Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Springwise – Source of Innovative Ideas

Are you looking for that innovative idea that will inspire your next startup? I found a source called Springwise that captures new ideas from around the world. In the current edition, I found “Mobile Marketing at Music Festivals” an interesting idea. Instead of holding up a lighter during a concert to register your affirmation of a song, how about holding up a mobile phone with a lighter glowing on the display? How about applets you can download to help you find others in the crowd?

How about parties for foodies? In these events, you need only get a group of people together. Consultants bring the food to the meeting for you to sample. It’s a direct sales technique but for a free meal of new and interesting cuisine it sounds like a lot of fun.

Then there’s “Ridesharing with a Twist” which utilizes social networking sites to help people find carpool rides that are more interesting. Finally, there’s the “Scoring for Simpler Shopping Comparison” in which a web site gives a single number score (1-100) for a product. Most sites provide data covering several screens making comparisons difficult.

In each of the examples above, Springwise highlights a startup in that space so you can dig into the idea and see how they are executing it. I recommend you check it out as it may spur some ideas for your own startup.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Monday, October 1, 2007

David Altounian’s iTaggit—Keeping Track of Your Personal Stuff

I had my morning coffee at Uno’s today with David Altounian who now runs iTaggit which is an internet site that lets users organize and inventory their personal assets such as jewelry, artwork, etc. They generate revenue from advertisements, and referrals to service providers.

David has an interesting history going back to Dell where he ran Dell Labs for several years before moving on to startup Motion Computing the maker of tablet PCs. Along the way he picked up an MBA at Chicago’s Kellogg school of Management. According to David, his post-career goal is teaching Marketing Strategy in a university. I asked how he came up with the idea for iTaggit. While in university he saw numerous services that managed people’s financial assets but nothing that managed their physical assets. From that observation he concluded that people needed better tools to keep track of their stuff for insurance purposes, and other reasons.

David went on to talk about iTaggit’s growth. They just released an eBay Auction function on iTaggit’s site. It lets the user tag one of his items to sell on eBay and an eBay pop-up let’s the user customize the HTML for presentation of the item and brings all the relevant information from iTaggit’s database into the eBay posting. He recently upgraded the user interface and found a nice increase in business. In one case, the simple change of a background color made a big difference.

David talked about the benefit of taking less money in a startup rather than more. It teaches you how to spend more carefully. Motion only raised $6M but could have reached for $30M or more. He also spoke about finding the right fit between the entrepreneur and the investor. Sometimes the money is available but the funding source needs to fit well with the startup.

Best regards,
Hall T.