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Tag Archives: Business

Humanizing Key to Success

Tampa’s Kevin Hale, one of the founders of Infinity Box, Inc. and one of the creators of, shares his secrets for success in the internet start-up business.  Take thirty minutes from your lunch break to watch Kevin’s enthusiastic ‘Internet start up boot camp’ video.

OK, so what is Kevin’s secret?

Fanatical Customer Service

WuFoo‘s philosophy for customer service is interesting.  WuFoo takes a psychological approach to customer service.  Kevin explains the approach as dating new customers and marrying regular customers.  Translation:  Work hard to make great first impressions, and personalize service to exiting customers.

Dating = New Customer Interaction

  • Developers are part of the customer support process.  Because developers  support the products they develop, they are best equipped to fix issues and  learn to build better apps as a result:  ‘Build products like you have to support them’ philosophy
  • WuFoo pays careful attention to the pages that new customers are most likely to see first, such as login, home, launch, account, and first support pages.  Pages are friendly, fun, and  well thought-out (This last one kind of reminds me of Apple’s philosophy about their gadgets)

Marriage = Managing existing customers

  • WuFoo has its developers write hand-written thank-you notes to regular customers every week.
  • Fun and rewarding contest:  WuFoo gave away a battle-ax as part of an API contest!  The winners received cash and the ax, but WuFoo gained several new product features as a result! Great example of crowdsourcing!

Operational Logistics

  • WuFoo leverages many free and open source tools to manage its internal communications, and then builds support and documentation right into the development process.
  • New products aren’t launched unless documentation, tool tips, and support features are complete.  Nice!

The key take away from WuFoo’s approach to its startup success is that it humanizes its product from start to finish.  Users don’t just sign-up for a Wufoo account, they ‘marry’ it!


    Can the iPad Kill the Book?

    Interactive Alice in Wonderland iPad App. Screenshot

    What to do if you want to publish a book, but can’t get a publisher to take on your work? Or, say, you do find a publisher, but the publisher’s strengths aren’t in social media marketing or e-book publishing. With the proliferation of devices such as the iPad, do you even need (or want) a publisher?  Now, authors can imagine beyond the book as they work with app. developers to ‘publish’ works not limited by paper or text.

    I read an interesting article on TechCrunch ‘Dear Authors, Your Next Book Should be an App, not an iBook‘ by Cody Brown.  Cody makes a very good point about authors who simply see the iPad as a place to publish a book, the author is completely missing the point.  Cody clearly sees the iPad from the reader (or user) perspective and asks :

    why not make it like a game so that in order to get to the next ‘chapter’ you need to pass a test? Does the content of the book even need to be created entirely by me? Can I leave some parts of it open to edit by those who buy it and read it? Do I need to charge $9.99, or can I charge $99.99?

    So, If you publish your book as an app., and the app. adds interactivity features unlike traditional books, is it even still a book or is it something else?  Actually, it can’t even really be called an e-book. To truly portray what the new, interactive, crowd-sourced, game-enriched literary creation can do, we really need to think outside the book completely.   It’s easy to see how this new way of interacting with literary content through sound, motion, video, internet connectivity, sound recording, etc. can capture those who wouldn’t pick up a traditional book or even an e-book.  With the continued growth of touch screen internet-connected tablets, educational and children’s materials that were traditionally published as books may find a cheaper and fantastically more interesting home as an app.  Yes, for now print and e-books are very much in vogue.  I predict a strong trend toward interactive literature that will eventually carve into the already waning print book market, and even supplant the e-book market, especially if prices remain competitive.

    Could Your Profession be Crowdsourced?

    In 2009, Clay Shirkey talks about the ideas in his new book, Here Comes Everybody.  This short interview is a fascinating take on how initiatives like Wikipedia and Open Source software have proved highly successful crowdsourced projects controlled neither by big business nor the government.  Furthermore, volunteers maintain them– folks who give of their time for free and have created an enormous amount of value.  Clay makes the point that Scribe used to be a profession.  We paid scribes to read and write for us, but now everyone reads and writes, so we no longer need scribes.  With wireless broadband increasing and barriers to access decreasing, there is great opportunity for receivers of services to get more for less (or no) money.  However, if what Clay says is true about the future being shaped by mass amateurization, which professions that we pay for today will be crowdsourced initiatives in the future?

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