Growthink Blog

Growthink Client LeapFish.com Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine


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We were thrilled to see our client LeapFish.com featured in the Web+Department section in the March 2009 edition of Entrepreneur Magazine.

Launched in November 2008, LeapFish is a search engine that uses proprietary hyper-threading to deliver more results in a single search. 

What makes LeapFish unique and so fun to use is its "click-free" search functionality.  As you type, the screen refreshes with new results -- give it a try!

 

 

Entrepreneur selected LeapFish along with a handful of other innovators in search.

The other featured startups included 123people.com, Cuil, EcoSmartSearch.com, RushmoreDrive.com, and Spock.com.


Safari Air + Growthink


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Growthink is happy to announce our upcoming work with Safari Air, the world's first carbon-neutral luxury private airline. As a strategic advisor to the airline, Growthink will assist with business development, growth strategy and marketing initiatives.


Safari Air is an exciting fusion of luxury service and eco-friendly philosophy. Through an innovative pay per seat model, clients will have premium access to Honolulu, New York City, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabos San Lucas. Flights will possess everything from concierge service and MacBook laptops to an unlimited selection of Netflix movies. With a keen eye on luxury, Safari Air has still found a way to incorporate a green mindset and has made a unique commitment to operate without a carbon footprint.


Safari Air joins the growing roster of Growthink's engagements in the alternative energy and carbon mitigation space. We're glad to welcome Safari Air to our exciting list of clients!


Announcing Mashable's US Summer Tour


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In addition to our work with Twiistup on July 17, we are also promoting Mashable's US Summer Tour 2008.

Mashable.com is the leading social networking and social media blog, and has spotted important trends in digital media over the past several years.  To get your web startup reviewed favorably in Mashable is to have arrived as a digital media entrepreneur.

The purpose of Mashable's tour is to engage and unite the Social Media community of Founders, Developers, Bloggers, Influencers, Journalists, Venture Capitalists and Social Networking Users themselves.

Each event will have approximately 500 to 900 attendees, and will include networking, “Drink Tickets”, music, light appetizers, and Pete Cashmore himself. Needless to say, we are very excited to be involved.

The "SummerMash" events will be held in 7 cities: New York, Boston, Austin, LA, Seattle, SF and Miami.

Seattle: Saturday, July 12th
Buy Tickets Here

San Fransisco: Tuesday, July 15th
Buy Tickets Here

Los Angeles: Friday, JUly 18th
Buy Tickets Here

Austin, TX: Wednesday, July 30th
Buy Tickets Here

Miami: Saturday, August 2nd
Buy Tickets Here

Boston: Tuesday, August 5th
Buy Tickets Here

New York City: Thursday, August 7th
Buy Tickets Here


You can read more about the Summer Tour here.

Growthink to Sponsor Twiistup 4


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Growthink is very excited to announce our sponsorship of Twiistup 4, a networking conference that will take place on July 17th at the Viceroy in Santa Monica, CA.

Twiistup events bring together entrepreneurs and investors from the areas of media, entertainment and technology, and give startups an opportunity to showcase themselves. Twiistup conferences are quickly becoming “must-attend” events for those interested in learning about what's new in the Southern California tech community.

Twiistup 4, which sold out immediately, will feature presentations from 11 exciting startups, 7 of whom are Southern California locals, plus 4 "crashers" from Texas, Vancouver and the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more about the "Show Offs" here.

For more information, visit the Twiistup site here.


How to Succeed by Doing Less


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Imagine reaching all of the goals you’ve set out to achieve within the confines of a four-day work week. Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? Now imagine hiring significantly fewer employees than your competitors and developing products that are dramatically scaled back in comparison to what those same competitors are building down the street….and then watching your venture reach milestone after promising milestone! That’s a reality for Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the entrepreneurs behind the company 37Signals.

With an iconoclastic view of what is needed to succeed in the fast-paced, whiz-bang world of web-based product development, 37Signals takes the old mantra “less is more” to a new level. In a recent interview with Bill Taylor, the founders shared their view that “less is less- because more is not better!” Their approach, which focuses on solving only the problem at hand by avoiding superfluous add-ons and unnecessary tweaks has not only resonated with their customers, but has created a large number of 37Signals evangelists.

Jason and David, while they are best known for their project-management software Basecamp and contact-management software Highrise, have also authored a book on the subject of success through simplicity, titled Getting Real. Inside, they tell entrepreneurs to add only the ingredients of the utmost importance when it comes to staffing, operations, and product development. They also passionately implore business owners to resist the urge to scale up, just because the opportunity to do so presents itself.

Though 37Signals is known for its frugality and prowess in the world of programming, there are strategic lessons for businesses of all types here; whether it’s scaling back the development of unessential functionality for your Web 2.0 company or modifying the operations at your coffee shop so that you don’t need to hire that extra barista. What can you do to simplify your business?

Martin Conroy's Billion Dollar Story


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storyOn a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both - as young college graduates are - were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.

They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.

But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.

What Made The Difference?

Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.

The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.

And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of The Journal: to give its readers knowledge - knowledge that they can use in business.

-----

The above story/sales letter, written by Martin Conroy, was used by the Wall Street Journal for 25 years starting in 1974. Doing the math regarding how many people this letter was sent to, the percentage of orders that came from it, and the subscription prices, it is estimated that this story resulted in $1 billion in sales for the paper.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that stories are an extremely effective, but often overlooked, sales tool that can allow emerging ventures to compete with large established companies. Stories allow companies to get their prospects involved in their message. It gets them excited. And then they want to learn more.

Here's an example of another startup who crafted a great story...

-----

I’m about to tell you a true story. If you believe me, you will be well rewarded. If you don’t believe me, I will make it worth your while to change your mind. Let me explain.

Lynn is a friend of mine who knows good products. One day he called excited about a pair of sunglasses he owns. “It’s so incredible!” he said. “When you first look through a pair you won’t believe it.” What will I see? I asked. What could be so incredible?

Lynn continued. “When you put on these glasses your vision improves, objects appear sharper, more defined. Everything takes on an enhanced 3D effect and it’s not my imagination. I just want you to see for yourself.”

-----

The story goes on to discuss all the benefits of Joe Sugarman’s BluBocker sunglasses… over 20 million pairs of which have now been sold!

Does your company have a great story?

Baseball and the Science of Effective Business Building


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Over the last thirty years, baseball statistician Bill James has revolutionized the way that players, managers and fans think about statistics in baseball. By carefully analyzing statistics, James has dispelled numerous myths and has shifted the Boston Red Sox management’s decision-making process from one based on intuition and “gut” to a rigorously fact-based approach.

What has been the result? After decades of loss and heartbreak, the Red Sox have won two World Series Championships in the past 5 years.

Bill James’ analyses have dispelled many myths and have helped both the Red Sox and much of the industry focus on proven measures of performance. For example, James was a leading force in emphasizing the significance of on-base percentage over a player’s batting average. On-base percentage, James argues, is a more significant statistic, since batting average fails to account for bases gained from walks.

Regarding batting strategy, James says that the order of the line-up is inconsequential to overall performance, and that the concept of a “clutch” hitter is nonsense.

On the subject of a player’s lifetime performance, James concluded that the “prime” years of a baseball player’s career are his mid-late 20s. The Red Sox took James’ recommendations into account when deciding against re-signing star player Johnny Damon.

Regarding pitching strategy, James argues that “closers” – pitchers traditionally brought in during the final inning(s) of a game – should instead enter at critical moments when a team’s lead is at stake (e.g. perhaps in the 6th inning), rather than waiting longer.

What does all of this have to do with business building and entrepreneurship?

James makes a compelling case that all businesses – not just professional baseball teams – can benefit from careful statistical analysis. Such analysis can dispel unfounded theories, identify significant measures of performance, and illuminate creative, counter-intuitive strategies to bolster a business’ competitive advantage.

James’ fact-based analytical approach is especially valuable for emerging companies who are competing against larger, more established businesses.

If Bill James were to analyze your industry or your business operations, what myths would he dispel? What performance benchmarks would he stress? What strategies would he recommend?

  • Bill James was profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes last Sunday. You can read more about the episode and watch a clip here.

  • An excellent book on this topic of statistical analysis is Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning by Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris. It's available for sale on Amazon here.

Landing Page Optimization, Business Planning and Google's Success


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Over the past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time studying a field called Landing Page Optimization. It's a fascinating field that deals with improving landing pages, which are the pages of your website that visitors come to either organically or through paid marketing initiatives. The goal of Landing Page Optimization is to maximize conversions (e.g., sales, newsletter signups, etc.) of these visitors.

One of the guiding principles of landing page optimization is that landing pages need to be simple. If there is too much information on the page, the reader gets confused and either clicks the back button or closes the browser.

This principle is the same as a guiding principle of business plan development; mainly that the plan, and particularly the executive summary, needs to present the business concept concisely so that the audience quickly understands it. If not, they will simply discard the business plan.

Interestingly a concise message might not only improve your business plan and your landing page, but your entire business’ success. Consider the case of Google. The Google homepage has always had very little text on it. In fact, if you go to it, it doesn’t even say that it is a search engine. But, by having a big empty box in the middle and having a button underneath it that says “Google Search”, it is pretty intuitive that Google is a search engine.

Now, when someone was referred for the first time to Google over the past few years and came to Google.com, what do you think they did? Well, due to its simplicity, I think we can assume that nearly all people who came to Google.com typed in a search term and hit the search button. Then, they instantly saw high quality search results and were sold on the fact that Google is a great search engine.

So, by keeping their landing page and business concept/proposition extremely simple, Google was able to get people to try its product. Because the product is high quality, those trials resulted in loyal users.

While there are many examples out there, one interesting company that I think could really improve its business plan, landing page, and thus chance of success is SpinVox. I first read about SpinVox in this Guy Kawasaki post in which he says, “This service translates voicemail to text and then sends a text message to your phone and/or an email to your computer.”

While Guy Kawasaki does a great job clearly explaining SpinVox in this 22 word sentence, I don’t think SpinVox does. On its homepage, SpinVox has the following text:

"SpinVox captures spoken messages and cleverly converts them into text. It then delivers your message to a destination of your choice – inbox, blog, wall or space. Right in the moment. Giving you the power to Speak Freely... Simply put, we do one thing – turn voice into text. But it's one thing that can be applied to the many ways you communicate, from your Voicemail to your Blog. Use the finder below to find the right one for you."

If I were to come to this page without Guy Kawasaki’s clear explanation, I would most likely leave without trying the service. It neither clearly explains the most common use nor the value proposition of the service.

To sum up, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Use simplicity to hook the investor, the customer, the partner, or whoever else you are trying to influence. Once hooked, over time (which could be as little as 2 minutes later), you can tell the full story.


Entrepreneur Quote of the Week: AOL’s Steve Case


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“I’m not sure I knew what an entrepreneur was when I was ten, but I knew that starting little businesses and trying to sell greeting cards or newspapers door-to-door or just vending machine kind of thing is… there’s just something very intriguing to me about that.”

-Steve Case, co-founder and former CEO of AOL

 

According to a 2006 study, approximately 2/3 of entrepreneurs claim it was their “innate drive” that inspired them to start their own business. In other words, they were born an entrepreneur.

Of the remaining entrepreneurs surveyed, 21% credited work experience as their motivation for taking the leap, and 16% said they were inspired by the success of others around them.

Forty-two percent of these entrepreneurs also said they started a childhood business venture, meaning that kid selling lemonade down the street might just be a future business owner.

Is a person born an entrepreneur, or is the entrepreneurial attitude created out of experience? Can it be either? Or maybe some combination of both?

Were you born an entrepreneur?

 


3/4/08 Recap: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Eight Year Olds


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Interesting news and perspectives from around the web:

  • Justin Nowak of YoungGoGetter.com explains the business lessons he’s learned from his eight year old son:
    • An Ability To Forget Bad Things
    • Determination
    • Creativity
    • Loyalty

  • Seth Godin warns us not to trust our own instincts too much. Everybody is different when it comes to persuasion.

  • PureVC discusses the role of trust and promises in causing the recent turmoil in the economy: When Things Have No Worth.

  • Pequot Ventures, a leading NYC venture capital firm, today announced that it is spinning off from Pequot Capital, to form FirstMark Capital in June 2008.

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