes on.
The process users do day-in and day-out of finding and filtering information from the same people, the same places and doing it in the same ways online is what I call the User Bubble.
Online Marketing Strategy - Understanding User Routines
Now, you might ask why do people do this? Why do we live in “bubbles?” One reason is that we create habits to make our lives more manageable- to find a rhythm in the chaos that is the overload of Information, knowledge, work and entertainment today.
The point is, we largely do the same things in our lives over and over again, including what we do and where we go and visit online and on the web.
This becomes really important to know when you think about how to get your product or service in front of a real life human being you’d like to become your user or customer. It becomes critical to consider if your business and marketing plan calls for you capturing thousands or millions of users.
The reality is that if you want to get in front of users today, you have to get into what I call their “User Bubble.” You have to find a way to get into their bubble or communication “loop.”
This means that you not only have to be using the channels/mediums they’re repetitively using… but you might have to get a real individual talking about you or mentioning you to their network for many users locked in tiny Bubbles of their own to ever hear about you and come across you in their daily Bubble.
Getting Into Your Users Bubble
Knowing about “User Bubbles,” where do you need to be at to get into your users bubble and daily info “loop”?
I’ve acquired several million subscribers in businesses over the last 7 years.
In the Web 1.0 era there weren’t that many options. Banner ads, forums and email. Search used to be much less crowded. Now there are tons of options, and you need to pick and choose. Most importantly, you need to FOCUS.
Not only does your user and where they are online determine where you need to be to get into their Bubble, but your product or service often determines this as well.
Email has been a great way for marketers and brands to try and get themselves into users Bubbles, and stay there. That’s part of the beauty of email. If you have a users “good” email address, you can bet they’ll at least come across your message when you want to push it to them. But email isn’t as effective as it used to be for many businesses, and users are trying to spend less time be “marketed to” via email. (opening and clicking less non-personal emails)
The social web has expanded many users Bubbles. Now many users have 1-2 email addresses, 1 or 2 social “identities” where they share and glance at feeds, and likely several sources of info/news – blogs, newsletter subscriptions, or Twitter for real time news.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your users will abandon their habits and break out of their Bubble for you. Instead, make sure you’re finding great relevant ways to have them invite you in.
So think about it…
Knowing about how users live in Bubbles, what’s the best way to get into their loop, and stay there with recurring messages, recurring value and give them reasons to continue to interact with you?
Tip of the hat here… I’ve been thinking about writing about the User Bubble phenomena for a few weeks now, and finally got around to it after being inspired by a panel put on by two smart cool folks Tony Adam and Jackie Peters on knowing and finding your Customer at The Perfect Pitch conference.
Hey… I wanted to give you a heads up about a very cool event a friend and all around cool thoughtful guy Kit Cooper has put together.
It’s called The Quality of Life Forum, and it’s a monthly speaker series in Santa Monica in which well known and inspiring guests discuss the things that contribute to their quality of life.
It’s run by a local non profit Quality of Life Project that interviews people like Richard Branson, Jacqueline Novogratz, Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Skerritt and then shares their best life practices and perspectives with others.
There are real usable tips here that will help you enjoy more of the success you’re working towards, or already have.
The guest at the next event, Wednesday October 21st, is Mark Thornton, author of Meditation in a New York Minute, executive coach, expert on how meditation can improve both your personal and professional life.
Mark helps people and companies including Wharton, McKinsey and Harvard Law School. Mark used to be the COO of JP Morgan London and is now focused on teaching people that they really can have their feet in both the business and spiritual worlds.
Check it out.
How To Attend:
This event is FREE if your Register.
When you try and market and sell to everyone, you often get no one.
It’s not what EVERYONE will like about your product that will lead individuals to buy it. It’s what ONE INDIVIDUAL will light up when hearing that will create your success in marketing.
Many people forget that you aren’t communicating One-to-Many in todays world. Instead, you’re communicating One-to-One in almost every context… even when the One-to-One dynamic is spread across thousands or millions of users and you.
So think about it. This principle of Specificity is an important design principle, but it’s also VERY important in marketing and copywriting and most forms of communication. The more specific your communication, the more people can grab on to it.
Tip of the hat to John Weir for sending me the image and the design conversation and learnings shared.