Tag Archive | competition

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.

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Social Media Experiment – How we made it onto the BBC!

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The Spark ‘n’ Launch blog are very proud to have been mentioned on the BBC website. While we didn’t make frontpage news, we did feature on The Apprentice TV series sub-site.

Our story – The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds Minimum Viable Product in Two Days? – crept onto the programme’s page.

The Apprentice blog post is our second highest ranking submission. Mostly due to the referral traffic from the BBC.

The BBC network have employed BBC Buzz, a “tool that finds where on blogs, Twitter and other online communities people are discussing BBC programmes, and presents links to them on the relevant programme page.”

Links are collected via “a service which automatically trawls over 125 million blogs every few hours, and filters out any spam or inappropriate content.”

The BBC Buzz is currently our fourth biggest referral and is a pretty powerful example of how companies are using trawlers to bring relevant social media content to their sites. While the visitors may not all be interested in all the content, it has proven our most effective tool in directing visitors to our blog.

As always, we will continue to share the progress of our experimentation with social media. Stay tuned!

Our Social Media Experiment (titled “Project Trout”) measures the effectiveness of various online promotion methods. You can read more in previous postings:
Update #1
Update #2
Update #2

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You might also enjoy:
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ 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.

Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2

Project Trout continues measuring the effectiveness of various online promotion methods as mentioned in earlier posts (Social Media Experiment #1).

The results from the last few weeks are disappointing. Especially the ineffectiveness of Twitter in driving traffic.

Updated findings:

+ Online interactions don’t always equate to anything of value.

The experts advise you to interact with other blogs and online mediums. This may constitute following another blog or leaving a friendly comment. The few interactions that gather a response back typically result in limited or no value (eg link back to your blog).

+ Efforts for attention still result in zero effect.

Promoting yourself on social media sites means competing against millions of others, even in your chosen niche. Breaking out and getting noticed is tough. Getting noticed by the right audience is even tougher.

+ Activity on Twitter doesn’t necessary drive traffic to your blog.

In an effort to interact and thank our faithful Twitter followers we sent direct messages to new joiners (including a link to our blog). We even tweeted our thanks publicly (mentioning new joiners). In the first week drove 1% of followers to our blog. This conversion rate feels awfully low, especially for those who have made the effort to ‘click’ follow.

+ Traffic doesn’t necessary equal value.

The ‘Leap Year – 3 interesting facts about 29 February‘ post gained significant interest from StumbleUpon. The problem with StumbleUpon is that users ‘stumble’ through website and therefore do not stay long on your site and do not visit other parts. This makes their visit meaningless in terms of value. (Example).

We have summarised the activities below. We hope our planned activities and patience will pay off.

Week 7:
Current focus is Twitter and WordPress blog. Google Plus has been neglected for now as difficult to gain a large following as a ‘page’ rather than a ‘user’.
Twitter: 42 Tweets, 300 Following, 92 Followers
Blog: 20 posts now available. Traffic still remains low.

Week 8:
Twitter: 56 Tweets, 300 Following, 100 Followers
StumbleUpon: Registered account and added recent posts to profile. Automatic pingback generated false spike in traffic.
Blog: 22 posts now available. Traffic still remains low.

Week 9:
Twitter: 70 Tweets, 450 Following, 125 Followers
StumbleUpon: Big spike in traffic over two days from SU however traffic falls back down to normal levels.
Technorati: Registered account. Awaiting application to be approved.
Blog: 25 posts now available. About page updated. Traffic still remains low.

Week 10:
Twitter: 82 Tweets, 440 Following, 162 Followers

Planned Activities:
Continue with Twitter activity and better blog content.

Current Links:
Wordpress: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sparkNlaunch
Google+: plus.google.com/sparkNlaunch/
RSS: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/
StumbleUpon: stumbleupon.com/stumbler/sparknlaunch

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You might also enjoy:
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?

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.

Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update

Late last year we kicked off Project Trout (Social Media Experiment #1), aimed to share our own experiences with using social media to gain traffic and interest.

Our findings so far are not so surprising:
+ It is hard to get noticed, even in your own niche/field.
+ It takes time for responses.
+ Some efforts have resulted in zero attention.
+ Interest in a tweet doesn’t necessary result in a visitor to your blog.

We have summarized the activities below.

Week 1:
Go live – Blog goes from private to public. 8 initial postings available.
Enabled Google Webmaster Tools.
Enabled Social Media buttons on each post.
Improved header information and text.

Week 2:
Twitter and Google Plus accounts activated. An additional 4 postings made available.
RSS feeds added to Feedage.com.
Twitter: 6 Tweets, 2 Following, 11 Followers
Blog: Some traffic and comments to blog.

Week 3:
Monitored Twitter activity via Twitter Counter.
Added links to FeedShark, a free tool to promote your website.

Week 4:
Experimented with Pluggio and HootSuite to schedule and manage Twitter account.

Week 5:
Twitter: Increased the amount of Twitter users we were following from c. 15 to 350. Had a dramatic impact on followers (peaking around 110). Then a sudden fall over the following days down to nearly 80 followers. Many followers were spam accounts later deleted by Twitter.

Week 6:
No new activity.

Week 7:
Current focus is Twitter and WordPress blog. Google Plus has been neglected for now as difficult to gain a large following as a ‘page’ rather than a ‘user’.
Twitter: 42 Tweets, 300 Following, 92 Followers
Blog: 20 posts now available. Traffic still remains low.

Planned Activities:
More interaction within WordPress community.
Continue Twitter tweets.
Create more high quality content.

Current Links:
Wordpress: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sparkNlaunch
Google+: plus.google.com/sparkNlaunch/
RSS: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/

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You might also enjoy:
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ 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 Zoo Project – A Fantastic Marketing Opportunity

Appreciated that the entry date has now passed (end of Jan) but spotted this as an interesting project to follow. There are a lot of new businesses starting up trying to operate as the latest network provider between merchants and publishers. Parties are trying to build and offer new platforms to support this growing industry. This competition is offering an incubator for those interested in getting a foot in the door (or more).

The project is organised by Trade Doubler, a well known “Performance-based digital marketer”. More details on the project are available at The Zoo Project website.

Some quotes from the site:

The Zoo Project is a business incubator designed to foster grass roots growth and help drive innovation in the online marketing arena for companies specialising in the Affiliate Marketing industry.

Successful applicants will benefit from open plan business space in the central London location of Victoria, completely free of charge.

I don’t have any links to the organisers or any competitors but wish everyone good luck and will be waiting to see what comes out of this project.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ 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.

Project Trout – Social Media Experiment #1

Over the next few months we will be experimenting with methods of bringing more readers to this blog.

We have already made efforts to make it easier for interested readers to find this blog by adding meaningful and relevant tags and titles to each post.

However the biggest challenge will be measuring the effectiveness of individual social media tools (eg Twitter, Google+ and Facebook). Also, old school methods like Really Simple Syndication (RSS).

Fortunately plenty of free statistics tools are available so we hope that this bit will not be so difficult. The majority tell you how a visitor came to your website, what they read and what links they clicked on.

For example:
WordPress provides it’s own statistics dashboard.
Google Webmaster Tools offers the same.
Twitter Counter shows you metrics based on tweets, followers, followings. It forecasts these metrics based on previous performance.
Feedage lets you add your WordPress RSS feed to their directory and track previews and views.

As we go along we will update this post to include our new links. Currently we offer links to the site via:

WordPress: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sparkNlaunch
Google+: plus.google.com/sparkNlaunch/
RSS: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/

Last Update: 05/02/2012

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You might also enjoy:
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

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.

Web Stats – Who is top of the league table?

We spent some time trawling the web trying to work out what the most popular websites were by traffic and why?

It didn’t take long to find Alexa and the endless tables of web rankings.

“Alexa is the leading provider of free, global web metrics. Search Alexa to discover the most successful sites on the web by keyword, category, or country.”

We have published a small table of the top 30 (plus 1 to include Apple) websites in the world at this point in time (see below). There are no real surprises.

Search (google, yahoo), e-mail portals (google, microsoft, yahoo), blogging sites (blogspot, wordpress) and social networking (facebook, linkedin, twitter) feature highly. No surprises to see plenty of Chinese, Japanese and Indian appearing there as well.

One surprising aspect is that adult entertainment sites only start appearing around position 50 (no pun intended). Maybe the social networking sites have taken over?

The research is more interesting when you start looking into categories. It is a quick and handy way to see what your future competitors are up to.

The answer to the why these sites pull in so much traffic seems simple. The harder bit to answer is how you can get your website up the league tables?

We will write about POF another time, but yields an interesting story of web traffic and turning this into revenue.

Rank Name URL
1 Google google.com
2 Facebook facebook.com
3 YouTube youtube.com
4 Yahoo! yahoo.com
5 Baidu.com baidu.com
6 Wikipedia wikipedia.org
7 Windows Live live.com
8 Blogspot.com blogspot.com
9 Twitter twitter.com
10 Amazon.com amazon.com
11 QQ.COM qq.com
12 Taobao.com taobao.com
13 Google India google.co.in
14 LinkedIn linkedin.com
15 MSN msn.com
16 Yahoo! Japan yahoo.co.jp
17 新浪新闻中心 sina.com.cn
18 WordPress.com wordpress.com
19 Google google.de
20 eBay ebay.com
21 Google谷歌 google.com.hk
22 Яндекс yandex.ru
23 Google 日本 google.co.jp
24 Google UK google.co.uk
25 Google France google.fr
26 Bing bing.com
27 新浪微博-随时随地分享身边的新鲜事儿 weibo.com
28 t.co t.co
29 Microsoft Corporation microsoft.com
30 网易 163.com
31 Apple Inc. apple.com

Let’s see if this list changes much in the next few months.

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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.

Business Plans – “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (includes business plan template)

Some people do it, other don’t. Personally planning gives me some comfort in knowing what to expect. It’s my road map of who is doing what and when. Yes, in reality, things will always change but ultimately you have things you need to do regardless, and a target you are aiming for.

The good old business plan is the primary tool of budding entrepreneurs. Not all businesses promote this concept but unless you really have your ideas and objectives written down – are you really serious about things?

Business Link UK is a terrific resource and tells you everything you need to know about starting, financing, running a business and much more. They share templates and case studies that can simplify the underlying tasks.

Their instructions on preparing a business plan are really useful and a excellent starting point:
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1073869162

Another great place to look is on your local bank’s website. Most banks have heaps of information including useful business plan templates and instructions. Just google ‘bank name + business plan’. The several versions I found are extremely useful and as a customer many of the legal and business advice is free!

The key benefits of building a business plan is that you can use this document to present to potential bank managers and venture capitalists. It is your foundation stone of your business and can continue to be reviewed and changed as you progress.

If a 20+ pages business plan is a little too daunting for you. Check out the many free ‘one page’ business plan documents floating around the Internet. As a minimum it should capture:
1) Your Market (who are your customers and competitors?)
2) Your Marketing (what are your product/service features and benefits? And how will you sell this?)
3) Your Finances (how are you funding and what are your estimated operational and sales figures?)
4) Your Growth Opportunities (how developed is your product/service offering? And how can it grow?)

You can download a very quick draft two-pager business plan template I put together in Microsoft Excel. Feel free to play around with the format. Note that this is just a starting point and plenty of due diligence is still required.

Click link to download file –> sparknlaunch.wordpress.com business plan 2011 template (xls)

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
+ Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts

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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