Paul, how exactly does Social Kredits work, and how would the currency be redeemed on Facebook? Is this like a poor man's bitcoin? Is virtual currency the next bubble?
Social Kredits at its core is very similar to a rewards program that you might have as part of your credit card. As you make purchases through any of our 7,500+ advertising partners, you earn Kredits that can be redeemed for Facebook 'Money' and deposited directly into your Facebook account.
Bitcoin is an interesting comparison to Social Kredits and other more traditional programs. The main difference is that, while Bitcoins are also a form of virtual currency, Bitcoin operates like cash in the sense that it is not platform dependant and is extremely liquid. With Social Kredits and other reward programs you can redeem on things within the specific ecosystem (games, services, gifts, etc...). It's like comparing a dollar bill to a $1 gift card.
For virtual currencies as a whole, they come in so many countless forms (credit card points, airline miles, grocery rewards, etc...) that many have busted and others have stood the tests of time. I will say they are getting more complex everyday and these days it takes a deep understanding of economics and consumer behavior to manage a virtual currency effectively.
Elana, love the chats and your excellent columns in the Post on Monday's. I always learn so much! With the new crowdfunding rules passed by the SEC, do you think more small startups will be able to receive real dollars? What about the scammers? What's your take?
Thanks -- we enjoy speaking with so many great entrepreneurs. I do think that crowdfunding will result in some real money to startups -- but I think the model will take a few years (or more) to work itself out. Already there are have been a lot of lawsuits on existing non-equity based crowdfunding like Kickstarter, so imagine that will also increase as the rules shake out for equity platforms. Like many multisided platforms, the net net should be to create a better marketplace between buyers and sellers.
My partner and I started a business (e-Bay reseller of kid stuff, like car seats and toys) but now we are having a dispute. We don't have any formal arrangements. What should we do? She is not doing any work anymore.
Very tricky situation. I'd imagine that regardless of outcome you both will need to be amiable enough to put a legal agreement together that either defines how you both will move forward together or outlines the split-up of assets/value.
In general it is always a MUST to get an agreement in place. It's easy, especially between two people that know each other well, to kick that can down the road, but putting together something simple is quick and cheap and will protect everyone.
I agree with Paul that you need to have agreements in place. I'd also work to figure out why your partner has stopped doing any work? Is it that they have lost interest or is there something else going on? This might be a good inflection point to step back an assess the assets you bring to the table and your combined commitment to the venture.
I have been focusing on the farmer's/artisan market network to test out customer interest in my jewelry. I understand that I have steep competition with jewelry since everyone seems to be wanting part of the Pinterest/Etsy craze. When I'm selling at markets, I always get compliments ranging from how interesting my pieces are to how professional and manufactured they look. However, my sales are low. I try to keep my prices reasonable - between $5-$15. What should I be focusing on in order to increase my sales since the customer feedback is all positive?
Are your sales low because the venue's are small or are you expecting more sales based on what you see other vendors at these markets bringing in? If your jewelry is getting good feedback locally I'd definitely consider sharing it with a broader audience online and see if the feedback remains positive on a larger scale? You mentioned Pinterest and Etsy, those are great places to explore growing into. Its so cheap and easy to set up a simple storefront or put your products on various online marketplaces that it might be worth just putting up a couple of your more popular pieces and gauging the response and if your local 'tastes' in jewelry are shared nationally.
Elana, I saw the recent news about the Dingman Center Angels being one of the most active networks in the country. What do you think this means for the DC/MD startup community?
Well, breaking news --- we do have angel investors in Washington. The most interesting piece of data in those numbers is the level of follow-on activity. While Washington doesn't have as many angels as other regions, the angels here take their investments seriously and are looking for longer term relationships. Rather than making a lot of "bets" and writing a limited number of 2nd checks, our angels are taking more informed bets on companies where they think they can make an impact and digging in for the long haul.
Not sure if you can help... I used PayPal to buy something from a small business. They had an Etsy store, but I purchased directly from their Web site. They never delivered and have now disappeared. Website, Etsy, and Facebook pages are all gone. It has been more than the 45 days which PayPal offers for disputes. I am not sure how to track down the couple who ran the business or how to request a refund.
Well, depending on how much you spent on this product the amount of time you spend hunting them down and possibly initiating small claims dispute might outweigh what you initially spent. This is certainly a "buyer's beware" situation. The web makes it extremely easy for anyone to sell goods & services. That is why companies like Amazon & eBay provide value by certifying sellers and providing reviews.
Elana gave some great ideas which I'd definitely pursue. Unfortunately sometimes dealing with small businesses (as we've seen countless times here) you're just out of luck. If they go under/out of business you're going to spend time trying to squeeze water our of a stone and it's often not worth the trouble.
I'm sure their are many, but what is the number one character trait or action/decision you made to which you attribute your success in starting and growing your business?
I am in the process of developing a piece of technology that will revolutionize the way people workout. I want to start promoting the product and build a buzz before our launch date. What is stopping someone from stealing my idea and launching it first? Is there anything I should look out for?
Congrats on your pending launch. Do you have anything you think id patentable? Initially, I had the same concerns with our business. Over time, I became less and less concerned as I realized that other companies are far too busy dealing with their own products and problems to worry about. It sounds like you'll have a first mover advantage too so as long as you're diligent you can evolve your product while others play catch-up.
In reality there isn't anything stopping them, but that rarely happens. IP is important, but what you do with that IP will dictate your success. In talking to potential customers, you can certainly discuss the value you will bring rather than your secret sauce of how you are doing it. I wouldn't focus so much on building buzz -- but on verifying that you are building something that people want to buy. Sometimes early buzz hurts you if your product isn't ready for prime tie.
We just launched a tech startup and my team is wondering if we should stay in the DC area or move to the more active tech hot spots such as San Francisco, New York or Boston. We feel like funding and technical talent is more abundant in those cities. What is your viewpoint?
Although I might be biased that this area is a great place to be starting a company, I do think that any business needs to think about what resources they will need to grow. Certain areas of the country have skill sets, expertise, investors, labs, etc. for specific sectors. Consumer Internet is harder in D.C. -- but education, healthcare, cybersecurity, even gaming are no brainers. Not only do we have the experts in many sectors, we also have one of the largest customers (federal gov't, when open) but one of the most educated populations. Like anything, assess what you need and the location/resources that will match those needs.
For us, being in Columbia, we're regionally unique enough business to cut through the clutter in terms of both funding and hiring. In San Francisco, New York, etc., sometimes you're a small fish in a big pond and it can feel like everyone has a startup. Where we are, we can hire from two major cities (Baltimore and D.C.) and there is a ton of technical talent in this area from University of Maryland and other colleges. If you can bring something fresh and new to an area you can be that big fish in a small pond. The Internet works all over the world :).