Archive for category Wealth

Marketing Ideas for Rental Businesses (like SGPad)

Reproduced from the blog post written by yours truly on the SGPad.com blog!

Having been in the rental business for a couple of months now and as a marketing major myself, I’ve realized that marketing and advertising for a smaller niche business is extremely different from marketing a large firm or organization.

We’re currently working on SEO (search engine optimization), Google Adwords, and some word-of-mouth promotions and and are currently looking for more ideas so we did some useful web crawling and see what we found (my own thoughts in italics!):

1. Partner with other similar businesses: look for other businesses who have your same target audience and bundle your services together. Hmmm… we’ve been working mainly with event companies, education companies and startups who use our iPads for presentations. Anyone out there with a similar audience? We’re friendly people and would love to work together!

2. Put your logo on your products: create some stickers and paste them on your products. We’re not too sure about point 2 for SGPad as we don’t know how our customers will react to it! Will go try it out soon though – SGPad stickers sound like fun!

3. Use promotions: set up booths with games and special offers and events relevant to your target customers. Make it easy for your prospective customers to see all the benefits of renting a product with your company. Great food for thought here! SGPad is positioning ourselves as a iPad deployment specialist and should have a booth that does not just give out flyers – but rather demonstrate the myriad ways potential customers can deploy iPads that add great value to their businesses.

4. Speaking at events: speaking at events as a startup founder might not get you paid a lot, but what it would do for you is help increase recall amongst your customers as well as be seen as an expert in the field. Love speaking already – just need to find the right events that would want us!

5. Press releases: (from essortment.com)

Take a look at the People section of your business newspaper. Every one of those items came from a press release. And all those companies are getting free publicity.

What have you done that merits a release? How about:

  • winning an award
  • hiring two new employees
  • landing a big contract

If you can’t think of any reason for a release, create one. Donate used equipment to a local school, offer your services to a non-profit organization, and sponsor a festival. Editors use releases that contain real news, not advertising.

Make sure to include contact information, and a little background information about your company. You might also want to mail a copy of your service brochure or company profile with the release. And, if you have them, good quality photos are always a plus.

Great idea here again! Going to write to some awesome news sites with some ideas for events when i’m done with this blog post!

6. Sampling: let some of your target customers try your service for free so that they have a good feel of how the service can help them. Could be potentially tricky as we have to collect deposits on the rentals as well as make deliveries… worth keeping in mind though!

7. Referral Letters: create a strong case for existing customers, or relevant organizations to refer customers to you. Referring customers to you with a mark-up could end up becoming a mutually beneficial source of income for both parties. Ok noted, will make a point to do this when I interact with future customers. Will also make it evident in company newsletter.

8. Newsletters: offer real news and information that your clients would like to use, and some reason to subscribe. We’re in the process of trying to do this but are still working on the content part. What if we duplicate the content of our blog and send it out anyway? Hmmm…

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The past month’s progress report

Seems that time just flies! Been keeping busy traveling, meeting developers and finalizing how our startup’s first mobile app will work with my partners and it seems that I totally didn’t make time to blog. Guess that now that we finally have our own beautiful little cubicle in NTU’s innovation centre, I have no excuse but to make some time on Mondays to chronicle how my startup is growing.

Oh well haven’t blogged in a month, but at least I had a great month filled with solid learning experiences! So… where do I start?

Been having tea with tons of people as well!

Been having tea with tons of people as well!

Getting the product-market fit right

Guess I’ll start with the current state of my startup. Right now, we’re still working on the concept and trying to get product-market fit right, in that we’re still meeting and talking to the primary target audience of our product (salespeople), and gathering feedback from them to refine our concept.

But real life ain’t business school where assumptions and clear logic are enough. Assumptions have to be tested against the market and my partner and I are currently trying to get our startup’s first product – a mobile assistant that aims to improve on the way salespeople interact with their clients – prototyped.

As my partner and I are not (yet) hardcore iOS developers, we’ve been spending the last week or so talking to iOS developers, working on our project briefs as well as thinking of ways to raise development capital for our little project over here. I think that out of the many meetings we went for, we did come across some gems and we really hope to have chosen a quality partner by the end of the week.

Looking for capital

Secondly, my partner and I are also looking into the many government funds for funding for our project. We strongly believe in our company vision to help transform the world into a much friendlier, kinder and considerate place with our products and have been talking to people all over on how our startup can secure some seed money.

We’ve probably got enough to start production of a prototype or two by ourselves, but some government support will really help! Do let us know if any of you readers out there have connections to managers of government funds! We would love to talk to meet them!

Growing the team

Geniuses required!

Geniuses required!

Finally, after some discussion, my partner and I have also decided to start looking for talent based in KL. We’re currently looking to fill in the following two positions:

General requirements:

- Based in the Klang Valley

- Able to speak English fluently

- Self-motivated and able to work independently

- A good team player and with a proactive attitude

- Minimum diploma and above

1. iOS Developer

- needs to be proficient in Objective-C and able to work independently

- must have a strong interest in design thinking and UI design

2. Web Developer

- must be comfortable with design back-end systems and working with databases

- Required skill(s): HTML, JavaScript, PHP, Web Design, CSS

Interested applicants please email us at quirkapp@gmail.com with your resume, expected salary and recent photograph. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Would also really appreciate it if you spread the word to friends of yours who have just graduated and want real hands on experience on how working with a startup is like!

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Guess that pretty neatly sums up what I’ve been working on lately! Will write about some of the many things that I’ve learnt real soon!

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Blessed.

It has been a tiring but yet a fulfilling week working on my startup idea. We set out to conduct a questionnaire, went out to get it done, and ended up with much more than just mere results. The failure of our online questionnaire led us to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and approach financial planners all over – be it at Newton, Raffles Place, or even over the phone. My team and I were pleasantly surprised when a great majority of the people we interviewed didn’t chase us away, but rather were pretty interested about our idea – quite a number of them even going so far as to leave their email and phone numbers with us, asking us to keep them in the loop, with regard to the project.

The questionnaires we had to process!

The questionnaires we had to process!

I think that it’s just super amazing how we actually made some pretty good friends and mentors though conducting a survey. I guess it all comes down to being humble and showing a keen interest to learn.

Looking back at the whole exercise, I guess my team and I are just really blessed to have such awesome people around us, helping us every step of the way. A big shout out goes to all of you awesome people that helped me out in any way, be it passing me a number, introducing me to some friends, or even passing our survey along. Special thanks goes out to Pamela and Melissa who actually took us out to meet insurance agents they knew, which in turn introduced us to a whole lot more awesome people!

And the great thing was that I wasn’t just meeting great insurance agents – my awesome friends and family never fail to support me, continuously introducing me to new and interesting mentors who each have powerful lessons to teach me. One of the key perks of being employed is having the opportunity to work and learn the trade from a good boss. Not having a boss, I’m just so blessed to be surrounded by mentors from different fields who readily and generously share the wealth of their experiences with me. Thank you so much.

Through all this, I have really learnt two main things

1. If you are interested in starting a business… just go start! Find some way to begin and just go do it. Start small if you have to! Persistence, focus and the alignment of your venture with your deepest values will cause magical things to happen helping you learn so much faster along the way! There is just no substitute for just starting! Saying that you need experience or capital is just making another excuse for yourself! I’ve started small, with just tons of interviews, surveys, brainstorming sessions and consultations with mentors – and I feel that I probably learnt so much more than I would if I took up a typical marketing position at a typical marketing firm.

2. And that true success in life probably isn’t just measured in dollars and cents – the number of lives whom you’ve touched are really important too! In this whole process of trying to get EasyGreet started, I’ve realized that what motivates me in business is really the people. I love interacting and connecting with people, and businesses are what drives value – and potentially human happiness if done correctly – up if done correctly. For more thoughts on happiness and about the meaning of success, do check this extremely meaningful article out.

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Guess that’s it for this week! Hope that my partners and I will have more to share in the days to come! Count your blessings when you can! (We’re sure blessed with our secret hideout as well!)

Our secret hideout!

Our secret hideout!

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3 Important Internet Business Concepts

I’m currently fully graduated from university and spending quite a bit of time working on a few internet startup concepts – I’ve been speaking to mentors, reading up and learning about business model analysis and really trying to throughly analyse my models. Going through this entire process has made me really thankful of some insights that I have gleaned as a result of my experience with internet startups – both through interning at one, as well as through my observation of them over the past few years. (:

Here are just a few crucial concepts that in my opinion, are fundamentally important in making an internet-based-business succeed.

What I've learnt so far!

What I've learnt so far!

1. You have to be the very best at what you do.

It’s a misconception that internet businesses don’t require much work. I’ve talked to tons of people who are of the opinion that you can just set up a website to sell stuff online and just expect to generate sales without too much effort. That’s extremely unlikely to happen.

A mentor of mine once told me that money on the internet is probably much harder to make as compared to traditional brick and mortar businesses. He is right in many ways on that.

What the internet does is that it makes the world much smaller. A small sundry mart in a small Asian suburb does not have to necessarily compete with a gigantic Wal-Mart in the USA, but an internet startup has to battle with the biggest and strongest players out there from the very beginning! There’s no such thing as comfortable protectionist policies out there on the global internet!

Only the most outstanding players survive, and hence, Zipf’s law, that states that the number one in a field will be way disproportionately more popular than the second ranked player in the field, is amplified on the online arena! On the internet, if you’re not the best, the rapid pace of innovation will just leave you forgotten in the dust.

For those of you more into math (:

For those of you more into math (:

If you ever want to start up an online business, do take a feather out of Pokemon’s Ash Ketchum’s hat and focus on being the very best and strive to be the very best. In the hypercompetitive arena of the internet, there’s no place for #2 or #3.

(always worth listening to every now and then :P )

Speaking of being forgotten…

2. On the internet, Mindshare is necessary for survival.

Quick question – what do  you think separates Groupon from the millions of other clones out there? In my opinion it definitely isn’t the system, service or business model but rather the mindshare that Groupon possesses. People know and remember Groupon, not the thousands of other clones out there, and with a limited bookmark bar in your browser (as well as a limited attention span) people naturally will only use the service which stands out in their memory!

Hence, Mindshare is a crucially important asset for most online business models and if you can observe existing online businesses such as job and property portals, you can see that due to the large amount of competition in the field and low barriers to entry, players have found themselves having to shell out large amount of advertising expenditure to stay competitive. If you are ever in doubt of that, do keep a lookout for Jobstreet and Property Guru ads all around, I’ve seen them all over Singapore AND Kuala Lumpur!

One important implication of this is that competing with established players can be costly, sometimes more so than with a brick and mortar business model. So what do new entrants to the market (like me) have to do? We have to jolly well be creative and create a blue ocean (go check out Blue Ocean Strategy, awesome book) ! That’s why it’s so vital to come up with something new, different and creative that people can remember!

A novel fresh take on a business model makes it so much easier to earn the Mindshare necessary to succeed in this field at a minimal cost. But then again, a fresh take on a business model does not necessarily have to be a completely new one…

3. Radical simplicity really matters.

… it could be that all it takes is that your model is a much simpler and improved version of an older business model!

Look at Friendster vs Facebook, Wuala vs Dropbox and so many more examples out there! Those newer models gained so much more ground because they were so much easier to use with just a few key differentiating features but otherwise very similar to the older models! Facebook’s clean simple interface and Dropbox’s remarkable desktop and mobile integration were key to having the possibly not so tech-savvy masses – the vast majority of users out there.

The adoption curve

The adoption curve - the money's clearly in the centre!

To court them, you have to be very, very, very easy to use. There is no too easy to use here! Hence, do try to make radical simplicity a part of your internet startup if you’re working on one too!

Send me feedback and your opinions!

These are just a couple of my thoughts and I really welcome feedback as I’m actually working on some internet business ideas and am always willing to learn more! Let me know what you think and what else you want to hear from me! Now that I’m unemployed and currently working on my startup plans, I’m dedicating Monday mornings to writing and keeping you guys updated on my journey through the exciting new frontiers of technopreneurship!

Alternatively, do send feedback to me at kevin (at) kevinc.net!

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The Man Who Just Made A Cool Half Million From The Sale Of Virtual Property

The cool dude who made half a million bucks.

A pretty cool story about the man who just made a whopping $635,000 selling virtual property! In short, it played out something like this:

Kid born to a father who was a financier banned from the London Stock Market for shady deals, grows up wanting to be an actor, but as hard as he tried, never made it really big. Kept playing video games while trying to write screenplays, but found himself procrastinating all day to write the said screenplays. Ends up building, developing and selling virtual property on Entropia Universe, an MMORPG that has a set exchange rate for its virtual currency to real world currency. Spends $100,000 life savings on buying virtual space station. Develops said space station. Sells refurbished space station for a cool half million bucks this month.

Pretty awesome story huh? I thought so too.

Read all about it here:

Meet The Man Who Just Made A Cool Half Million From The Sale Of Virtual Property – Oliver Chiang – SelectStart – Forbes.

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