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Online Christmas Sales Surge – Shows The Power of Online Shopping

Christmas Tree Fireworks Lights Santa

Online Christmas Sales Surge – Shows The Power of Online Shopping

Dear Readers,

Long time, no speak! We wish all our readers and subscribers a very happy and festive holiday period.

December has been another epic sales period for retailers. Physical and online stores leveraged the ‘Black Friday’ marketing campaigns to provide an even more impressive showcase for shoppers this year.

Shoppers were treated to Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States) as well the normal run to Christmas Day. Marketeers were rushing to name every day leading up to Christmas as ‘super’ day. We saw ‘Super Saturday’, ‘Mega Monday’, ‘Last Minute Tuesday’ …

The continuing growth in online emphasises the strength of the e-commerce environment. More traffic should equal more online leads. It proves that selling products or services online is a maturing platform, albeit with growing competition from mature businesses.

Exciting times ahead. All the best in 2015!

Regards,

Spark N Launch

.

You might also enjoy:
+ Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Two Year Anniversary – Stop Crying

New Years 2014 Fire Works

The Spark n Launch Team celebrate with some backyard fireworks…

According to WordPress we just celebrated our two year anniversary – two years since we registered this account. Since our first blog post we have published over 100 articles and written another 100 draft posts. The site attracts traffic from around the world and continues to increase it’s readership. Thanks to all our loyal followers!

Unfortunately most of the traffic is spam bots, and the quality & frequency of our posts has diminished. Nevertheless we will try and keep up the web presence. If you’re interested in guest blogging or want some links shared, get in touch. Drop us a comment and share some love!

For those looking for some inspiration, check out some of our published posts below. Got a favourite post – tweet it!

(!)

In The Beginning:
Hello world! *
Starting a Blog – Don’t expect any Shakespeare
Working for the “Man” (Draft)

WordPress Links:
About
Social
Glossary *****
Tools
Table of Content (TOC) *****

Startups – Lists:
The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (2012) *****
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (25-50) *****

Startups – People:
Fabrice Grinda – Musings of a Serial Entrepreneur
Jason Calacanis talks to Alex Tew of Calm.com
The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Startups – Stories:
Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories *****
14 Year Old Girl: "Stop making excuses, make something awesome”
Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus *****
Samsung's Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
Lessons Learned – Be Your Own Boss *****

Startups – Lean:
The History of Lean Startup by Steve Blank *****
Startup Is Not The Same As A New Start Business
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in One Day
The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds Minimum Viable Product in Two Days?
Building Your Minimum ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP)

Startups – Weekends:
Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
Startup Weekend: What to Expect?
Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0) *****
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 1) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 2) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 3) (Draft)

Entrepreneur:
The Year of The Entrepreneur – It’s YOU again

Business Ideas / Business Planning:
How to go from Idea Guy to Execution Guy? ****
Evaluate Your Business Idea – Evaluating your spark
Business Plans – "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" (includes business plan template)
Starting Up – 9 Business Selection Criteria
Another Way To Plan – The Business Model v Business Plan *****
Step 1 – Where to Begin
How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken? *****
Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About ****

Customer Development:
Ghetto Testing the Viability of an Idea
A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups *****

People / Management:
Why Being a Deal Maker Matters To Your Team

Social Media / Blogging:
Twitter – Tweeting to your #audience
The Problem with Twitter – Social Disconnection by Stealth ****
Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

Social Media – Experiments:
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment #1
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
Technorati – Does the verification process work?
Technorati – Does the verification process work? (Yes it does!)
Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
Social Media Experiment – How we made it onto the BBC!

Brand / Marketing:
Picking a name – The importance of brand
Affiliate Marketing 101
Lessons Learned From 10,000 Page Views ****
Online Advertising Experiment with Google AdWords
Happy V Day – Seasonal Opportunities
The Zoo Project – A Fantastic Marketing Opportunity
Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty

Traffic / SEO:
How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News? (4 Links in 1 Day) ****
Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike ****

Design:
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral ****

Toolkit:
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs – Q&As
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs
Creating Your Very Best Startup Business Logo ****
Podcasts – Hearing and Learning From Others
Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers
New Startup Lingo – More Buzzwords
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #2
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
Need Startup Advice? – Just Ask Online

Funding:
Crowdsurfing: Alternatives to Kickstarter
Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes ***
Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
Startup Funding: I’m 15 With An Amazing Product Idea
Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available In Europe
Raising Money (Draft)
Working Full Time and Bootstrapping Your Business Startup (Draft)

Web:
Web Stats – Who is top of the league table? ***

Rants / Musings:
Why is everything broken? (Draft)
Getting Real – It’s a project, not a startup (Draft)
Web Two is awesome – Web 2.0 changes our surfing experience
The Public Image of Business People (Footballers versus Bankers)
To Code or Not To Code

Messages:
100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Be the First to Like Us on Facebook
Who Are We? About Us Page Updated in FAQ Format
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)
Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts
New Month, New Look – What Do You Think?
Blog Milestone – 30th Post – What it means? (Mostly nothing)
Project Mackerel – Please Sir… Complete our quick survey?
Upcoming Posts – Please Vote
Project Mackerel – Sneek Peek of Prototype

Weird / Unclassified:
It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11
Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
Random Generated Startup – Life gets easier (again)
Get hired with the help of your friend, Mark Zuckerberg?
The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)
Technology – Is a black pixel on or off? ****
Leap Year – 3 interesting facts about 29 February
April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
How the $16bn Facebook IPO looks like in cash (Image) **

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

This Site Gets More Hits than You

Cute Cute Little Cat

Cute Cute Little Cat

Reddit, the supposed frontpage of the Internet drags in a massive amount of traffic. It records, approximately:

+ 15 million unique visits per month
+ 50 – 100 thousand unique visits per hour
+ 150 million pageviews by month
+ 100 – 250 thousand pageviews by month
+ 5 million pageviews by day
+ 8 thousand subscriptions by day

It’s ranked 27th in the US and 69th in the world by Alexa!

The numbers are amazing and explains why Reddit has become such a popular place for visitors, including spammers. While the community is quite harsh on spam, there are various places where you can advertise legitimately. A successful post could drive millions of visitors to your site. Scary!

So next time you see a cute cat picture. It is likely it originated from Reddit! *meow*

Image Credit: Desktop HD Wallpapers

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You might also enjoy:
+ Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes
+ Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (25-50)

In 2012 we captured a list of the top 100 startups, curated by startups.co.uk. At the time we didn’t published this post. However looking at the list today, it is interesting to see how the sites have progressed (or disappeared).

In 2012 we posted the top 100 startups.

Startups.co.uk revealed their top 100 startups of 2012. The list demonstrates “the most exciting, creative and disruptive new businesses in the UK today”.

According to the site:

“Launched in 2008, the Startups 100 was the first and bar-setting countdown of the top 100 start-ups in the country. It’s now our flagship feature, published every two years (you can check out our 2010 Startups 100 list here) and previous winners have gone on to phenomenal successes.

Huddle, Shortlist Media, Naked Wines, Wonga and Zoopla are just a few of our alumni, and we have equally high hopes for the companies on our latest list.”

Congratulations to all those that were named. This is a tremendous showcase of British business talent and innovation. The list of alumni members proves that this year’s businesses have a real chance of extending their start-up success.

You can view the full list here or check out the 25 to 50 below.

If you made the list or are a new startup, please get in touch! We would love to learn more and even run a feature on your business.

Startups 20 to 50 (of 100):

26. 3 Blonde Bears – The fast-growth brand making personalised homeware, toys and gifts – all in the UK. (Read More)
27. Secret Escapes – A members-only flash sales travel site, offering big discounts on luxury holidays and hotels. (Read More)
28. Funding Circle – The fast-growing peer-to-peer lender, enabling entrepreneurs to bypass the banks. (Read More)
29. WhipCar – The world’s largest peer-to-peer car club, creating a community culture in car-sharing. (Read More)
30. Duedil – Providing free information on companies and directors, helping users vet potential business partners. (Read More)
31. EDITD – The scientific, sartorial start-up keeping retailers informed on fashion hits and misses. (Read More)
32. Bubbleology – A quirky chain of London cafes, bringing Brits a taste of tapioca-based, Taiwanese tea. (Read More)
33. Smarkets – The low-cost betting exchange empowering users to participate in (and profit from) politics and sport. (Read More)
34. Fantasy Shopper – Social gaming meets e-commerce, to create a fast-growth fan base of Facebook shopaholics. (Read More)
35. Peppersmith – The charismatic confectionery brand shaking up the mint market with every little box. (Read More)
36. Casabu – The fast-growth flash sales site for mums – forecasting a seven-figure turnover in its first year. (Read More)
37. 99p Shopper – The first comparison engine for the wholesale sector, helping small firms get the best deal. (Read More)
38. Artfinder – The innovative online resource bring artwork to the digital generation. (Read More)
39. FusePump – Data feed management that simplifies affiliate marketing. (Read More)
40. GoCardless – An innovative, low-cost way for small businesses to accept direct payments. (Read More)
41. Floxx Media Group – The company that evolved from student ‘flirting’ site FitFinder to become a grown-up web and app development firm. (Read More)
42. Blue Dot – A new digital currency used to reward, recognise and incentivise people who do good. (Read More)
43. MBA & Company – The marketplace helping companies outsource research projects, to the top 1% of freelance talent worldwide. (Read More)
44. Gloople – A multi-channel e-commerce platform, enabling small firms to take advantage of social commerce. (Read More)
45. Coco di Mama – The restaurant bringing authentic Italian cuisine to busy City workers. (Read More)
46. Escapethecity – A website that helps professionals to find exciting new opportunities – leaving unfulfilling, corporate roles behind. (Read More)
47. PayAsUGym.com – A business allowing gym users to use gyms in a way that suits their lifestyle. (Read More)
48. Veritas Language Group – A Swansea-based translation firm working to remove the language barrier between companies and their international customers and colleagues. (Read More)
49. BagThat – A new take on the online deals model, allowing users to collaborate to drive prices down. (Read More)
50. Pockit – The pioneering pre-paid card which helps purse-pinched consumers save and manage money. (Read More)

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Analysis – Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available in Europe

Good News for Crowd Funding and Startup Financing

In November 2012 we published an article titled “Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available in Europe“. The post described Kickstarter, the well known crowd funding platform, entering the UK market.

In October 2012 Kickstarter opened it’s doors to projects in the UK. This was a remarkable event as at the time, as crowd funding was just coming into the forefront for entrepreneurs to gain financing (in the shadows of a depressed economy). This was fantastic news Kickstarter is available to projects in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Something Strange

The strange part was that this one post has attracted the highest volume of traffic, almost 5,000 views since it was published. And we don’t know why?!

The bulk of site visitors are from the US, then way back are UK visitors.

On keywords, it does seem that the combination of “kickstarter” and “europe” are popular:

kickstarter europe (434)
kickstarter in europe (53)
kickstarter for europe (5)
european kickstarter (15)
kickstarter from europe (13)
kick starter europe (12)
kickstarter europe alternative (12)

One thought may be that very few articles write about Kickstarter in Europe. Rather they write about “Kickstarter in the UK”. Hence our post has scored a high Google page rank and we can maintain this traffic (for now).

SEO

We guess we will leave this for the SEO experts to analyse. For now, thanks for visiting our site!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes
+ Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

one_hundred_blog_posts_blogging_100

100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

This message marks our 100th post. It has taken over 12 months to publish 100 posts. It’s been a tough and interesting journey in the blogosphere…

Lessons Learned

What have we learned? Blogging is hard work!

+ Writing is hard
+ Building interest is hard
+ Gaining focus is hard
+ Avoiding distractions is hard
+ Getting traffic is hard
+ Getting meaningful traffic is even harder
+ Choosing what tools, platforms and techniques to use is difficult
+ Maintaining momentum is hard

In summary, if you want to start blogging – make sure you write about something that interests you and focus on the writing.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Your Holiday is Now Over

head_in_hands_disappointment_sadness

Your Holiday is Now Over

You spent the last couple of weeks frolicking in joy and laziness. You got into a habit of waking up after midday. Well sadly the holiday is officially over. For most, you are forced to resume your daily commute to your office cubicle. You can now begin the 365 day countdown to the next summer holiday break.

On the Plus Side

The good news is that you can get back to pursuing your dreams. New years is often the time for reflection and goal setting. January is time to start pursuing your new year’s resolutions. Those goals we set ourself that are often forgotten by January 31st.

Goal Setting

Let’s make 2013 different! Let’s write down some goals/resolutions and aim to fulfil them. Let’s prove those sceptics wrong and show them that new year’s resolutions can be met and even exceeded.

Step 1

According to the experts, you should try the following:

+ Decide what you want.
+ Start small, but keep walking.
+ Be positive when stating your goals.
+ Don’t underestimate yourself.
+ Write it down.
+ Affirm it.
+ Stop procrastinating.
+ Habituate yourself to liking the challenges.
+ Review your progress.

The focus is setting realistic and positive goals that you can monitor. Writing them down and sticking them on your wall can be a massive motivator. It can also prompt visitors to press you on your progress.

Our Goals

In 2013:

+ We want to write better posts by being better story tellers.
+ We want to build more things by stop making excuses for not building things.
+ We want to learn more from others by talking more to others.

What are your goals?

Drop us a line, leave is a comment. Share the love. Good luck in 2013!

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About

Startups for the Rest of Us

Mike Taber and Rob Walling record an awesome regular podcast called “Startups for the Rest of Us“. It’s aimed at helping developers, designers and entrepreneurs launch their startup product. They have just hit their 100th episode and you can check out older recordings or episode transcripts on their website.

In episode 98 they share “eight sentiments that do not bode well for your startup”.

The Eight Sentiments

1. “This product idea is awesome. Now off to the basement to build it; see you in 6 months!”

2. “I haven’t even finished the features I want to build yet and potential customers are already asking me to build X.” Translation: “I’m sticking to my product idea no matter what my potential customers tell me.”

3. “I’m halfway done with this idea… but that shiny new one over there seems so much better.”

4. “I plan to quite my job 60 days after I launch.”

5. “It would take me as much time to explain this task to someone else, so I’ll just do it myself.”

6. “I don’t want to bother with all that click through and conversion rate nonsense…I’ll just build a great product.” Translation: “Build a better mousetrap is not a good strategy”

7. “My idea is pretty hard to explain, do you have 20 minutes to spare?”

8. “I don’t want to talk publicly about my idea because someone might steal it.”

Summary

These are excellent points. The message is do not keep your idea a secret. Speak to people, especially customers and listen and apply their feedback. You need to be able to articulate your idea clearly and be open to suggestions. Do not build and ship in isolation!

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Lessons Learned From 10,000 Page Views

tl;dr We looked back on our last 10,000 page views. We found: 1) Traffic spikes help, 2) Being unloved hurts, 3) Google search Rocks, 4) Social media sux, 5) Google images draws in questionable traffic, 6) Low click rates hurt, 7) Spam is out of control, 8) More bots than humans visit the site.

Introduction

There is the old adage of the past best is the best predictor of future. Some say we just have to look back in the past to forecast our likely future. With this in mind we decided to look back on our last 10,000 blog views (page views). Hopefully the future is going to be brighter than the past…

We took figures from our standard WordPress Dashboard. The numbers represent the count of “views” and are not unique. In most cases we have only provided a cut of the top figures rather than the full list (due to the very long tail of results).

Lessons Learned

The results are hardly impressive or surprising.

1. Traffic Spikes Help

The odd news spike from news aggregator sites managed to haul in a large amount of short term activity. Activity quickly diminished but spikes did keep post links alive in social media sites (eg Twitter, Facebook) and news readers (eg Google Reader).

2. Being Unloved Hurts

Articles that never had the fortune of gaining large attention remain unloved.

3. Google Search Rocks

While many preach the power of social media, the bulk of referral traffic has come from Google. Yahoo and Bing are well behind.

4. Social Media Sux

Our experience with social media is extremely poor. Hardly any activity turns into visits. A Facebook Like, a Twitter Tweet and Google +1 are meaningless in converting into visits.

5. The Power of (Google) Images

Oddly Google Images yield the bulk of Google traffic (636 of 921 Google Search Engine views). It is questionable the value of this traffic.

6. Low Click Rate

It is rare that a visitor clicks on any/many links. We are not worried about external links however concerned about the low internal click rate. We added a standard footer to all our posts a few months ago that has made some improvement.

7. Spam Is Out of Control

Traffic is on the decline but spam is out of control (increasing from 7 to 777 per month).

8. Too Many Spam Bots

The large amount of spam may well be automated (ie sent by a bot) rather than by a human.

Summary

It feels as web traffic is much like catching waves in the ocean. Catch a good wave and you can ride it into shore. Catch no wave and you’re left floundering with the (spam) sharks.

The numbers are posted below. Get in touch if you have anything to add.

Happy swimming!

The Numbers

Top 10 Posts

The following summarises the top 10 posts by number of post views.

Views / Post
3402 Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
1404 Home page / Archives
1314 How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News?
285 Glossary
240 Learning From Other Startups
234 KISS – Ugly Websites That Went Viral
212 The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #2
205 The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds MVP?
204 The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)
190 How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken?

Comments:
– One Hacker News submission sent 2,958 visitors to our blog in one single day (Described here).

Top 10 Referrers

The following summarises the top 10 referrers by number of post views.

Views / Referrer
2988 Hacker News
921 Search Engines
462 hackful.com
358 Twitter
342 Google Reader
179 StumbleUpon
126 quora.com
101 Facebook
93 bbc.co.uk
63 WordPress Dashboard

(Note: Added 146 to hacker news for HN aggregators)

Comments:
– Community sites have helped draw majority of traffic.
– Popular posts often get captured by Google Reader and Twitter, growing interest for a short term period then quickly dying off.

Top 5 Search Engines

The following summarises the top 5 referrer search engines by number of post views.

Views / Search Engine
921 Google Search
636 Google Image Search
11 Ask.com
7 Bing
4 Yahoo Search

Comments:
– Large amount of traffic from image search. Bulk with Google.
– Using Adwords and Facebook however minimal spend.
– WordPress Dashboard may be self clicks.

Top 10 Countries

The following summarises the top 10 visitor countries by number of post views.

Views / Country
4308 United States
1572 United Kingdom
464 Canada
377 India
299 Germany
254 Australia
163 France
151 Brazil
131 Netherlands
118 Sweden

Comments:
– In total there have been visitors from over 106 countries.

Top Search Terms

The following summarises the top search terms by number of post views.

– startup glossary, startup dictionary, buzzwords, biz buzzwords
– minimum viable product, mvp, pivot
– business guru, business gurus, biz advice, startup advice, how to launch
– new startups, top uk startups, top 100 startups, best startups
– hackers, hacker news
– startup podcasts, startup tools
– startup funding, business finance, crowdfunding

Comments:
– Hundreds of variations however mainly focused on “startups” and “business”.

Top 10 Clicks

The following summarises the top 10 visitor clicks by number of post views.

Clicks / URL
167 quora.com
87 Hacker News
85 kickstarter.com
82 startups.co.uk
70 sparknlaunch.files.wordpress.com
39 techzinglive.com
26 bbc.co.uk
25 Twitter
23 Reddit

Internal:
67 sparknlaunch.files.wordpress.com/ (Images)
3 sparknlaunch.files.wordpress.com/ (Files)

Comments:
– Very low internal click rate.
– Bulk of clicks appear to be on images. May suggest users behaviour or other sites recycling images.
– Poor reflection on the ability of site to retain visitors.

Top Comments

The following summarises the number of comments.

Comments / Category
1590 spam
396 ham
2 missed spam
4 false positives
95 Comments

Comments:
– Spam is the unwanted commercial comments.
– Ham are legitimate comments.
– The high amount of spam comments hints that bulk of visitors to the blog are just spammers or spammer bots.

Comments Per Month

The following summarises the number of spam comments by month.

Comments / Month
7 Feb
36 Mar
101 Apr
172 May
160 Jun
541 Jul
777 Aug

Comments:
– Strangely traffic has gone down but spam comments have gone up.
– February caught 7 comments versus 777 in August!

Image Credit: VistaPrint

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken?

The Mystery of Achieving Exponential Growth

tl;dr This post looks at how startups gain their initial traction. By studying previous successful startups (like Quora, Mint, Airbnb, Twitter, Facebook, Groupon) we realise that clever mass marketing techniques; and targeting niche markets are the real reason many grew so quickly. Going viral is harder than it looks.

The Problem With Your Startup

You’ve thought of the great idea, conducted various forms of customer validation, recruited your technical co-founder, pivoted twice and finally launched your Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Awesome! You are on the verge of making the headlines and dollars. You and your co-founder stare at the web analytics screen waiting for lift off… Something must be broken. You check your Internet connection and click refresh. You ask yourselves why no one is visiting your site? Why is no one buying our product?

The common question of gaining initiation traction is challenging one. Challenging because it fundamentally questions your business model. Going live or launching is the ultimate validation test. Did we build the right thing? Does anyone want our product?

Marketers are quick to advise you to “improve your SEO”, “interact on key social media” or “buy adwords”. Consultants will tell you to “revisit your business model” or “redraw your lean canvas”. While you appreciate their helpfulness, this advice doesn’t always translate to your business case or doesn’t actually work in reality.

How To Get Traction?

When in doubt, look back in time. While not the most reliable tool (history), it may well help you make your next intelligent step forward. Or it just proves that the big names of today faced a similar uphill battle.

Quora has endless questions on gaining traction. Enough to justify the section titled: How Did X Get Traction? Here is a selection of some of our favourite initial traction startup stories.

1. How did Quora get its initial traction?

Adam D’Angelo (Quora Founder) puts it simply: “We invited our friends, and some of them invited their friends, etc.” However this was back in 2010 and the site has evolved dramatically since then. A common thread for many startups is encouraging content creation. Sites that can encourage users to create content retains existing users and attracts new users.

2. How did Mint get initial traction?

Mint insiders go into detail of how they built their user base. Apart from having a great brand that solved a real problem, they leveraged a strong PR and marketing strategy that reaped high quality traffic.

A sweet domain name also helps, but usually comes at a price. Mint supposedly paid $2 million for the four letter address.

3. How did Airbnb get initial traction?

Solve a problem with a crazy idea. In 2007 San Francisco hotels were booked out. The buddying entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to rent out their floor space by throwing an “air” mattress. The concept blew up.

Dave Gooden suggests a rather more sinister approach to gaining traction. He describes a sophisticated mailing campaign via Craiglist.

4. How did LinkedIn get its initial traction?

Lee Hower (LinkedIn Founding Team) boasts impressive growth in users. Within 12 months they claimed 500,000 users!

We are doubtful of good luck and timing however… some claim the uniqueness of their product at that time explained the success.

Others suggest clever news article placements in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine helped gain attention.

5. How did plentyoffish get its initial traction?

A decade ago dating websites became the ultimate place to find your next partner. Many competitors appeared but Plenty of Fish remained in top spot.

The reason behind this success is likely to be Markus Frind’s (founder) smart approach to SEO and Google AdSense. His blog post describes the sites exponential growth.

6. How did Facebook gain its initial traction?

We’ve all followed the news stories and seen the film (“The Social Network“). Was it really down to the determination of one computer programming genius?

The early traction appears to have come collecting e-mail addresses of schools and students. The Facebook leveraged the network effect of well connected groups to gain traction.

They offered an attractive option for networks of schools and students to stay connected. As these networks already existed, they simply moved this targeted niche from older and isolated networks to the newer platform.

7. How did StumbleUpon gain its initial traction?

According to Brad O’Neill (First Angel Investor and Advisor) Stumbleupon was one of the very first add-ons to the Firefox browser. This early relationship helped Stumbleupon grow a significant userbase, as the functionality was integrated into their browsing.

Stumbleupon was one of five or six product ideas the original founders had considered.

8. How did Twitter get initial traction?

The tipping point for Twitter appears to be its showcase at the 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Twitter displayed festival goers messages on large screens around the event.

However before this time, it is likely that the early adopters and a large network of bloggers did their part to spread the word.

9. How did Foursquare get initial traction?

One view is that a launch at 2009 South by Southwest (SXSW) kicked off their growth. Another view is that a city-by-city approach expanded as new users were added. By pushing growth in cities, a combination of city level growth and national growth promoted adoption.

However was it their prior experience with location based technology that triggered their real growth? Dennis Crowley (Founder) several years earlier had developed and sold a similar concept to Google (now Google Latitude).

10. How did Groupon get initial traction?

Groupon began life as the ThePoint, a community campaign site. It was only several iterations later that a simple experiment for pizza coupons on a WordPress blog validated their coupon based model. Or was it?

Andrew Chen suggests a more sinister strategy of realising a “temporary arbitrage in buying tons of demographically targeted ad inventory”. Groupon essentially leveraged a low cost of customer acquisition by buying up massive subscriber lists and then targeting them with marketing messages. The cost of acquisition quickly rose but by then Groupon had a large enough pool of customers.

Conclusions

It appears plenty of mystery exists around gaining early traction. However based on the above analysis, these top tips may help you gain your early traction:

+ Encourage content creation
+ Get a sweet four letter domain name
+ Build a sophisticated mailing campaign
+ Get published in a newspaper article read by your target market
+ Get the most out of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
+ Utilise the network effect
+ Be the first and be integrated into a daily tool (eg be that button on the top of every web browser)
+ Use early adopters and bloggers to promote your brand
+ Leverage prior experience (and networks)
+ Find a low cost of customer acquisition before others do

If you wish to share your own experiences drop us a line or leave a comment or join the Hacker News discussion.

Image Credit: Let A Thousand Nations

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You might also enjoy:
+ Need Startup Advice? – Just Ask Online
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed

Startups.co.uk has recently revealed their top 100 startups of 2012. The lists demonstrates “the most exciting, creative and disruptive new businesses in the UK today”.

According to the site:

“Launched in 2008, the Startups 100 was the first and bar-setting countdown of the top 100 start-ups in the country. It’s now our flagship feature, published every two years (you can check out our 2010 Startups 100 list here) and previous winners have gone on to phenomenal successes.

Huddle, Shortlist Media, Naked Wines, Wonga and Zoopla are just a few of our alumni, and we have equally high hopes for the companies on our latest list.”

Congratulations to all those that were named. This is a tremendous showcase of British business talent and innovation. The list of alumni members proves that this year’s businesses have a real chance of extending their start-up success.

You can view the full list here or check out the top 25 below.

If you made the list or are a new startup, please get in touch! We would love to learn more and even run a feature on your business.

Top 25 (of 100):

1. Shutl – The start-up solving e-commerce’s greatest problem, giving customers greater control over deliveries. (Read More)
2. Fetch Media – The mobile marketing and advertising agency serving global clients, both sides of the pond. (Read More)
3. MVF Global – The fast-growth online marketing business looking differently at lead generation. (Read More)
4. Hailo – The city-centric app which lets you book a licensed cab – in just two taps. (Read More)
5. Stylistpick – A subscription-based fashion site, selling shoes and accessories hand-picked by top stylists. (Read More)
6. MediaDevil – The five-star mobile accessory brand outstripping its competitors with customer service. (Read More)
7. Stylus – The design inspiration service with a £142m entrepreneur at its helm. (Read More)
8. Onefinestay – Authentic accommodation for the jet set – rent a real, luxury home, with all the trimmings of a hotel. (Read More)
9. Bear – The brand shaking up the snack market with a range of guilt-free, fruit treats. (Read More)
10. Neon Play – The mobile app developer making smartphones even more addictive. (Read More)
11. Crowdcube – The pioneer of equity-based crowdfunding, stamping a new path in alternative finance. (Read More)
12. Transferwise – A cheaper way to transfer money overseas, backed by top venture capital firms and the co-founder of PayPal. (Read More)
13. myParcelDelivery.com – The comparison website for courier services putting an end to the pain of post office queuing. (Read More)
14. zeebox – Hoping to change the way we watch television is free app Zeebox, the self-styled ‘TV sidekick’. (Read More)
15. Conversocial – Helping companies interact with their customers through Facebook and Twitter. (Read More)
16. Crane.tv – The ‘digital storytelling company’, comprising an online video magazine and full-service entertainment agency. (Read More)
17. The Giving Card – The discount card which saves you money while raising revenue for charities. (Read More)
18. MarketInvoice – The online platform where small businesses can auction their unpaid invoices to global investors. (Read More)
19. Blippar – An innovative mobile application, which unlocks cool digital content from images. (Read More)
20. Blottr – The people-powered news service breaking stories quicker via mobile and web. (Read More)
21. Adzuna – The pioneering search engine bringing millions of classifieds together in one place. (Read More)
22. Brainient – The company making video advertising more effective – tapping into a potentially huge market. (Read More)
23. BBOXX – Providing the world’s poorest with access to affordable electricity. (Read More)
24. Seven Hills – The pioneering PR firm putting British entrepreneurship on the map. (Read More)
25. Central Working – The city workhubs helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. (Read More)

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes

Update: Ouya raised $8,596,475 from 63,416 backers. Read more about Ouya and crowdfunding here.

Kickstarter is the well known crowd funding website for creative projects. Kickstarter has funded a diverse array of endeavours, ranging from indie films, music and comics to journalism, video games, and food-related projects.

They have gained attention from the growing popularity in crowd funding and the rapid pace at which participants raise money.

From the Kickstarter blog: Yesterday a video game project called Ouya became the eighth project in Kickstarter history to raise more than a million dollars, and the fastest ever to do so.

This is absolutely incredible and shows a lucrative opportunity for startups seeking funding. There are numerous resources online that provide a guide to crowd funding.

Ouya are not the only team to raise more than a million dollars. Here are the top eight by speed:

  1. OUYA — 8 hours and 22 minutes
  2. Double Fine Adventure — 17 hours and 30 minutes
  3. Pebble — 27 hours
  4. Wasteland 2 — 41 hours
  5. Shadowrun Returns — 7 days
  6. The Order of the Stick — 27 days, 5 hours
  7. Amanda Palmer — 27 days, 12 hours
  8. Elevation Dock — 57 days

And here are the top ten by dollars received in 24 hours:

  1. OUYA — $2,589,687.77
  2. Double Fine Adventure — $1,064,652.05
  3. Pebble — $863,132.92
  4. Wasteland 2 — $555,407.84
  5. Shadowrun Returns — $378,008.28
  6. Amanda Palmer — $223,348.50
  7. The Icarus Deception — $178,194.00
  8. Elevation Dock — $161,507.00
  9. Penny Arcade Sells Out — $151,221.17
  10. gTar — $138,891.00

If you wish to share your own experiences drop us a line or leave a comment or join the Hacker News discussion.

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

There is an endless supply of information available for entrepreneurs. However reading articles and attending events can get tiresome. Podcasts offer an easy and relaxing way to listen and learn from others in your own time.

We have listed some of our favourite below. There are quite a few to choose from, so you may want to pick out the episodes that best suit your interest.

You may also be interested in learning how to create your own podcast.

1. Techzing Tech Podcast – TechZing is an informal chat show hosted by Justin Vincent and Jason Roberts. They release two shows per week discussing there own tech startup experiences and general ‘Hacker News’ type stories.

2. The Startup Success Podcast – Hosted by Bob Walsh and Patrick Foley. Bob is a consultant, microISV, author, BOS forum moderator and blogger. Patrick is an ISV Architect Evangelist with Microsoft.

3. Startups for the Rest of Us – Hosts Mike Taber and Rob Walling apply their 20 years of experience as software entrepreneurs and share those experiences to help listeners avoid the same mistakes they have made.

4. A Smart Bear – Advice from Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine and Smart Bear Software.

5. Lean Blog Started in 2005 to host news, commentary, and discussion about “Lean” – the methodology and management system based on the Toyota Production System. Includes some good interviews with top Lean experts, such as Eric Ries (#115, #142).

6. Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner – The university offers over 2,000 free videos and podcasts featuring entrepreneurship and innovation thought leaders.

7. HBR Ideacast – The Harvard Business Review produces a weekly audio podcast, bringing listeners the analysis and advice of the leading minds in management.

8. Mixergy – The Mixergy Mission is to “introduce listeners to doers and thinkers whose ideas and stories are so powerful that just hearing them will change you”. Bold and informative.

9. This Week In Startups (TWiST)Jason Calacanis hosts a fun and lively weekly podcast and video series focused on tech startups.

10. Venture Voice – A podcast that explores how entrepreneurs build their businesses and live their lives.

11. Foundation by Kevin Rose – Revision3 has emerged as the leading special interest video network, and has attracted top Internet video talent, advertisers and distribution partners.

12. Founders Talk – Founders Talk Founders Talk is an interview podcast all about awesome, in-depth, one on one conversations with Founders. Tune in for a new show every Thursday!

13. Techcrunch Founder StoriesTechCrunch is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.

14. The Frank Peters Show – Interviews to help entrepreneurs learn what worked for those who were successful. “If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll learn what makes early-stage investing attractive to angels. If you’re an angel, hopefully you’ll learn how not to lose your shirt.”

15. Freakonomics – Listen to economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (co-authors of best selling book, Freakonomics) talk about about cheating teachers, bizarre baby names, self-dealing Realtors, and crack-selling mama’s boys.

Image Credit: Techyuva

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You might also enjoy:
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups
+ Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
+ Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?

The Startup Weekend Series: This entry is part of a series of blog posts about attending a startup weekend event. These posts will help those people who have never attended a weekend hackathon or those wishing to maximise their experiences.

As startup communities continue to grow, so do the frequency and popularity of hackathons and startup weekends.

Various profit and not-for-profit groups have flooded this space offering startup weekends around the world.

Google and The Kauffman Foundation have got behind the “Startup Weekend” brand offering an open source approach to helping people get involved. So far they have held many successful events including London Startup Weekend, Seattle Startup Weekend, Barcelona Startup Weekend plus cities further abroad like Amman and Tunis … the list goes.

The events attract a mixture of experienced, inexperienced, technical and non technical enthusiastic participates to compete over a weekend (usually 54 hours) to build and present the best ‘next big thing’.

So, what can one expect? How does one prepare? Should I attend?

Over the next few weeks we plan to compile some hints, tips and general info that will hopefully help out the next wave of participants.

If you have any resources to share or your own experiences, please drop us a line.

To wet your palette here are some articles on startups weekends, pitching advice, and podcast on what to expect:

1. Startup Weekend FAQ – A set of helpful question and answers.
2. Pitching advice for Startup Weekend – Simple and effective tips for preparing your pitch.
3. Podcast with the CEO of Startup Weekend – An insight of the Startup Weekend events and organisation.

More Startup Articles

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

Business Guru Advice For Startups

Being a guru is a real balancing act…

Waqas Ali, a Pakistani based startup entrepreneur made the new years resolution not be fooled by bad advice. He pledged:

“…I shall not be fooled again by gurus…”

It got us thinking about the massive volume of startup guidance and advice being published and preached. How much can be relied on? How much can be applied to your startup?

The usefulness and accuracy of advice varies greatly. One size does not fit all. What worked for one business may not work at all for another. Another problem is that bad or misleading guidance may lead you down the wrong track and waste your time and efforts.

We certainly praise those that share their experiences and enjoy the open discussion. However one must be aware of the dangers of taking advice that is not tailored specifically to your circumstances. Ultimately careful judgement is required to pick out and implement the best and most applicable advice for your own startup. Ensure any advice can be actioned and be measured.

Below is a sampling of commonly shared cliched startup advice, inspired by the Quora question: What popular startup advice is plain wrong? How many of the above do you full/partially agree of disagree with? Do you have some more quotes to add to the list? Leave us a comment below.

On Motivation:
+ Don’t give up too easily
+ Never give up
+ Be Careful
+ Take the plunge
+ Quit your day job and throw everything you have into it
+ All you need is passion
+ Do what you love, the money will follow

On Success:
+ You need to fail first before you succeed
+ Some startups are successful after long periods of failure
+ They were lucky by being in the right place, at the right time

On Being an Entrepreneur:
+ Being an entrepreneur gives you freedom, free from the constraints of working for others
+ You have to be in silicon valley
+ Join an accelerator/incubator/academy
+ You do/don’t need a qualification

On Advice:
+ Ignore all startup advice
+ Follow all startup advice
+ Don’t blindly believe another successful entrepreneur
+ Advice from the more technical team members is going to be technically biased
+ Advice from consultants is going to be focused on consultant deliverables rather than real deliverables

On Business Development:
+ Build it and they will come
+ It’s already been done
+ It’s impossible to compete with Microsoft, Google, Facebook…
+ Be first
+ Don’t worry about learning the ‘business’ side of things because you can bring on a partner to handle that
+ Start business development as soon as possible
+ You don’t need a business plan
+ Do your homework and make sure that the problem you think you’re fixing really exists

On Technology:
+ You need a technical co-founder
+ You need to know how to code
+ You can’t outsource the product
+ Do/don’t outsource
+ Keep technology and business separate

On Launching:
+ Just setup a landing page and collect emails
+ Launching is an event
+ Iterate rapidly and don’t worry about scaling

On Funding:
+ Startups have to raise venture capital in order to succeed
+ Your time (sweat equity) doesn’t have any value
+ Do not raise funding as great businesses are all about bootstrapping
+ Venture Capitalists have an interest in big exits and therefore will mislead you
+ Take lots of debt now

On Revenue:
+ You don’t need revenue
+ Go ‘freemium’

On Lean:
+ Lean startup means keeping costs low
+ Lean startups change their business plan every five minutes
+ The first thing to validate is your solution
+ Lean startups are internet Startups
+ Quality is not important in a Lean startup
+ First build a Minimal Viable Product

Links:
Hacker News Discussion
More Startup Posts

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

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