Month: June 2009 (page 2 of 2)

Start-Up Economic Revolution

Last week in my post, I mentioned that my company B-Stock Solutions is currently operating from a space within the oDesk office in Menlo Park.  Though B-Stock is currently in the process of moving into brand new office space – the time I have spent within the oDesk offices have rekindled my love for the oDesk system.

oDesk is an online marketplace for work teams.  In a simple sense, it allows the buyer to outsource tasks from the simplest data input to the most complicated web design to providers worldwide.  Even in High School when I started my first business, I used to use oDesk to provide graphics for T-Shirts and CDs.

So this week when we started developing an SEO strategy for the new website, many of the tasks were going to be exceptionally simple and time consuming.  Fortunately, the first suggestion was to outsource some of the tasks on oDesk.  Within minutes of putting the job on oDesk, over 7 people had already applied with wage rates as low as 77 cents an hour.

Marketplaces such as oDesk are changing the landscape for businesses.  As it grows, the traditional rules for outsourcing and hiring people are going to be thrown out the window.  The idea that at 18, I had two “employees” working for me is still ridiculous to my parents and I.

However, it does illustrate the opportunity for businesses in the future.  With marketplaces such as oDesk driving down the costs and barriers to developing an idea into a product, funding becomes less important at the seed stage.  It will enable everyone with even the smallest of technical acumen to take their ideas and apply them in the real world.  Get ready.

Week 1 with TEC and GigaOM

Obligatory Golden Gate bridge photo

Hey all, Andrew Boni here. What an amazing week it’s been out here in San Francisco.

First off, a little bit about me: I was born and raised in New Jersey, I go to school at Boston College, and I’m going to be interning with GigaOM for the next 8 weeks. I feel like I’m really fortunate for Christiaan and True Ventures to have paired me up with GigaOM since web design and development is a passion of mine. In my free time I run and maintain a couple of websites, and am interested in creating a start-up, so working with a company like GigaOM is right up my alley.

After being at GigaOM for over one week, I have come to several interesting realizations:

  1. I can honestly say that by working with the people at GigaOM, I have learned and acquired skills that would have taken me weeks to learn otherwise. I never would have come across some of the tools and utilities that I’m using, on my own. I never would have been able to figure out how to use SVN or how to properly configure such vital software like WAMP and Aptana. I’ve learned what it’s like to sit in on company meetings and how they are run. I’ve also been able to refine my ability to socialize — before coming out here, I’d never been out to drinks with tech professionals who were 10+ years my senior. Now I can say that I have.
  2. By working in the environment of a start-up like GigaOM, I’ve found myself fully immersed in/surrounded by technology and other technology enthusiasts. It’s a very unique atmosphere. In my previous work experiences, I found myself talking about banal topics like the weather, the movies, sports, or celebrities during lunch or downtime. Not here though. At GigaOM, I’ve been about to have meaningful conversations about Facebook or Twitter or Digg with my peers that I’d never be able to have with anyone else. Back home in New Jersey, it’s tough for me to find people like these to engage in conversation.
  3. I’m constantly surrounded by brilliant people. Whether they’ve written for, worked for companies like Yahoo!, CNET, or Second Life, developed for, published a book, won a prestigious scholarship, or even attended an elite university like Harvard, Stanford, Yale, UPenn, or MIT, every person that I’ve met thus far has done something remarkable.

Here are a couple of pictures that I snapped:

GigaOM's office is on the left

The view from outside GigaOM's offices


That’s all for now. I’ll be updating every week, if not more often. You can follow me on Twitter.

First Impressions

Hello there!

My name is Alex Mielke and I am a rising Junior at Boston College studying Finance and Info Systems. During this internship, I am working with SendMe Mobile splitting my time between Finance and Operations.

As this first week has gone by in no time, one of the things that I have noticed is that working for a startup has to match your personality. If you are someone that is easily frustrated if things do not work out as initially planned, working for a startup will not be the right thing for you. Because of the rapid growth especially of early stage companies, there is rarely any consistency in almost anything for a long time.

One of my tasks that has made me notice this was trying to optimize the way the company uses data analysis to detect variations in the cost per Net Successfully Billed Subscriber (NSBS, a customer that has confirmed his order for a ringtone or game by submitting a PIN and stayed past midnight Pacific Time) that directly impact whether the company is able to turn a profit. Getting all this data in order for the daily 11am meeting is currently still being done with the help of rather complex Excel spreadsheets that directly access an underlying SQL database. Since marketing campaigns are constantly added or changed, however, automating these tasks to decrease the amount of time necessary to update the spreadsheets has proven to be rather difficult. Some formulas that worked for yesterday’s spreadsheets often no longer work tomorrow when the underlying data has changed.

Apart from working on improving the data analysis, I was also able to look into the way Employee Stock Options are issued and how the company finances its daily operations through the use of an aggregator and Accounts Receivable borrowing. So far, I have really enjoyed my time at SendMe and I am looking forward to learning a lot more over the course of the next seven weeks.

Week 1

What a week! When I arrived to SendMe on Monday I was anxious as to what I’d be doing, but after being briefed on the details of the company I soon felt more comfortable. After learning how to navigate several different data portals, I began working on a project with the marketing team. A new ad campaign was recently launched using banner ads – I have spent the last few days computing individual ad success rates to figure out which ones to keep and which ones to scrap. We have now developed a few new banner ads based on the research that I have done. We will be launching them soon and I will be constantly tracking them so we can optimize and lower the customer acquisition cost for these ads. We have a long way to go on this campaign so I will definitely be busy in the next few weeks. I will keep you posted on our progress.

Anatomy of a Start-Up

Hey TEC Blog!

My name is Adam D’Augelli and I am a rising senior studying economics at the University of Florida.

This summer I am working with B-Stock Solutions. B-Stock Solutions helps Fortune 2000 Retailers and Manufacturers improve recovery on liquidation inventory by 20 – 100% by building, hosting and operating private label auction marketplaces that automate the selling process.

B-Stock Solutions currently has three executives. A CEO, a VP of Technology, and a VP of Sales. We sit in four open cubicles within one of the sides of the oDesk office.

The retail and manufacturing companies that we partner with all have upwards of 30 and 40 executives with massive organizational support. Costco Wholesale, for example, has 118 executives. In these types of organizations, executive positions are very tightly defined and often have one specific oversight role.

Ridiculously Specific Job Titles include:

– SVP of General Merchandising Manager Consumables and Perishables

– SVP Retail Training, Leadership Development, and Women’s Leadership Forum

– Director Supply Chain Strategy

The massive division of labor by the major retailers and manufacturers, though somewhat necessitated by size, also illustrates why big companies cannot move as fast as start-ups. For a decision to get made, multiple horizontal and vertical levels of management needs to love the idea and then the rest of the company involved needs to have buy-in for change to occur.

Of course, it would be difficult to run a massive conglomerate the same way a start-up is run. It wouldn’t make sense to run as quickly or to take as much risk. However, it does demonstrate that there will always be opportunities for start-ups worldwide to work hard to develop new technology and to drive innovation forward.

TEC: day one

Today, we’re excited to welcome the first group of participants to TEC, True Ventures’ first summer internship program designed to expose young entrepreneurs to talented startup mentors and managers in the True portfolio. 

As we wrote in our blog post announcing the program in April… 

We’re introducing the True Entrepreneur Corps (TEC) in hopes that one small effort can build resources for the early stage ecosystem and foster the spirit of possibility in tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

TEC is a program for college students to join True and our portfolio for the summer. Students will work directly at one of our companies for the summer, and they will participate in a robust program of speakers designed to expose TEC participants to the top trends, methods, and innovators in the early stage markets. TEC participants will be hand picked from universities across the US and matched to specific and identified needs in our portfolio. True covers the cost of the TEC folks for our companies, so for the portfolio founders this is a source of free, very talented, motivated labor. For the students, we hope that our platform can expose them to the world of startups and innovation early-on in their education. Our goal is to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with experience and resources that could impact their career at an early age.

True was founded with the belief that the entrepreneur is the protagonist and creative hero in the technology world. Since our beginning, we’ve made every decision with the viewpoint that the early stage, founding entrepreneur is our customer. While we can only invest in a very few entrepreneurs each year, we believe it’s our duty and responsibility to help support all entrepreneurs in their quest to create a better tomorrow. Creating TEC enables us to do two things: build resources for our portfolio at a time when they’re needed most and provide a valuable service to True’s future customers and our country’s great hope: the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome this group of undergraduate students to our program, and are honored that they’ve chosen to join us and our portfolio companies for what we believe will be a fantastic summer. Watch this space as the next few months progress for updates from all TEC participants on their startup experiences.

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