Tag Archive | web

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!

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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.

Startup Weekend: What to Expect?

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.

First Day

Don’t forget a firm handshake and eye contact…

Image Credit: Career Girl Network

Prior Perpetration Prevent Poor Performance

A while ago we asked you what to expect from a startup weekend. We shared the below useful 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.

54 Hours Case Study

However if you need a little more information, Howard Kingston describes his 54 hours during a Startup Weeked held in London. In his Huffington Post article he shares his experiences when “300 ambitious entrepreneurs get into a room and have 54 hours to launch a business”.

It is a great case study on the weekend, and you can easily gain an appreciation for the 54 hours. Also, check out Youtube for video footage of past weekends.

Top Tips

What are the key learnings? Be prepared, be selective, be different, be available and add value.

1) Be Prepared

Understand the schedule.
Determine what you can offer your team.
Do some homework.
Be prepared to network, deliver a pitch, contribute to a team and stay up late!

2) Be Selective

From day one, try and focus on a single idea or product.
Join a team made up individuals you believe you can learn.

3) Be Different

Stand out with your idea or offering.
Normally the exciting ideas get the most attraction during the weekend.
Boring or safe options usually don’t attract the excitement.

4) Be Available

Be flexible, be available, be able to contribute.
Make sure you can help your team on the weekend.
Avoid disappearing to other events.
Commit to the full 54 hours.

5) Be Valuable

Even if you’re not a programmer, read up on methodologies and validation processes.
Check out some marketing tutorials.
Create the twitter account and facebook pages. Build the vibe around the venue with posters and handouts.

Inspiration

Good luck with your weekend. If you need some inspiration, just check out links below. Both offer some great inspiration. Remember you don’t need to create a new idea. Sometimes the best ideas are already out there – they just need someone to execute them.

+ Ideas Watch – A website for entreprenuers looking to share and develop ideas. Thousands of ideas available for discussion.
+ Flippa – Websites and applications ready for sale. Gain an insight into the website marketplace.

Got something to share? Drop us a line using the social media links below!

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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.

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.

Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

blogging_blog_trend_dead

tl;dr Some are questioning if blogging is alive or dead. Blogging is certainly not dead, it continues to rapidly evolve.

Is Blogging Dead?

Blogging is not dead.

Although the conventional notions of traditional old school blogging are most likely outdated.

Blogging or writing online has changed rapidly in the past few decades. Anyone can create and publish an extensive body of writing, video and photos. Blogging has become a mainstream hobby. Microblogging is intensively easy and popular.

The ease of publishing has flooded the market and pushed traditional print authors into online forums. This has essentially made gaining and audience via blogging extremely competitive. It is hard to stand out from the crowd and maintain a following.

The advent of online advertising has also spurred terrabytes of lifeless content to drive quantity (traffic), rather than quality. How can a sole blogger compete with an army of content aggregators and Search Engine Optimisers?

The days of hard coding your blog posts in HTML and having intellectual dialogue with like minded individuals is dwindling. Mass media professional bloggers are taking over with paid subscription and mass advertising models. Reputation, backing and infrastructure are keys to being noticed in this crowded space.

Blogging is not dead, it just continues to evolve.

Got an opinion on the topic? Then please leave us a comment!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?
+ 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.

Twitter Introduces Vine – Post 6 Second Videos Online

twitter_vine_6_six_second_video_tweet

In 6 seconds…

Twitter introduces 6-second video tweets. Will audiences tune in or out? What scandals will it create? And will it generate revenue? Read more below…

Tweets

In 2006 Twitter introduced the world to an online social networking service that enabled its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters. They introduced a web based platform for broadcasting short messages. It came at a time when mobile phones were becoming smart and people were already hooked on text messaging and instant chat. Now Twitter have 500 million registered users, generating over 340 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day.

Veets?

This month they introduced Vine, available via iTunes in app format. Vine allows users to tweet 6-second video.

According to iTunes:
“Vine is the best way to see and share life in motion. Create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see.”

Will users be attracted to such short video? Will users be able to cope with streams of video tweets? Will this be information overload?

Danger

To the creative this may be another avenue to showcase their talents. However as we have seen with Twitter, being able to broadcast a message or photo to millions in an instance is a recipe for disaster.

Revenue

Since inception pundits have been trying to determine how Twitter can monetise it’s data. Will video shorts open the gateway for paid video advertising?

It feels as if Twitter is looking to extends it’s capability from plain text and photos into video. Facebook and YouTube have shown the benefit in these mediums. Smartphones already offer the technology. However will users buy into such short film? Only time will tell.

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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.

Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty

Four Marketing Ps Product Place Promotion Price

tl;dr Reddit built a platform that met the needs of visitors it attracted. By having a functional website that appeals to a wide community, appearance was not as important as maintaining it’s client base. When building a product remember – product, price, place and promotion.

Why Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty?

Recently someone asked Why is reddit so famous despite such a boring interface?

Google, Craigslist, Facebook, Wikipedia, Amazon, Quora and Reddit. All these popular companies began their lives with basic, simple, boring and sometimes plain ugly websites. Many still retain the boring interfaces but maintain a user base of millions of users.

These sites provide functionality that fulfils the desires of it’s users, with or without beautiful front end experiences. When designing your new product or minimum viable product, consider the core functionality instead of getting stuck of the appearance. Your fancy looking product is useless if it cannot actually do anything.

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When planning your product, consider the following:

+ Good functionality typically wins over beautiful design.

Google started as a great search engine with a simplistic user interface. It didn’t need to be beautiful to bring back accurate search results.
Craigslist looks ugly but delivers a service to it’s customers. After all how beautiful does a classified adverts site have to look?

+ Ugly can triumph beauty.

Web marketers have seen ugly banner adverts attaining higher conversion rates than more colourful and attractive adverts. Humans are sometimes drawn to ugly and boring. Sometimes ugly websites can go viral.

+ Marketing comes down to four p’s. You need to think about all four.

Often ugly sites have an intelligence and powerful marketing campaign and/or are incredible flexible. PlentyOfFish spent money on advertising to attract visitors and constantly improved functionality to meet customer needs.

Note: If you particular niche or competitive advantage is design, then obviously beauty plays a part. For the rest of us, look at providing your prospective customers with something functional.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?
+ Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral
+ 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.

The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are less than a week away and excitement is building for the biggest sporting event on the planet. With 26 sports, 10,500 athletes and millions of spectators the numbers are mind boggling. Fortunately the creative folk have simplified the figures into pretty infographics. (Information graphics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge.)

Here are some of our favourites. Drop us a line on if you find any other Olympic infographcs.

1. Time Out Magazine – The Games by tickets, athletes and torch bearers…

2. Schweppes Abbey Well – The drinks company dives into the Summer Games in terms of liquids…

3. McDonald’s – The sponsorship history of one of the official sponsors…

4. Visa – A breakdown of the estimated economic impact of the Games…

5. Olympic Evolution – The initial games featured 14 nations. Now more than 200 nations compete…

6. New Zealand Herald – Breaking down the all the numbers and statistics surrounding the London 2012 Olympics…

7. Daily Infographic – Shows the evolution of Olympic coverage…

8. Complex – A Design History Of The Olympic Gold Medal…

9. Mashable – How Mobile, Social Will Win the 2012 Olympics…

10. Find Me A Gift – Olympic Events You Won’t See At London 2012…

For more infographics and data visualisations check out the Cool Infographics Blog and Google Maps Mania Blog.

Image Credit: In Graphics’ Flickr Photostream

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You might also enjoy:
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!

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 do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News? (4 Links in 1 Day)

How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News?

tl;dr This posting describes our experience of having four of our relevant Hacker News link submissions reaching the top four positions of the Hacker News frontpage. And then us later being hellbanned. How do you get on the frontpage? 1) Luck and good timing, 2) Gain karma points quickly, 3) Smart title, 4) Relevant submission, 5) Avoid downvotes.

Introduction

For a few minutes in late June, four of our news submissions sat on top of the Hacker News frontpage rankings. For many the response will be “so what” or “did you read the guidelines”. This posting is simply a record of observation that may or may not help anyone understand the news sites ranking algorithm.

The System

The community often questions the unknown Hacker News ranking algorithm and voting protocol. The Hacker News Slap – the phenomenon of quickly making the frontpage, only to be removed just as fast – is a mystery to many (all).

The system is not perfect however is probably the best one can achieve given the large volume of submissions to the site. The site gets more than 20k of page views a month to the main domain. Once you start adding in other aggregation and referral sites you get a much larger number.

Duplication of popular stories often occur (eg Steve Jobs’ death, The Facebook IPO…) but typically fresh and unique submissions stay in the top 30.

The Problem

Two significant stories occurred in the week that did not rank (highly) on the site:

1) The extradition of a UK student to US for alleged copyright infringement.

2) China’s technological achievement in space and under the ocean.

The Submission

They felt totally relevant and therefore we submitted links on both stories. We submitted multiple links to try and have one stick on the Hacker News frontpage. If your link doesn’t stay on the frontpage it has zero chance of drumming up any discussion.

1. Wikipedia founder steps in to help UK hacker (huffingtonpost.co.uk)
(HN Comments)

2. Petition to stop extradition of UK hacker (change.org)
(HN Comments)

3. China trumps SpaceX and James Cameron in same week (cnn.com)
(HN Comments)

4. China triumphs in space and sea (bbc.co.uk)
(HN Comments)

The Result

The first two remained in top spot for several hours. The second two were quickly moderated and disappeared into the ether, even though scoring points due to obvious interest. (See screenshot above.)

We quickly discovered we were hellbanned, most likely by a human moderator perceiving our behaviour as a breach of written/unwritten rules. We currently remain banned but hope this posting can be useful to those wanting to share and discuss relevant content with the Hacker News community.

Summary

So, how do you get on the frontpage? It seems to be a mixture of the following:

1. Luck and good timing – Weekends, mornings, evenings. Timing varies however weekends seem to have less noise and therefore a successful frontpage story is likely to remain on the frontpage for longer. However it is likely to experience less traffic than midweek.

2. Gain karma points quickly – Points are crucial in you getting top spot. You could collude with friends and colleagues however if detected faces downvoting.

3. Smart title – The title should be attractive enough to gain attention, but not too suggestive that it breaches guidelines and gets you downvoted or banned.

4. Relevant submission – Remember your audience. Anything off topic or irrelevant is unlikely to get any traction.

5. Avoid downvotes – Once your submission gets voted downwards, your time is up. Typically downvoting kills a submission.

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

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You might also enjoy:
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones

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.

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Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike

The Hacker News Middle Finger


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tl;dr Prior to 11 June 2012, only 2,645 visitors had visited our blog. One HN submission sent 2,958 visitors to our blog in one single day. This post documents the experience.

On 11 June 2012 at 14:00 GMT we submitted one of our blog post links to Hacker News. By luck or good timing this submission made it onto the Front Page. It didn’t stay there for long, but this is what happened behind the scenes.

For context we have sent plenty of other submissions to Hacker News, mainly out of curiosity to understand why some submissions go viral while others die a slow and lonely death. We were surprised this one made it through the noise.

We are recording this blog entry i) to share the details with anyone who may care and ii) we had only had 2,645 visitors prior to this event – we received 2,958 visitors in one day.

This experience confirmed that traffic doesn’t matter, good content is important and being unique matters. Otherwise your time and effort is wasted on your audience.

Anyway, here is the commentary:

+ First Hour:

1. Submitted Link to HN:

HN Link: Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

..00:00 AM Sydney Time
..07:00 AM San Francisco
..10:00 AM New York
..14:00 PM London GMT
..15:00 PM London

2. Tweeted HN Link on Twitter:

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3. We retweet two tweets made by Hacker News bots:

(Link to Blog Post)

(Link to Hacker News)

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4. Traffic is slowing ticking up to around 200 visitors.

5. HN Link upvoted to 4 points in first hour, 2 comments.

6. Blog post is now on front page of HN (hangs around 20th position).

7. Site traffic hits 800 in first hour with approx 25 hits per minute.

8. Bulk of referral traffic now directly from HN frontpage (news.ycombinator.com), followed by other HN pages, Google Reader, Twitter.

9. HN Link disappears off front page.

10. Traffic flow continues at rapid pace.

+ Next Day:

1. Traffic flow takes a steep dive downwards. Record 281 visitors that is well above our previous average.

** Previous day had two links within HN discussions that directed traffic (250 day prior)
** Before this, traffic was barely ticking over (<20 visitors).

2. Few visitors navigated through to any other parts of the blog. One person reblogged the post, two others left comments.

+ The Aftermath:

1. Over the next 10 days we record c. 380 visitors. Still legacy referrals from the HN site, Google Reader and Facebook.

2. The visitors to the specific linked blog post had diminished.

3. Hopefully some positive lessons learned about running a blog.

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
+ 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.

Be the First to Like Us on Facebook

We recently announced our foray onto Facebook. It is difficult to ignore Facebook with 900 million active users. Unfortunately we are yet to get much of a following. Therefore this is a shout out for support.

Simply log onto Facebook and visit our page. Invite your friends and share your views on entrepreneurship, startups and technology.

And don’t forget, we are also on all the other mainstream social media site – please get invovled:

twitter.com/SparknLaunch

plus.google.com/SparkNLaunch

facebook.com/SparkNLaunch

sparknlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/ (RSS)

stumbleupon.com/stumbler/sparknlaunch

technorati.com/SparkNLaunch/

sprouter.com/sparknlaunch/

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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.

Technology – Is a black pixel on or off?

Bright Lights (Tech Radar)

[Note: This post is random post about Light Emitting Diode (LED). For more startup related messages, visit our main site.]

In a recent Techzing Podcast the guys spoke about the deceptively inefficient Yelp rating system. On a unrelated topic they briefly raised the question: is a black pixel on or off?

The curiosity got the better of us and we spent some time googling the answer. In summary LED turn the pixel off to display black. However in older display technology, the answer differs. We share the results below.

Pre-Flat – Blocks Light:

In the world before flat screens, screens had a big flat light at the back that was always on.

“If a pixel wanted to show you white it lets all the light through. If it wants to show you black it blocks all the light. Either way, the light behind is still on and still consuming the same power.”

(Source: Steve Mould)

LCD – Blocks Light:

“Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) pixels do not produce there own light. If the pixels are off, they don’t let the backlight through, when they are on, they let the backlight through.”

(Source: About.Com)

AMOLED – Turns Off:

To display black, AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) turns off the pixel. As a result you can save your battery by displaying black.

(Source: Wikipedia)

For more information you can visit the Nokia Developer site for their study on how color makes a difference.

Steve Mould test the hypothesis with some impressive calculations. His post How much phone battery can you save by switching to dark wallpapers and themes? provides an insight into extending the life of your phone battery.

We are not scientists, so drop us a line if we have mixed up the facts!

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You might also enjoy:
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!

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.

To Code or Not To Code

“John celebrated his ‘Hello World’ code!”


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“To be, or not to be, that is the question…” eloquently wrote William Shakespeare in the opening phrase of Hamlet. Nowadays “to code, or not to code” is the hot question filling up discussion boards and Friday night technology meetups. The ongoing discussion touches on the level of coding required to be involved in a startup and whether one should even bother putting in the time to learn. Note when we say ‘coding’, we are referring to any programming/development activities that involve typing and executing code.

This week alone numerous posts filled up the frontpage of Hacker News. Articles promoting coding were quickly followed by articles discouraging coding. Coders, hackers and non-coders fought over the virtues of learning code and the very discussion proved the point of how varied the opinion is on the matter. For every failed non-coder tale there was a story of a successful one.

While some argue that it is a prerequisite for any founder to know and understand code, others cite the many non-technical founders quite happy to sit at the top of a organisation letting experts develop their product. There just doesn’t appear to be a ‘black and white’ answer to the question. This may well hint that a successful startup is not built on code alone, but the things around it.

Some thoughts on learning to code:

+ Understanding: You don’t need to be an expert but understanding code and the technology helps in making informed decisions about your product and platform. Sure you can defer to your CTO however it surely must pay to know a little bit on a topic than nothing at all. And especially when you don’t have or cannot afford a CTO.

+ Measurement: The level of coding knowledge is difficult to measure and is not always comparable. Someone may know everything about one language and nothing about another. Someone may understand the mechanics of coding but not know any specific language at all. How much one learns may not be easily measured, compared or applied.

+ Diversity: So you want to start coding – okay which language? HTML/CSS/JS/PHP/Ruby/Python/Flash… Then there is further division between front end and back end, and what flavour of language. Plain old vanilla ‘JavaScript’ or new style ‘CoffeeScript’. Sure there are similarities and fundamentals you can pick up, but even once you select a language there are still divisions.

+ Time/Focus: When you are in the rush of starting a business there is so much to learn. You have customers to go speak to and put out fires. Do you have the time and focus to start learning and fixing code? Some argue the importance of focusing on your skills and outsourcing your gaps. Eventually you will need to handover the code to an expert. Maybe it is a benefit to employ a professional coder sooner rather than later, allowing you more time to focus on selling/marketing etc.

Our personal experience is that to be taken seriously by many developers and other startup folk, showing you have made any effort to learn code is well received. You don’t need to be an expert but certainly being able to write something down and show off a prototype is a respectable achievement. However we do feel that a careful balance is needed to ensure that focus is given in the right places to ensure that you are not just left with a great code, but a great business.

Want more, check out some other views on learning to code:
Please Learn to Code
Please Don’t Lean to Code
Why I Desperately Needed to Learn To Code
Please Don’t Become Anything, Especially Not A Programmer
Please Learn to Write

Image Credit: uBelly

More Spark n Launch.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk
+ 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.

New Startup Lingo – More Buzzwords

A few months ago we launched our very own startup glossary to help others learn the lingo. We collated a list of some of the commonly used buzz words being used in the community. We are now planning to expand the list – so please tell us what you would like added.

We are working to add these (plus more):

A/B Testing
Crowdfunding
Early Adopter
Freemium
Funding
Horizontal
Human Capital
Hyperlocal
Long Tail
Low Hanging Fruit
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Monetise
Seed Money
Sweat Equity
Startup
Stealth
Social Media
Stack
Traction
Vertical
Web 2.0

The current glossary includes:

Agile
Angel
Burn Rate
Bootstrap
Business Plan
Business Model
Customer Development Model
Disruption
Elevator Pitch
Entrepreneur
Equity
Incubator
Intraprenuer
Lean Startup
Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
Pivot
Venture Capital (VC)

If you cannot wait for our list to be updated, check out Forbes and their Startup Infographic.

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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.

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