Introducing Rentree –

For my interview of an entrepreneur this quarter, I decided to interview a software engineer, David Lin, from Amazon AWS who, had years of experience in the tech industry and owned rental properties, is working to build his rental app from scratch. His team consists of two other engineers from Microsoft and ex-Trulia.  Today, it is so hard for working professionals to keep up with their work and also manage rental properties.  A lot of people simply hire agents to manage for them.  However, the total value of the quality of service and the amount of the fee charged, a lot of people are not happy with their agents.   David Lin has some really bad experiences; therefore, he determined to start Rentree and its mobile platform to address the pain point.  Although the prototype is under development, the value proposition that Rentree has gained strong interests among the Taiwanese community in Bellevue.

Introduction

Rentree simplifies the relationship between independent landlords and tenants, as well as providing tools for landlords and tenants to virtually manage the properties and payment transfers. It also has the ability to create rollup for multiple properties or units so that the landlords can view all the important financial information under one roof.   Rentree enables independent landlords to: 1. Setup viewing appointments 2. Manage viewers 3. Create standard lease contract and sign via Docusign 4. Setup payment system virtually and also Union Pay from Asia.  5. Track (rollup) rent income and expenses.  6. Housecleaners, landscaper, and handymen for hire at a lower group rate.  Finally, it would be a portal to document all the messages and correspondents in a single place per renter.  The mission is to be the one stop shop to help independent landlords on their rental properties.

Target Market & Position

Its target market is similar to David himself.  An independent landlord that has decision-making ability to obtain tools and services to optimize his/her rental properties.  They are disrupting an existing market that was dominated by real estate companies, agents, who charge a steep fix fee for rentals (first month rent), and a high expense ratio on ongoing property management (5-10%).  The goal of Rentree is to develop a scalable platform to effectively increase landlord’s overall investment return and save time for other important things without the need to hire a person to manage the properties.

David gave me two examples: By renting out one property to a family, the lease and on-going management should be relatively simple; therefore, the point is that there is no point of hiring someone to manage it for you.  Rentree becomes a place where you keep track of all the information.  As time goes on, this landlord may have more properties in the future and still have a day-time job.  This landlord may need some help to scale, and rentree would be the Saas solution for the person.  The second landlord may just have one properties, but it has multiple rooms in the house for rent.  The management of the properties would be complicated.  Rentree creates a system to help this type of the landlords as well to keep track of multiple contracts, financials, and payments.

Since it is a SaaS model, the value communication would start from the direct communication with the property owners for the first set of the clients.  The model would be through the word of mouth through independent landlords and the monthly meeting of both chamber of commerce and independent investor meeting that David has been involved over the past 15 years.  He had tried to email some groups without introduction and he stopped because it did not work well.  David is considering social media to promote his startup and especially to attract the growing population of investors from Mainland China.  He is actively partnering up with some investment groups in order to gain more momentum for the people that’s investing in the Puget Sound region.

Entrepreneur Report – Lab Connect LLC

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The Company

Lab Connect LLC was founded in 2002. It is a clinical research company that provides global central laboratory services including routine and esoteric laboratory testing, kit building, sample management, bio-storage and scientific support services for biopharmaceutical and CRO clients. The company has a unique combination of state-of-the-art technology, world-class laboratories, easy access to emerging markets and extensive specialized testing expertise, which means the drug development industry can rely on a single provider for all of their central laboratory service needs.

Target market

Its target market is small and mid size biopharmaceutical companies. Its target contacts are decision makers with titles such as Project Manager, Director of Clinical Operations, Clinical Research Associate, etc. with BS, MS or PhD degree, typically 35 to 50 years old, tech-enabled, but not necessarily tech-savvy.

They are disrupting an existing market. The current market size is about 4 billion dollars and the company has more than 20 competitors, including some billion-dollar companies such as Covance, Quintiles, and Quest. But the goal of Lab Connect is to develop a unique, distinctive and memorable brand to effectively differentiate from the much larger, more experienced competition. They want to promote the “decentralized central lab” concept with the messaging of “The world’s local central lab. Global reach. Local expertise”. As the CEO said, Lab Connect should be the “Toyota” or “Crate & Barrel” of the lab industry—connoting a well-designed product with good value. They are striving for a unique and differentiated “look and feel”. Some differentiating factors include connectivity and accuracy, humanness and “high touch” customer service, and high tech yet “user friendly”.

Positioning and Value Proposition

Positioning: The CEO wants to position Lab Connect as the “decentralized central lab” that provides biopharmaceutical companies with strategies for any phase of development, from target identification to commercialization, whether those companies require short- or long-term storage of their samples. He believes that proper sample management is a vital aspect of today’s clinical trials. Because samples may have to be retested for compliance, data or drug-safety reasons, a comprehensive bio-storage plan should be a part of their initial trial outline.

Value proposition: Lab Connect is focusing on taking customizable approach to meet clients’ protocol’s geographic and analytical needs, establishing regional laboratory hubs for site support, building industry leading specialty laboratories, providing unparalleled project management experience, developing innovative sample tracking and reporting technologies and keeping service oriented organizational culture, with solution driven mindset.

Channels and distribution

Since it’s a service company, its current sales channel is direct communications with decision makers of its target companies. They are taking a project management approach. Since the CEO used to work in the biopharmaceutical industry for several years before he founded his own company, he has a strong network in his target companies. He used to list all the primary contacts and let the sales people to call or visit them on a regular basis. Once they acquire a customer, they will have face-to-face meetings and start with project planning and hold routine project team meetings. They also have on-line collaborative tools with their clients.

Their customer acquisition is mainly through word of mouth. Starting from the CEO’s network in the industry, the company now has a stable customer group. Since the company did a good job in improving service quality and keeping a high switching cost, their retention rate is pretty high (around 22%, which is much higher than the industry benchmark). The company’s strategy is always focusing on increasing sales of existing customers. They’ve also tried email and cold-call sales to acquire new customers before, but didn’t achieve as many leads/sales as expected.

Dan Liberman from SmartThings

I interviewedDan Lieberman from SmartThings, a 3-year-old startup. Dan Lieberman has a very diverse background and expertise in technology development and has worked at RealNetworks, Cisco, frog design (to new a few) before joining SmartThings about 3 years back. Dan joined SmartThings as strategy director and technology architect but has recently moved to research and standards.

SmartThings is a platform solution for smart (or connected or automated) homes; homes which are equipped with lighting, heating, access control and electronic devices which are interactive and can be controlled remotely with a phone or computer. Smart homes typical consists of a central unit called the Hub which communicates and controls the various sensors and actuators such as motion detectors, temperature sensors, electrical switches, security cameras, light bulbs distributed all over the house.

Smart home is a relatively new market, which has sprung up in the last five years. However, even in this short time frame, a host of established companies such as GE, Philips, Belkin and small companies have entered the smart home space with smart devices (sensors and actuators which go into homes) offering, which has made this market highly fragmented and competitive. With so many different sensors and actuators from different companies, there is a lack of interoperability between different devices, which leads to very poor user experience for smart homeowners. As a result Smart home technology is still very nascent with limited adoption.

SmartThings understood this key aspect of the market from the beginning and positioned itself as a platform solution. SmartThings developed their own hub, the central device, which communicates and controls all the smart devices in the homes and interacts with the cloud platform and a smartphone app. The hub looks like a typical Wi-Fi router and plugs into the existing routers through an Ethernet cable. The hub supports ZigBee and Z-Wave, the two commonly used communication standards for smart devices and can communicate and control majority of smart devices. The hub connects to a secure cloud solution through the existing Internet infrastructure and the cloud and the smartphone can be used to control the smart devices.

The key motivation for users to transform their house into a smart home is use cases; the smart home should accomplish something their current home setup does not. For example, a smart home with security cameras, motion sensors, automated locks and alarms is a great sell as a secure home. SmartThings focused on couple of such use cases and sold starter kits, which consisted of the hub (with complementary cloud solution and smartphone app) and a few (5-7) sensors to enable different use cases. Additionally, they understood that for their platform to be successful, they needed a developer base, which would develop applications for their platform. This was essentially the app store/play store model, interesting applications on SmartThings platform would lead to more customers buying and locking down to their platform.

SmartThings developed their technology with software/application developers as their central focus. The developer applications and all the intelligence was pushed into the cloud and the hub just served as a gateway to pass commands between the cloud and the smart devices. SmartThings developed an abstracted API, which enabled the developers to write applications without the need to worry about the end devices. For example, if a developer wanted to control light bulb, he/she can just call it LightBulb1 and the platform would associate it with the available light bulb irrespective of the manufacturer and the communicate protocol used by the smart light bulb. This ease of application development attracted the developer community.

SmartThings acquired it first set of customers (and investors) i.e. both home users and developers through a Kickstarter project. Their Kickstarter campaign was hugely successful; in fact it is among the top funded projects on Kickstarter. As it’s common with all Kickstarter projects, product delivery was delayed. During this time, SmartThings used customer forums, website and email to give regular updates, receive feedback and keep user in the loop. This created a strong customer relationship and a valued and trusted user community. SmartThings primarily focused on organic marketing and gave traditional online tools (facebook, twitter) a miss for most part. They invest a lot of resources on customer engagement and awareness using video series, content marketing on blogs, articles and posts to promote SmartThings and smart devices in general. They hired a top PR firm and ensured that every positive article on smart homes had a SmartThings reference which was easy given their Kickstarter popularity.

Panel Write Up: Marketing to Investors

Panel Write Up: Marketing to Investors

Team Rider Oasis: Kevin Bielawski, Aaron Mass, Andrew Rudzitis, Ping Gong, Jess Hamilton

Introduction

We had the joy of mediating a great panel consisting of two people with a vast knowledge of the angel investing community, and an entrepreneur who is starting to seek out funding for her product. Nathan McDonald is a UW grad who is currently the CEO of Keiretsu Capital which has 315 investors throughout the northwest region and has facilitated $58 million in investment worldwide. Joshua Maher is the president of Seattle Angel which is a non-profit for educating angel investors and fund-seeking entrepreneurs, and he is finishing a book about angel investing. Stacia Pashe is the founder of itBandz which is a knee support system currently being marketed towards women. She has been working on developing the product for the past two years and is currently looking into seeking investment to finance an expansion of the company.

Highlights

All three panelists were asked about how a new venture can seek its first $10K, and each gave the answer of seeking money from “friends, family, and fools.” Stacia also gave a caveat to this piece of advice, as she wanted to emphasize that you should only take money from those that can afford to lose it, and that you should try to seek expertise that comes with your first set of money.

When asked about the ideal pitch, Nathan explained that one should provide just the right amount of information to get people excited about the business and want to learn more. The company should emphasize their top three strengths, and the the business will eventually get to speak for itself during the due diligence process. Josh mentioned that he would want to know how fast the business is growing, what that means for margins and the number of units sold, when the next funding cycle is, and whether the investment will be able to fuel the next stage of growth for the business. Stacia explained that when she has pitched to retailers, she emphasizes the product and herself, but plans to pitch more of the financials and business plan when she pitches to investors.

Josh gave an excellent breakdown of the ways in which entrepreneurs and angel investors can connect. The most common methods are angel groups which facilitate interactions between startups giving pitches, then perform the due diligence and let investors choose which company to invest in. Accelerators and incubators have funding from angels and allow the angels to be heavily involved to get a sneak-peak of the company before choosing to fund more. There is also a growing secondary market which can allow an employee or investor to sell stock while the company is still private.

Stacia broke down the process she used for customer discovery and validation. She took sewing lessons to get the first product out, which enabled rapid prototyping and input from users for future iterations. She was able to sell products 10 at a time to small running stores. All of the initial input came from user feedback, and then doctors and PTs said that it mimicked the knee naturally. Upon hearing this, Josh and Nathan agreed that having the customer validation of a product is a great way to overcome what may be perceived as a lack of expertise of the founder who does not already have a product. If she had sought funding earlier, before the customer validation, angels may have been concerned that she was not a doctor and whether should could deliver on the product.

The conversation also went into pricing strategy where Stacia mentioned that she looked at what the customer is willing to pay, what can your manufacturing processes incur, and what is the competitive landscape, including peripheral products? Josh then mentioned that investors will go and talk to those same customers and ask the same questions. He has found companies who are charging 50% less than what customers would be willing to pay for the product.

When asked about crowdfunding sources, all three panelists agreed that it can be great for validation of a particular product, but may not indicate success for a business. Josh mentioned that successful businesses can have bad Kickstarter campaigns, and vice-versa. One piece of advice Nathan gave is that if a company can continue to build and deliver on crowdfunding campaigns, then the company may not need outside funding beyond the crowdfunding sources.

 

Entrepreneur Report – Bob Greiner, HMC Farms

HMC Farms is a largely family owned and operated fruit farm in Central California. Bob is an owner in the company, however a non-family member in the HMC line. HMC was started in 1887 and has survived many changes and difficult times in the farming industry. This post is less about HMC directly, and more about Bob’s experiences as an entrepreneur.

Bob is one of three siblings, each of which are entrepreneurs or have tried their hand at creating a business. When asked about this, Bob recalled a conversation between himself, his older brother, and their father: “We were underachievers; lazy, undisciplined. One day Dad sat us down and asked us what we wanted to do with our lives.” We didn’t have any real answers, and eventually one of us asked him what he, an electrical engineer, would do if he had to do it over. “He said he would either be a dentist or a CPA.” Lo and behold, several years later Bob became a CPA, going on to earn his MBA from UW while his brother became a dentist. Bob’s path to entrepreneurship was a little different than many. “A lot of it just happened. It wasn’t really intentional – I started off at a CPA firm, and even worked for Boeing for a time, but when I got the chance to be an owner in a business I jumped at it. I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker – an entrepreneur needs to be, and needs to be forward thinking. You can’t be consumed with the right now and you need to be willing to endure some things for the future benefit. When I was much younger, I was a crab fisherman. We were paid on how many crab we caught, not on the number of hours we worked, so there was always that thrill of ‘did we let our pots down in the right spot, did the crab come?’ Part of entrepreneurship is the thrill of the hunt, like crab fishing.” Similar to the mystery of whether you have successful pots, have the decisions you made helped company come together or not.

“Entrepreneurship is a lot of hard work – nothing is as easy as it seems in the dream phase. There are some down times, some scary times.” Bob recalls a specific time when he questioned whether he had made the right career choice. In the late nineties, our business was much different. We were more of a marketing company – we had fruit of our own, but also a lot of fruit wasn’t ours but we did the packaging, etc. “The boxes for the grapes had big wooden ends, they were rigid, costly, bad for the environment. We did a bunch of research, tests, and designed new corrugated boxes to use. We developed the specifications, ordered the boxes – we said ‘we are going to take everyone to these new boxes, save all our farms a ton of money.’ Then a couple months into storage the boxes started collapsing. Fruit was molding, the gasses weren’t escaping…it was a complete DISASTER.” It turned out the box manufacturer hadn’t built the boxes to specifications and after a year of legal pursuit, Bob’s company won out. However, the prolonged legal proceedings took our attention away from running the company so long that “we thought we were going to lose it all. We were dancing along the edge of the cliff, but we were able to put together some deals to save the company. I would have much preferred to have been doing anything else other than that…that was scary.”

Being an entrepreneur has also been very rewarding. One of the best things has been “seeing the business come together and be successful…that taking those lumps early on has paid off. The company persevered through those hard times.” If my son or daughter wanted to go it on their own, “I would say Great! I would counsel them to be better planners…do your homework and be knowledgeable about what you’re doing. Align yourself with good people.”

Bob’s final words to all of us aspiring entrepreneurs; “Know your business. Align yourself with good people. Be optimistic. Persevere. Realize that nothing is as easy as it seems.”

 

Ahoy! Shore Excursions with Liquid Alaska – Port Promotions: A Chat with Founder & President, Jeff Fanning

After a long, azure stretch of open ocean, cruise ship passengers are often looking for the best means of stretching their restless sea legs. Founded in the spring of 2009 by Jeff Fanning, Liquid Alaska Tours saw the opportunity to create more value in that space where cruise tourists can find their adventurous bearing on land during their sojourn at port. After having worked in the industry for several years, Jeff was surprised that no vendors had taken advantage of the opportunity to centralize tour sales. Previously, vendors either sold tours to cruise ships – who in turn sold them to passengers at a substantial mark-up – or to passengers directly. A centralized system that provided all tours available at a given port that could be accessed in advance of arrival (usually online), as well as a kiosk on the dock for those who failed to book in advance, would provide better access, service, options, and prices for eager tourists.

The crux of their value proposition is how Liquid Alaska disrupts the pricing of tours in this market. Typically cruise lines offer the same tours that vendors sell on land but at a far higher price, whereas shore-bound vendors would rely on higher volumes but at lower margins. By creating an online marketplace where passengers could book in advance, it rewards them with lower prices and a reserved position on a tour, and it provides the seller the means to smooth sales revenue in advance of the inundation of tourists when a cruise ship arrives at port. Fortunately, Jeff’s entrepreneurial acumen proved insightful, and in five years, the Alaska native was able to grow his company substantially, ultimately acquiring the assets of a global tour provider and bringing them under the umbrella of his company. Now, Liquid Alaska – Port Promotions operates in over 200 ports around the world and favorable winds are blowing it toward even greater expansion.

The company has fundamentally positioned itself as a comprehensive tour broker that offers shore excursions at wholesale rates. It is difficult to segment the target consumer in this space, given the nature of the cruise ship industry, but broadly speaking it is the cruise ship passenger looking for an onshore excursion. Jeff pointed out that his ‘target’ demographic is between 30 and 70 years of age and, generally speaking, the younger half is more inclined to access his services online and the greying half can be found in port, at the kiosks. Very early on, the first customers were acquired the old fashioned way: in person, on the dock. However, that quickly gave way with growth and today Liquid Alaska – Port Promotions reaches out largely through digital channels, from online publication advertisements to Google AdWords to the standard players in social media.

It is an exciting industry but is not without its quirks – such as a near non-existed customer retention rate (as expensive cruises tend to be once-in-a-lifetime expenditures) – but the growth and promise of new ports ahead make sailing these entrepreneurial waters rewarding, exciting, and full of new horizons. Land, ho!

Pronto Cycles – Bike Sharing in Seattle

Pronto Cycles is a new bicycle-share service in Seattle. The concept of a bicycle share is to provide bicycles for short-term rentals throughout a city. The mission of the service is as a public transportation tool to aid people who may generally take the bus into the city, but still require additional transportation options once there. The bikes are easy and quick to check out and are intended for short term trips between destinations.

Pronto Cycle share is pursuing the general commuter as their market. They are disrupting the transportation market by providing a new service which enables people to travel to locations in lieu of personal vehicles, taxis, or buses. Although some users of Pronto Cycles may be using the bicycles for recreational purposes, the primary intent is on disrupting the commuter travel industry. This is demonstrated through the selection of stations locations was based on the proximity to businesses, schools, and retail locations. Instead of placing stations near convenient trails for recreation, the stations were situated in order to maximize use for standard trips users might make in the normal course of a day. Additionally, the pricing structure was also determined with the goal of encouraging quick trips between stations. Instead of pricing by the minute or trip, Pronto instituted passes which grant the passholder unlimited 30 minute trips. Passes may be for 24 hours, 3-days, or 1 year. This structure is meant to encourage short trips which may have otherwise occurred with a car or bus. The education program which Pronto has instituted in order to market the system is also geared towards educating consumers about how they might be able to utilize the service to avoid making an extra trip in a bus or car.

Pronto Cycles has positioned themselves as a public service which can be used as a supplemental travel option. In order to reach their first customers, Pronto relied heavily on word of mouth, press, their website, and social media. Although bike sharing services had been introduced in other cities, Pronto found a need to educate users in Seattle about how this could be used and what exactly a bike share service was. In order to help gain input and educate potential customers, Pronto held community forums. Currently, Pronto has over 2,000 followers on twitter @CyclePronto. Additionally, Pronto made use of their website and an email newsletter list to reach their first customers before and after they launched. Due to the very public nature of the service, Pronto was able to leverage the media in order to gain exposure. In particular, by being a local service, Pronto was featured in local media columns detailing the progress towards implementing the service, and announcing public forums which Pronto used to gather customer feedback.

In addition to finding their initial market, Pronto has been continuing to work to reach more customers. In order to find more customers, Pronto has reached out through bicycle advocacy groups and social media campaigns. Pronto is working to engage their customers by providing a social media campaign which encourages users to find a specially-colored bicycle and post pictures. A large part of Pronto’s mission and method to increase users is driven by getting their users to change their habits, so their marketing campaigns have been organized around encouraging people to consider biking as a mode of transit. Pronto regularly engages with their customers in order to generate interest and keep customers returning. For example, Pronto helped encourage and sponsor a race which involved using Pronto bikes to get to different locations around the city.

 

Jobvention – Automatic Sourcing Job Board

Jobvention.com is a job site that allows small and medium sized businesses to post a job and get talent referrals in 48 hours or less. Jobvention uses a combination of search and data analysis to match talent from around the web with businesses that need help. Founded in Seattle in 2013, by Microsoft and Amazon alumni, Alvin Loh and Hui Dai.

Jobvention.com has disrupted the market with its Search String Generator, companies can simply type in the key words for a job position and receive 5-10 qualified candidate leads in 48 hours. Compared with the efficient matching service at Jobvention.com, other job search websites (such as LinkedIn, Indeed.com) depend on the job searchers to register on the website and to apply for the particular position, and the recruiters need to go through the painful process of filtering through tons of resumes manually; or the head hunter needs to actually “connect” with the people on LinkedIn to get their contact information. The search tools on Jobvention.com is quite powerful, other than the candidate pool in its own candidate pool, it can also links job postings from other websites such as Craigslist and Google Apps for Business. Moreover, it aggregates information for a single post by synchronizing messages in the Gmail inbox, and present them directly as text within the app, which saves a ton of time, you don’t need to go back and forth for a job post.

Jobvention.com is mainly after the market of small and medium businesses, and the major use case is online recruiting. To target those customers, Jobvention.com has positioned itself as between Monster.com and craigslist –– it is much cheaper than Monster.com, and more professional than Craigslist. The major channel in which Jobvention.com reaches their customers is through direct mails, other channels include Facebook and Twitter.

Uphill Designs

In 2013, Dan Sedlacek (the co-founder and CEO of Uphill Designs) set out on a trek to hike from Mexico to Canada. He was unsatisfied with conventional equipment that added weight and detracted from the clarity of the experience. Dan teamed up with Mounica Sonikar and David DeBey (who I interviewed last week) to start Uphill Designs, where they design hiking equipment using sustainable, natural materials. Their first product is a bamboo trekking pole that is both stronger than aluminum and as light as carbon fiber. These trekking poles are made from close to 95% sustainable materials and in the spirit of giving back, a percentage of sales will be returned to the communities.

Trekking poles are not a new invention. Currently, the majority of trekking poles available in the market are made from aluminum or carbon fiber, which are heavy or expensive. Uphill Designs is entering an existing market is gaining attention by presenting a sustainable alternative. For consumers who care a lot about the outdoors and value a clean, uncompromising design, Uphill Designs is one of the few innovative companies that provide equipment that combines the simplicity and today’s best engineering. This is because Uphill Designs uses simple raw materials and only what is necessary for the functions that the gears are serving.

In late 2014, Uphill Designs launched the “Walk With Nature” campaign on Kickstarter. Over the course of 30 days, they had over 120 backers and successfully raised 150% of their goal. They then talked to local retailers and won the interest of REI to put their poles in their stores. In the meantime, they are focusing on manufacturing the 100 pairs of trekking poles pre-ordered through Kickstarter. The majority sales are from Seattle, but they also have a lot of sales from other regions, including China, Korea, Singapore, Australia, Germany, and Finland. It seems people all over the world are excited about the product.

The products that we bring with us to nature are reflection of who we are. There are a lot of options for outdoor activity consumers in terms of sustainable apparel, but less choices for sustainable gear. Uphill Designs’ vision is to allow people to explore the outdoors with sustainable gear and add to the legacy of innovative outdoor companies born in the Pacific Northwest.

Entrepreneur Report- Shannon Stowell, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association

Established in 1990, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) serves more than 900 members in 80 countries worldwide. Members predominantly include tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents and accommodations with a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism.

The market the ATTA is pursuing is adventure travel industry. Because the ATTA has a strong orientation towards low impact travel and less harm to the environment, the ATTA also positions itself in eco-travel industry, which is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. (TIES, 2015)

Ten years ago, when Shannon bought the company, adventure travel industry has already existed. However, there was no company that dealt with adventure travel seriously and the quality of the service was bad. As a result, the ATTA was unique back to that time. Now, the adventure travel industry is much more developed, the volume of adventure travel tourists is booming very fast. The globalization development also advances the international tourism.

The ATTA delivers solutions and connections that propel members towards their business goals and the industry toward a responsible and profitable future. The ATTA excels in professional learning, networking and partnering services. With expertise in research, education, adventure travel industry news and promotion, members of the ATTA receive competitive opportunities that help establish them as leaders in adventure tourism.

Because when Shannon came to the board, there were already several business partners, he did not need to find the first customer. However, their clients were not satisfied with their service of the time, that was the critical issue facing him. To deal with the issue, he began to talk to every clients and hear what their demands were, what they envisioned from ATTA. The financial cycle was bad at the first year, there was small income, so Shannon and one full time junior assistant and one half time staff had to cut down their budget a lot. By sincerely listening to people’s feedback, things began to pay back after three years. For now, the ATTA have 16 full time employees, 5 part time staff and 5 contract employees.

For marketing channels for the public, they have platforms in Facebook, Tweeter, Instagram, Google Plus and Youtube. Email is also a frequent and suitable tool for the ATTA. Now, it has 20,000 professional to register the ATTA email serve list. Since the ATTA insists on a business to business model, it develops their customer normally through one to one conversation. Built on interpersonal communications, Shannon believes that this can be a strong and competitive tradition for ATTA to compete with other companies. They use Sales Force, a tool to track customer relationship, to manage their clients. This tool helps them record all the conversations, how complexity the conversation is, how people meet, what service clients want to or have purchase from ATTA, and who to contact. The ATTA also has its own channel the HUB, The Adventure Travel Social Network, working as a networking forum and new business development tool.

ATTA Website: http://www.adventuretravel.biz/

Entrepreneur Report – Nussbaum Group

nussbaumgroup

Lead by landscape architect Dale Nussbaum, the Nussbaum Group has taken landscape construction and maintenance to a whole new level.   While they do not design the landscapes they do provide the following services for residential and commercial clients: collaborative landscape construction services, comprehensive organic landscape maintenance services, efficient year-round maintenance of all types of irrigation and landscape lighting systems, annual color and container designs and installation, and holiday and event lighting.

The landscape construction and maintenance market is nothing new. The Nussbaum Group however is dedicated to an elevated attention to quality and success. Dale’s experience as a landscape architect positions him as an expert in the process of landscape design and implementation. Adept at speaking the languages of design and construction Dale has his company more valuable to his clients than a typical contractor. At first glance the Nussbaum Group feels more like a design firm than contractors. This is what sets them apart and has allowed them to disrupt the market.

The Nussbaum Group straddles and interesting line between B2B and B2C. While their end clients typically are high-end residences and small commercial spaces, most of the Nussbaum Group’s marketing efforts are directed at the design firms that bring them into a project. These firms ultimately act as evangelists passing the Nussbaum Group on to their own clients where they work together to install landscapes, and the Nussbaum Group continues to work maintaining the landscapes they’ve built.

To reach the firms that bring them into projects the Nussbaum Group relies primarily on referrals and direct contact through office visits and trade shows. These efforts directly reflect their commitment to quality and service. From a branding perspective their goal is to “look smart and appeal to the high design sensibilities of Architects and Landscape Architects.” Quality comes through in everything from their sleek graphics and consistent branding, down to the weight and finish of their paper stock.   In addition to the typical logo and pantone associations to their branding the Nussbaum Group has adopted chocolate as a key element in their marketing.

One super fun strategy they have employed, Dale refers to as “Doughnut Marketing”. They bring doughnuts to design firms around town that they do or would like to do business with. This allows the Nussbaum Group to stay present in the companies’ minds, and it facilitates an ongoing conversation unbounded by the constraints of a formal meeting. As their ability to collaborate is key to the Nussbaum Group’s offerings these conversations are all the more important.

http://nussbaum-group.com/home.html

Panel Write Up: Optimizing Pricing and Distribution Plans

Panel Write Up: Optimizing Pricing and Distribution Plans
Team ClearHome (Heather Lewis, Jeff Kinney, Mary Ke, Sarah Abramowitz, Sungjoon Kim, Michael Pamphlet)

Introduction
This past Monday, our class was fortunate to hear from three very accomplished and visionary entrepreneurial thought leaders; Leigh McMillan, VP of Marketing at Avvo, Steve Banfield, Digital Executive at Rightside, and Brant Williams, Founder of Tenacious Offense and Guided Products. The panel was a split discussion, first focused on pricing and distribution and then around customer retention and referrals. Each of these topics is relevant to our class start-ups as we begin to explore what it actually  looks like to take our products to market, and retain the amount of growth and engagement that we have established through our digital marketing efforts thus far.

Key Insights
The speakers gave great advice during our discussions of pricing and distribution. They had a lot to say regarding the importance of choosing the right business model to drive pricing strategy, and understanding the pros and cons of online retail channels vs. brick and mortar stores,  as well as  the importance of SEO as part of distribution strategy.

Before landing on a pricing strategy, it is critical that we think about our business model. For ClearHome, we assumed that our product would be sold as a one-time purchase of the in-home air quality monitoring device and we would provide the app as just part of the deal. However, Brant Williams challenged us to think about whether we were selling the “razor” or the “blade”. In other words, are we focused on being profitable against the one-time purchase of the platform, or is the platform simply the open door for ongoing customer purchasing for services or add-on benefits?

In this vein, Leigh McMillan stated, “Once you have shown people there is something they can take advantage of, you have the ability to show them volume for other solutions. Get as many out there as possible and as we present problems to them with the mobile app, we make money on the backend as the entity providing the solution.” With just a business model, we may not price the device as high-end but instead competitively to increase our adoption. These were great points that our team has now taken into consideration. Similarly, she suggested that we make the app available for free download with limited functions. As users became more engaged with the app they would be encouraged to buy the hardware device in order to receive all the benefits of the product.

In thinking of distribution channels, it matters how we want to cut our profits across distributors and which channel would be most effective at getting the attention of our audience. Traditional retail may not make the most sense for us, considering the high margins taken by the stores and the fact that our potential customers are not yet aware of the ClearHome brand, and our device may suffer from bad placement on big box distributors’ shelves. Instead, we should leverage online retail to go directly to the consumer, and save significantly on shipping (single shipping for an online retailer such as Amazon, versus multiple shipping to a brick and mortar distributor). However, there are pros and cons to selling directly from our site and using other eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon. With our own site, we would not have the brand awareness to reach as many customers as established channels, like Amazon. However, with established channels comes cuts to profits. Online retailers are a friendlier place to distribute. Traditional retail usually results in a $10 sale price if the cost of goods is $1. Approximately 40% goes to distribution costs. Think about Pro.com and Porch, they are serving the connector role between consumers’ money and the services they want.

They also cautioned that if we do elect to go through traditional retail as a distribution channel, we have to be careful to avoid channel conflict. If we decide to later incorporate online sales and start selling our product online for a lower price than in stores, box retailers will be alienated and will be concerned about experiencing a drop in their margins.

We also were reintroduced to SEO as a channel strategy. This was a significant paradigm shift for many people in the class and on our team. Whereas, we often thought of SEO as the amplifier to a channel, Leigh McMillan positioned it as such a vital part of her lawyer business that it essentially was at the top of the channel strategy for her. According to Leigh,”You need to create liquidity in the market.” Her company created a free Q&A space, allowing consumers to get free answers to their questions from actual attorneys. This service was good for both customers (who received responses) and lawyers (whose expert answers worked as free advertising for their services). All the while this resulted in detailed, long-tail content which is valued highly by Google, particularly questions formatted as How Do I…? Leigh was strategic in her formatting, adding key words that would assist in the SEO, and she was careful not to tag duplicate content. Leigh also used referrals and offered a first-time complimentary service to new customers, resulting in more traffic and ultimately more search power to her site. Similarly, this quality SEO allowed her company to initially get around branding and recognition. Once this SEO strategy resulted in significant traffic, they then shifted to accelerating their growth which requires gaining consumer trust, by creating a known, recognizable brand. This multi-pronged SEO strategy could be a critical part of our ClearHome plan, especially with a new product space like home air quality assistants, because the market is not yet saturated.

Entrepreneur Report- OneBuild

OneBuild is a supplier, manufacturer, and real estate developer of prefabricated, steel residential units. The units are built in China and then shipped over to Seattle. The pods are then transferred over to the construction site and stacked on top of each other like Lego. This type of construction technology saves time and money, and has ultimately introduced a new construction method to the Pacific Northwest.

OneBuild’s one-bedroom units could be considered micro housing, as they are approximately 350 sf, while the two-bedroom units are 700 sf. The company is targeting individuals seeking an urban lifestyle, as the concept of OneBuild is ideal for infill, urban development. OneBuild is essentially disrupting an existing market and creating a new one. They are disrupting the current small sf unit size multifamily developments. Demanders of this type of space may view OneBuild as innovative and a more appealing option than the typical wood framed, relatively cheap construction of normal multifamily developments. OneBuild is also creating a new niche for themselves in the market with the goal of attracting new customers. This type of construction, while popular globally has not yet taken off in North America. It is OneBuild’s goal to attract new demanders of space through their unique approach of modular, prefabricated living.

OneBuild’s positioning is clearly defined by the innovative approach to construction and living that they offer their target market. It takes but one glance of their product to understand the uniqueness of their brand.

Belltown Apartment

N-Habit Belltown (www.onebuildinc.com)

Due to the small size of the units it is clear that this style of living is not for everyone. It is however, perfect for the young professional who values urban living, quality, and innovative technology.

OneBuild is trying to reach their consumers primarily through word of mouth and by physically visiting their projects. They have set up social media channels, but they truly feel that one cannot appreciate the uniqueness of their product without actually seeing it in person. It is OneBuild’s goal to continue to reveal that the construction industry can be revolutionized and that it is moving forward with cost and time effective construction techniques.

Entrepreneur Interview: Kevan Brown – Northwest Hoops Leagues

I decided to interview Kevan Brown – an entrepreneur who is currently enrolled in the Foster School of Business Evening MBA Program at the University of Washington. Kevan started Northwest Hoops Leagues: a Seattle based company that provides a high quality recreational basketball league for players 21 years and up. In addition to the competitive nature of the game, Kevan provides players with stats, a profile specific to each player, box scores, and photos accessible through Facebook and the League’s website (http://northwesthoopsleagues.com/). Unique from the other basketball leagues available to players, Kevan provides the entire schedule for each season so players can plan for games more in advance.

The type of market that the company is pursuing is a working professional who is physically active and has played basketball in the past. Kevan wants to bring a level of competition available for all skill levels. As mentioned above, the unique attributes of Kevan’s basketball league is providing the boxscore, stats, and player profile to each player. Kevan’s not trying to re-invent the wheel, but what he is doing is providing Seattle with a league unlike his own with the unique attributes that he provides his basketball players.

Going into year 2 of his basketball league, Kevan is continuing to position his company as a recognized brand within the recreational basketball community. His league is currently full, consisting of 10 teams and a waitlist of teams wanting to compete in future seasons. The Northwest Hoops League is now a recognizable brand, but it took Kevan time to experiment through several social channels for brand recognition. When Kevan first reached out to his first customers, he tried using Facebook Ads and bought ad space online to advertise his basketball league. Unfortunately, the success of these channels to attract new basketball players did not result in what Kevan was looking for. Instead, Kevan says that the best channel to get new basketball players and to grow his brand is through word of mouth from current players talking to their family and friends.

In talking to Kevan, I got a sense of the time, emotion, and energy he has put into his Northwest Hoops League. I want to thank Kevan for letting me interview his experience as an entrepreneur and I wish him the best of luck with his company and the pursuit of his MBA. Thanks again, Kevan!

Blog #4 – Retargeting

Products: I used to shop in Macy’s online store. Recently I just searched for boots on Macy’s website and clicked on the product I’m interested in and stayed on that webpage for couple of minutes. Several minutes later when I logged on my Facebook page, that pair of boots appeared on the right hand side of my Facebook page.Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.33.09 PM

Services: I just joint Marketing Profs as a member and have searched for its online courses. Several days later when I happened to go to gigaom.com to read a marketing article, the online course provided by Marketing Profs appeared on that webpage. Another example is about Marketo. I used to search for marketing articles through Marketo. And an ad asking me to download an article from Marketo was magically showing up on my Facebook page. I’ve also seen many other retargeting examples from online retail stores such as Amazon.com and taobao.com.

Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.18.42 PM Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.36.14 PM Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.38.31 PM

Generally speaking, these retargeting type of ads are distracting, especially when they are showing up on some totally irrelevant website of their business. But they are still effective in my opinion since they do make me more likely to buy and I did take many actions through those retargeting ads. I will download most of the articles from Marketo whenever I saw the ads on other website. And I used to spent hundreds of dollars on Amazon.com through its retargeting ads. The most important reason those ads work for me is because they know my product preference and shopping style through my recent activities on their website. So the products or services they displayed on the other website are either attractive for me in general or what I’m looking for recently. That’s how retargeting ads success – get to know the customers purchasing behavior and meet their demand.

Re-targeting

I don’t know whether things have changed recently, because I haven’t been able to catch the sneaky culprits on my favorite sites, but it used to be that Foster School of Business and the Husky Team Store were the two biggest re-targeting offenders. The two would split time prominently displayed on my favorite “news” site (Dawgman.com) and on my favorite media channel (Pandora.com).

For me, neither were effective. With the Foster ads, I am obviously already enrolled in the program and thus do not need to be sold on it’s benefits. As for the Husky Team Store, I can definitely see how this could have been an effective strategy as the ads were usually displayed where I was consuming other Husky news. However my purchasing behavior is more direct than that…I don’t generally make purchases on a whim, they are usually planned, making these types of ads less effective at inspiring action on my part.

B-2-B ads resulted from our Class Assignment

So I shop quite a bit on Nordstrom online. Often I put my stuff into my online shopping cart so I can better see what I am interested in buying over time. However, more recently I noticed Nordstrom is growingly aggressive in sending me “There’s Still Stuff in My Cart” emails. They also occasionally post those items I like or I viewed as part of my FB feeds.

Over the weekend, due to the need to find content for this assignment, I saw something which made me tick. I noticed an advertisement featuring, GUESS WHAT?, that’s trying to sell me TINYhr.

I know you probably don’t know what TINYhr is but this was the company that I wrote for one of my other blog assignments. I couldn’t believe it. The cookies/computer think I am a business company -it is trying to sell a business/enterprise software to me without realizing I am actually a person.

That said, I am getting a bit wary of these tracking “cookies”. In retrospect, as I began to understand the issue of privacy on the internet more and more, I am deeply thinking question the purpose of such data collection. If unprotected and unregulated, such data could turn the benefits of technology into a threat to personal security and personal welfare. I wish there’s a community I’d join and learn more about how these ad issues can be addressed at the point of web designing.

Unique Mix of Targeted Ads

Gilt.com appears to have heavily invested in targeting online marketing.  Usually I browse on Gilt and then if I can make it passed the initial urge to buy I forget about what I saw and wanted shortly after. I first noticed their targeted ads a few weeks ago when I added a jacket that had sold out to my waitlist.  When it became available again it magically started appearing all over the internet, taunting me, just begging for me to buy it.    At first I thought the ads were a bit unsettling, but the more I saw that jacket the more I wanted it.  If it wasn’t wildly out of my price range the ads probably would have persuaded me to buy it.  As an experiment I added another dress to my cart, and within seconds it showed up on my facebook page, right next to ads for bootstrap themes from a site which I had been browsing last week looking for inspiration for a web development project I was working on.   I wasn’t looking to buy a theme, but certianly was interested in related content.  It was interesting to see two highly targeted ads placed next to each other, that would probably never appear together in any other context.

Targeted Ads

Ad on Sina Weibo

I’m considering applying for a new credit card and I have been comparing different credit cards using different websites. When I logged in my Sina Weibo (a Chinese microblogging website) account, this ad showed up. These ads are not very effective for me because I only search for products when I am in the mood. If I’m checking my Weibo, I will not switch to other website.Screen Shot 02-08-15 at 11.00 PM

They’re always watching…

Tonight’s selection was as wide and varied as my browsing habits seem to be:

GA

First, it was General Assembly – Learn to Code for Free! This one makes total sense, every couple of months, I try to convince myself to take up coding, search around for a lesson, then give up. Every. Single. Time. I don’t know how to code as of yet, but this has reminded me that I’m pretty sure I’d like to learn.

Sorel

Next on the docket were Sorel boots at Zappos. Totally legit, I just purchased a pair of winter boots just before the holidays and spent an inordinate amount of time searching for that perfect waterproof, lined, winter boot. You’re too late to the party, Zappos. I already made my winter purchase.

Bombfell Third up, Bombfell. This was a bombshell, indeed. Never heard of the company, but in the name of SEO and online marketing, I clicked on the website. A monthly subscription service for hip men’s clothes. Very good, marketing bot, I do have a male aged 24 – 35 living in my house who is fashion conscious but hates the act of picking out and buying clothes. You’ve done your homework.

MarathonThe last ad I saw tonight? The New York City Marathon. Too far, marketing bot, too far. First of all, I ran a marathon in September. It was my second, and so, unlike my first, I was not obsessed over trying to find a training schedule I could manage (or rather, the least training I could do to finish said marathon.) Then, as many people do after they run a marathon, they vow never to ever run a marathon again. Of course, the holidays roll around and I’m trying to thing of my New Year’s resolution and think (note: only think, not say out loud) that I would like to run another marathon. Then here you are, marketing bot, reading my mind.

And in case you’re curious, I’m not going to apply by Feb 15 to run in the NYC Marathon.

Entre 555 – Blog 4 Finishline Ad on my Facebook!

The web pages I most often visit are Nike.com, Eastbay.com, and Finishline.com. I have bought many items from all 3 websites.

I went to my Facebook page I noticed a banner ad for Finishline.com. The Ad was not very impressive as it showed a ‘Jordan’ brand shoe that I had zero interest in. I did click on the Ad, and it took me to the order page for the exact shoe in the Ad. If I was interested in the shoe it would have been a very convenient way for me to order the shoe.

I would say these ads are not effective – at least for me. I am very particular in what shoe/sneaker to buy, so it would be a very low probability of the Finishline Ad to have a shoe I am interested in buying. The Ads don’t make me buy what is advertised, but it may make me more likely to buy as a situation may occur that I’m reminded to buy something that I’ve been meaning to order (like socks). If the Ad did not exist in this example, then I may never make the sock purchase on Finishline. Instead I may have purchased my socks from a different company.HW #4 - Ads Facebook

Blog #4 JackThreads

The product that pops up a lot on my screen is JackThreads. JackThreads is a flash sale site focused on selling brands’ overstocked product (men’s clothes) at low prices. JackThreads sells everything from jeans to dress clothes to watches. There pricing is very appealing. You can become a JackThreads member simply through signing up on Facebook. You get JackThreads store credit by sharing the website to friends.

I have only purchased an item once from the website, but I do visit it once every few weeks to see if there are any great deals. I’m seeing more and more JackThreads ads over the Internet. For me the advertising is extremely effective because it is a page that I truly enjoy, especially because of all the good deals that they have. I believe that if JackThreads model did not revolve around selling discounted men’s wear I would be turned off by the advertising. What makes JackThreads great are the discounts they offer. If it was any other online shopping website I wouldn’t take notice.

Blog #3: Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2 is the second version of the popular credit card form factor computer, hugely popular for teaching computer science in school.  The new version sells for the same price, $35 and features:

  • A 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU (~6x performance)
  • 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM (2x memory)
  • Complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1

The second version has upgraded to an ARM7 core which can now run of ARM GNU/Linux distributions, including Snappy Ubuntu Core, as well as Microsoft Windows 10. If I were Eben Upton, the CEO of Raspberry Pi, I will contact the following people:

Leo Kelion (@LeoKelion): Technology desk editor of BBC news

Klint Finley (@klintron): Wired Reporter

Luke Westaway (@lukewestaway): CNET Senior Editor

ZenHub.io

ZenHub is a workflow management tool for GitHub. ZenHub offers many of the project management attributes you would expect, including kanban boards, communication tools, file sharing, etc, but  is the only tool runs natively in GitHub’s interface. This allows users to avoid context switching with third-party tools and to work more cohesively within GitHub. They provide a feature set designed to empower teams from large enterprises, as well as the open source development community.

I would recommend ZenHub reach out to:

Ben Sandofsky (@sandofsky) – He has blogged about git on his site, and seems to be well connected in the tech community.

Coderwall.com (@coderwall) – Coderwall is a collaborative learning platform for software developers to improve their programming knowledge.

OPEN, by NY Times (@NYTDevs) – Open is a blog about code and development written by NY Times developers, covering topics from their own open source projects and api’s to the technology driving open source projects.

Blog #3 – Headout

The company I find compelling on ProductHunt.com is Headout. It is a tour-planning app designed to book tours, fun activities and attraction tickets at the last minute on mobile device at cheaper prices. Currently it only provides services in New York and Las Vegas.

Here are the three bloggers I would like to reach out if I were the CEO:

Arabella Bowen: @arabellabowen. She’s the editor-in-chief at Fodors Travel. She’s a frequent traveller, a fan of arts and good designer. She’s also an active blogger with 1,447 followers in Twitter. Since she’s a decision maker in the travel magazine and also a professional traveller, she could be a good influencer of Headout by writing compelling stories on both the magazine and her blog.

Wendy Perrin: @wendyperrin. She’s a travel expert, author, speaker and founder of TripAdvisor’s Travel Advocate with 57.1K followers on Twitter. I believe she’s a big influencer in the travel industry. If she could write something about Headout, the company website traffic will be largely increased.

Tim&Nat: @acooknotmad. They are travel experts and storytellers with 3,712 followers on their Twitter account. I believe from experiencers’ perspective, they could be good advocates or evangelists of Headout.

Wingz

Wingz provides scheduled rides to airports in the Bay Area (SFO, OAK, SJC) and in Los Angeles (LAX, BUR). It is similar to Uber and Lyft but Wingz rides can be scheduled in advance, even at 5am.

Three bloggers I would reach out to are:

Sarah Lacy (@sarahcuda)

She has been covering technology news for over 15 years, most recently as a senior editor for TechCrunch.

Clover Hope (@clovito)

She has 10+ years of experience running print and digital, with a focus on digital and mobile programming.

Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen)

He is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed.

The Invisible Girlfriend – get your family off your case!

For real, this is a thing: pay for a fake girlfriend, complete with picture, bio, and texts; and get your family off your back!

If you’re anything like this gal in NYC, you might be the type of person who really just wants to go about their life in peace, but are constantly fielding ridiculous texts or calls from family members asking why you don’t have a significant other (SO). Perhaps your meddling parent has tried to set you up on a date or given your number to complete strangers.

Enter The Invisible Girlfriend (and The Invisible Boyfriend): a service that allows you to choose through photos of potential SOs, choose their name, age, and how you met, and the website will respond to your texts and help you maintain a blatant lie so that your family stops harassing you about dating.

Find your customer’s pain point –> Solve it.

Desired contacts:

@crazyjewishmom on Instagram / @crazyjewishmom_ on Twitter – her mom is on her case, maybe she will be satiated when she has a nice, Jewish doctor as a boyfriend.

@tinder – I wanted to wait to add this one, it might be NSFW.

@geekswhodrink – Because there are some stereotypes about geeks.

@newtechseattle – New to a city? Also need a SO?

RosterBot

For blog 3, I was interested in RosterBot. This is a tool directed towards managing recreational sports teams and leagues. The application has features for managing schedules, standings, invoices, and rosters. I would reach out to the following three people to gain press about this company.

Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski)

Greg Syshynski is a hockey blogger for Yahoo, and would reach a large audience of participants in recreational hockey leagues who might otherwise not pay attention to typical technology and lifestyle blogs.

Mark McClusky (@markmcc)

Mark McClusky is a writer for Wired who commonly reports on sports-related topics. His recommendation of the product would likely reach a connected audience who may have kids in sports leagues, or be in a variety of recreational sports leagues themselves.

Dave Greenbaum (@calldrdave)

Dave Greenbaum is a contributer to Lifehacker, and has perviously reported on a similar app. Interest from people who follow Dave would likely capture tech-oriented people who may find uses for the application beyond its stated use for sports teams and leagues.

Blog #3: Exploding Kittens

I chose to look at Exploding Kittens. This is a game developed by the creator of The Oatmeal. The reason I find it so fascinating is that it a simple card game, yet it has launched the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever. So far the campaign has raised $5,057,070 and it’s not even done yet! It still has 18 days remaining to raise more funds.

This game is already receiving a lot of press and hype, however it wouldn’t hurt for them to continue to reach out to the press and bloggers to expand their reach beyond the kickstarter crowd. I would recommend that the primary creator, Matthew Inman, along with his fellow creators, reach out to the following bloggers in order to increase their visibility.

1) Eli Sanders-@elijsanders

In order to gain more traction in the Seattle area I recommend Eli, a fixture at The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper, website and blog with a large readership base. While he typically blogs about politics and hard-hitting news, he does occasionally post about lighter topics. A post from his could have a broad reach.

2) Jace Lacob-@televisionary

Buzzfeed’s Entertainment Editorial Director

3) Christina Bonnington-@redgirlsays

Staff writer for Wired.

Blog #3 – Gitlab

I choose to pick Gitlab (https://about.gitlab.com/) product. Like GitHub, it is an open source version control product to manage code repositories. It offers following advanctages over GitHub: Unlimited repositories, disk space and private collaborators. I believe following people can help the product by blogging about it:

Blogger #1

Name: Matthew J McCullough

Twitter Hashtag: @matthewmccull

Matthew J McCullough is a software engineer and trainer for open source technologies such as GitHub, which is a competitive product. If he blogs about GitLab and say positive things that would be a big endorsement for the product.

Blogger #2

Name: Tim Berglund

Twitter Hashtag: @tlberglund

Tim is Director of Training at DataStax. He teaches people about open source technology. He has 4300 followers on Tweeter and tons of training videos on youtube.com. If we can get Tim talks about our product, it would be a big win.

Blogger #3

Name: Klint Finley

Twitter Hashtag: @klintron

Klint Finley is a technology reporter at TechCrunch. He has also contributed to other publications such as ReadWriteWeb, Disinfo and Shift. In the past he has written number of articles on GitHub and other open source technologies. He has 7400+ followers on Twitter. If Klint publishes an article about GitLab on TechCrunch that would help the company getting a significant publicity.