Category Archives: Internet & Web X.0

CEO & Founders Series, Interview #10: Dorado Capital

Folks, we’ve got a serial entrepreneur for this interview… if you were shopping online for music in the 90s, then you knew of CDNow. Jason Olim, one of the founders is onto something new in the college savings market. I’ll admit that I know very little about this but I do know it’s a huge market and is starting to see a few web players emerge

Please welcome both a friend and fellow entrepreneur, Jason Olim.

1. Please state your name, title, and years at current company/position
Jason Olim, CEO, 10 months at Dorado Capital.

2. What are you currently up to?
I am part of a four person founding team trying to solve the problem of saving for a child’s college education. We are educating the parents and getting the community involved in making sure that a child can afford a top quality education.

3. Why are you doing this? You could be doing so many other things in the world, what about this particular idea strikes you?
The main thing that drew me to this startup is the team. I really enjoy working with the other three founders and I’m glad to have a chance to spread the workload. Of course, consumer marketing is my main interest and the product itself is something that I want when I have kids.

4. All startups should be addressing a problem in the market. What is that exact problem and how are you solving it?
It costs a fortune to send kids to college, and parents who take action early are in the best financial shape. Dorado helps parents to figure out exactly what college will cost and open a college savings account. Best of all, it allows friends and family to make contributions directly to their savings account.

5. Have you thought about your business model yet? I’m assuming so, so tell us a bit about it.
Use of the site, including the planning tools and the gifting capabilities, is totally free. Dorado capital is a financial advisor; we earn a commission on assets under management in savings accounts. We also market related products and services, such as savings-linked credit cards and savings accounts.

6. As an entrepreneur or investor, what are your thoughts on competition? How do you view competition?
Competitors can take away your lunch just as it is being served. We are preparing ourselves to compete both with new entrants and with existing players who might want to move in our direction.

7. If your competitor called you up to have coffee and discuss shop, what would you do? Would you go? What would you divulge?
We would absolutely meet the competitors to find out what their goals are, how we might work together and what we should expect from each other.

8. Is the current state of the economy playing to your favor? If so, why? If not, why? What is your forecast of the market throughout 2008 and do you see affects? Macro and Micro economic theory would be interesting to hear about.
I’m concerned that the current market is not as favorable as it was a year ago. People may be more skittish now about saving in the financial markets and they may feel less able to put money aside. However, potential increases in taxes make college savings accounts more attractive.

9. How much of your time is spent working? How much is spent with family? Have you found the entrepreneurial quality of life yet?
I spend about 50 hours/week working on the business, mostly from home or at meetings. This business is easier than the last because the founding team shares the goal of making this company work, and they bring complementary skills to the enterprise. Quality of life is excellent at the moment.

What Goal Are You Saving For? Tell Us to Win $50!

SmartyPigI received a few emails from Jon Gaskell, the co-founder of social saving company, SmartyPig offering to give me a $50 credit to his new startup to either use myself or to donate to anyone. I was skeptical at first, but when the card arrived on my doorstep, I knew he was serious.  I thought about what I should do with the card and decided that it would be better off with someone who could use it to help reach a savings goal.

With SmartyPig, you actually set up a savings account with the bank it’s partnered with (West Bank), and invite others to contribute to your savings account. A great writeup of SmartyPig is located here, on Mashable.

SmartyPig has an inspiration section which lists dozens of stories on how saving money has helped people and their families. Example:

When my family takes its next vacation, we’ll be doing so with the money that we’ve put aside using SmartyPig. With SmartyPig, financial planning for goals is a breeze.” John – Boulder

So, are you saving for something? Please leave a comment on this posting about what you’re saving for and by the end of this week, I’ll select a winner. Check back by Thursday evening to see who won. I’ll mail the gift certificate to your home or office… $50.


Mobile Wednesdays

I’ve been meeting with mobile marketing startups for the last 6 years but have always remained hesitant to participate in the space because of the current infrastructure and mobile marketing initiatives. I guess all of the research and constant phone calls have softened me up to the mobile world and last week, posted about the iPhone.

I was reading some research this morning and wanted to share these tidbits from both Nielsen (mobile stats overall) and Rubicon Consulting (iPhone data):

  • A third of iPhone users carry a second phone. There have been anecdotal reports of iPhone users carrying a second mobile phone, either for basic voice calling, or for other functions like composing e-mail. The survey confirmed those reports.
  • A quarter of iPhone users say it’s displacing a notebook computer. 28% of iPhone users surveyed said strongly that they often carry their iPhone instead of a notebook computer.
  • The iPhone increases phone bills. The iPhone has increased its users’ monthly mobile phone bills by an average of 24%, or $228 extra per year.
  • E-mail is the #1 function. The most heavily used data function on the iPhone is reading (but not writing) e-mail.

Note that the iPhone data is skewed towards the early adopters.  I’m not sure that the mainstream adopters are going to replace their computer for an iPhone but this data is indicative of how mobile may shape the future.  The Nielsen report is located here if you’d like to read it.

MediaPost sent out a research brief this morning (I usually ignore them) and had some interesting information:

  • The number of data users who recalled seeing mobile advertising between the second and fourth quarters of 2007 increased 38% (from 42 to 58 million subscribers)
  • Asian-Americans and African-Americans are more likely to recall mobile advertising (42% and 40%, respectively) than all data users
  • 26% of those who saw an ad responded at least once by sending an SMS text-message, the most popular ad response.  9% say they’ve used click-to-call to respond to a mobile ad
  • 32% of data users said they are open to mobile advertising if it lowers their overall bill

These numbers are impressive but I’m assuming the response rate will drop as the medium becomes cluttered.  I’m personally not sold about getting SMS marketing on my mobile phone as that tends to remind me of SPAM in the days of email marketing.  The response rates for email marketing were extremely high in the early days but as the medium got cluttered, they dropped significantly.

What Women Want: Clothing (Part 1 of Series)

Beth Snyder Bulik penned a great article first over at AdAge Digital entitled What Women Want but I thought I’d write a few thoughts here on my blog. For whatever reason, I’ve been spending a bit of time lately looking at the woman audience and their patterns online. From looking and analyzing Glam (the uber-woman’s network) to StyleObserver, and many things in between (including HermanWeb), I’m fascinated with what is happening digitally.  Heck, even Yahoo! launched their woman’s fashion site today.

There are seven areas that Bulik outlines in her great piece for AdAge:

  • Women are increasingly consumer more online video
  • Frequent shoppers
  • Parenting
  • Pay for play casual gamers
  • Social singles
  • Healthy living
  • Romance

For this specific blog posting, I’m going to concentrate on frequent shoppers because that’s all I have time for right now (to be honest).
Women are stereotypical shoppers. I can only talk for myself but most women I meet certainly do love shopping and again, in my instance, generally buy most household products on a daily basis. Many marketers single-out males for high ticket purchases and for electronics, but in my case, women are the audience to target because they control the daily purchasing decisions and budget.

When we think of shopping [for women], we think of clothing. This is an area that is getting a lot more interesting online and have spoken with a few folks recently who are innovating in this space. StyleObserver is essentially a mashup of editorial content and pictures. ShopBob is innovating in the space by offering a hi-resolution lookbook. To enable anyone to create a mashup of “looks,” head over to Polyvore and setup an account. They are enabling the mashup of shopping… and it’s certainly peeking my interest.

Use case for Polyvore: My niece is looking for a new outfit for her birthday and puts together jeans from brand, a shirt from another, and shoes from a third brand. Polyvore helps show them all together and allows someone to purchase (potentially) the individual items easily.

What does this all mean? Women are becoming technically sophisticated online with the way they are mashing everything up for their shopping habbits. It’s not just individual women who are doing such, but brands are as well. Look at the way Diane von Furstenberg is communicating with her clients. Online retailers such as Revolve have blogs as well.

If we look at the Internet, we know it can handle commerce. Hence, e-commerce. We also know that an increasing amount of people are spending time online. Women are feeling comfortable spending online. Natural fit for clothing & the Internet? Quite possibly….

Another Book You Ask?

AoC BannerHot off the release of Coloring Outside the Lines, I’ve been asked to contribute to this year’s edition of The Age of Conversation (AoC).

A little background:  Last year, two marketing bloggers whom I greatly admire, Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan “challenged bloggers around the world to contribute one page — 400 words — on the topic of “conversation.” The resulting self-published book, authored by 100 writers and thinkers, was sold online, with the proceeds benefiting Variety, The Children’s Charity.

I’m extremely excited to partake in this project especially with the proceeds going to benefit a children’s charity.  There are some excellent and intriguing marketers who are partaking in this project and should be a great read.

If you’d like to get your hands on the first edition of this great book, you can click here to order it.

Interested to see who is partaking?  Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Beeker Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy
, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

iPhone & Mobile

Andrew iPhoneI had dinner with one of my best friends and fellow entrepreneurs this evening.  He is one of the smartest guys on the planet  and I call him the mad scientist because of the way he views the world.  During the course of dinner, he opened my eyes into the “real” world of the iPhone – an area that I had never explored before because of my own ignorance.

For those of you who know me or have heard me talk about mobile marketing and such, I’m fairly bearish.  If we were in Europe or Asia, it would be a different story, but here in the USA, traditionally, it’s always been hard to pull off a mobile marketing campaign to a mass amount of people because of the current infrastructure that we utilize here.  It’s not to say that in the future, the infrastructure will change, but today…. it’s very tough.  Also, let me preface this by saying that quite a few brands are experimenting in the mobile space today and because of that, tons of startups are being funded… but I’m still bearish.  I’m also scared of penetrating one of the most personal devices… the mobile phone.  I know I don’t let people touch my phone and I only want information that I request on it.

Andrew showed me the world of iPhone apps and bookmarks.  Essentially, creating a bookmark on the iPhone screen that links right back to a webpage.  Genius.  I know this isn’t rocket science at all and I’m potentially one of the last people on Earth to find this out, but it just turned my prepackaged iPhone into a custom product….  my new computer.  Something else he showed was a Yelp application that tied directly into a database to find restaurants within a certain geographic location.  The restaurant tied into the Maps function on the iPhone to get immediate directions and it worked seamlessly.  The Internet tied into the Maps and it then tied into the Phone if you wanted to call the restaurant for reservations.

The future of mobile is that of leveraging the web from anywhere.  The iPhone won’t be the end all and be-all, but it will certainly pave the path for the future.  Mobile marketing isn’t as much as text messaging (spam?) or creating WAP sites, but rather tying a mobile component of your current content (as a product/service) and making it accessible via the new phones emerging such as the iPhone.

I’m starting to not be as bearish on mobile…

When the market fragments

When I want to download music, I really don’t care what label the band is on.  Honestly, most of the time, I don’t really know if it’s Universal or Sony BMG or Saddle Creek, etc.  iTunes is great because the majority (note, not all) of what I listen to is listed and available.  Sony BMG is now developing their own music service…. I’m calling it’s demise now.  Why?  Because it’s going to fragment the market and listeners have to worry about which labels their artists are signed to.  Yikes.

Looking Back: 1995 Newsweek Article on the Internet

A colleague here at The Media Kitchen just forwarded me a link to a Newsweek article written by Clifford Stoll from the February 27, 1995 issue. If you are in anyway attached to the technology/Internet/digital media world, you probably have read it… or should go back and read it. My colleague wanted me to verify that the article was real as it was so ridiculous. Sadly so, Clifford was waaaay off on his assumptions and it is real.

Here are some tidbits:

After two decades online, I’m perplexed. It’s not that I haven’t had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I’ve met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I’m uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community.Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems.

We may not have electronic town meetings, but our meeting recap is certainly online. The community that I live in (in Westchester) has it’s own social network. Yes, that’s right. Commerce and business has certainly shifted online… just look at Amazon, Zapatos, [amongst others] and all of the mortar stores that have digital counterparts. We believe in Amazon and it’s online presence so much, that we attribute$36 billion dollars to it’s company (marketcap). ShopBop, eLuxury, BlueNile, and such all have setup digital only presence but many traditional fashion retailers, as traditional as they are (Nordstrom, Neimans, etc) have all setup e-commerce sites.

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

I’ve said it time and time again… I rarely read the newspaper. My newspaper are my RSS feeds. While a teacher may not be replaced by a CD-Rom, look at University of Phoenix and Rosetta Stone. Learning through online platforms are powerful. And why can’t teachers exist on CD-Roms? Oh wait, I’ve not seen a CD-Rom in years! (other than music CDs)

Consider today’s online world. The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen.

The man’s still right. We may not be using Usenet any more… but there is a lot of clutter online. This is where proactive and predictive filtering comes in… we’re not quite there yet, but we’ve started to see what is coming down the pipeline. I mentioned RSS above… this is what I’d call filter 1.0. While it’s not a great content filter, it’s a great site/feed filter. I know some content filters exist, but I’m not too privvy to them and I’ve not heard anyone speak really highly about them. Feel free to educate me in the comments section about this. I’m actually shocked that 13 years after this article comes out, we’ve not come a long way in the filtering aspect… but I can see why… due to needing structured information (say hello to the semantic web). There are a few A-list bloggers who shout louder than everyone else… but all-in-all, if you asked the average person in upstate NY who Michael Arrington is, they’d probably not know.

How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

Need I say more? Amazon Kindle. Sony Reader. Even a NY Times article on the future of electronic books.

Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don’t know what to ignore and what’s worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them–one’s a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn’t work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, “Too many connectios, try again later.”

You know, in 1995, Clifford was right. It has certainly come a long way since. Before booking a trip, I go to to check out hotel reviews and information. Crowdsourced editing. We didn’t really have that back in 1995… but it’s here today. Look at or for reviews. Voila. Even my wife reviews restaurants over on HermanWeb. The content is now out there… the search engines, which are the new homepages btw (more on that in subsequent posts), determine which pages come up first… so if there are good reviews, they should come up higher because of people linking to them. As for the technical limitations of server requests… I think we’re pretty much over that by now… if your site is on Digg or TechCrunch, hopefully you can survive the massive traffic surge, but generally, most sites are experiencing majority of uptime. Before I leave the topic of reviews, I do believe the majority of current digital review systems are flawed – as a review is fairly subjective and if someone of a different demographic/HHI background reviews something, should their review equal your review? You need to compare apples from apples. There are some very smart people working on this right now…

These expensive toys are difficult to use in classrooms and require extensive teacher training. Sure, kids love videogames–but think of your own experience: can you recall even one educational filmstrip of decades past? I’ll bet you remember the two or three great teachers who made a difference in your life.

Every classroom since 3rd grade for me has had at least one computer. If computers in education wasn’t important, then OLPC (one laptop per child) wouldn’t exist… but wait, it’s hotter than ever.

Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete.

Point is made above. Also, add in Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak….

What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee. No interactive multimedia display comes close to the excitement of a live concert. And who’d prefer cybersex to the real thing?

Twitter. AOL IM. Gtalk. FriendFeed. FriendFinder. LavaLife. Jdate. Match. eHarmony. Facebook. MySpace. Bebo. ASW. AlwaysOn. You get it.

It’s amazing to look back into history. Someone is going to read this post 20 years from now and laugh at me. I can’t wait to read it.

Talent Agents in the Digital World

In the past, I’ve written about talent agents in many different capacities including music and video games.  Some music industry pundits would say that the most promising position to have in the upcoming years is on the “agent” side, and for the competitive video game space, major talent houses such as CAA & UTA are creating divisions to rep extremely talented gamers.

Steve Rubel blogs about three Internet Careers that Won’t Soon Exist and one of his three are digital talent agents.  Excerpted below:

Digital Talent Agents

During the AdAge Digital Conference last week, a Digital Agent with a major talent agency talked about how they have a group of people who crawl the web in search of undiscovered musicians, artists, etc. These agents then pair promising amateurs with Hollywood or branded entertainment projects. I last wrote about this three years ago. Then it was emerging business. Now, however, it is becoming the norm.

Rubel further makes the point that the digital talent agent will not exist in the future because there really is no difference between a digital agent and traditional (offline) agent.   Digital/traditional lines are blurring and there should be no seperation.  He raises an extremely good point here.

For the foreseeable future, digital talent agents aren’t going anywhere, IMHO.  There are too many people at the top of the pyramid that still do not understand the digital space and will want dedicated teams to oversee it.  Not everyone loves integration…. just look at the advertising world.

I sat through presentation recently by John Battelle as he spoke on behalf of Federated Media (his company).  After listening to him speak about the position of his company, I can see them as the next UTA or CAA… he’s got many of the top celebs of the digital world under representation agreements.  I’m not sure what his contracts state, but he’s able to help generate revenue on their behalf through integrated marketing opportunities.  I’d like to see him go beyond (or maybe it’s already done) the traditional marketing arrangements and do a “management” division and really step on the toes of the big guys.

The talent agency world is fascinating…

Online Ad Spending

Online Ad Spending

Here is what is interesting to me in the latest eMarketer report.

  • Search is declining after 2008.  Why?
  • Rich media/video is not one and the same.  Video is part of rich media but rich media is not solely video.  Display can also be rich media in my books…
  • Why does classified decrease?  Isn’t local all the rage?
  • If brand dollars are moving online, why are sponsorships declining?

Just some food for thought.