Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Google Wave Invites

Just got an invite to Google Wave. I have few invites to give out. Here is the deal. First 10 readers to request one gets it. Email me from your gmail account: admin@offlinr.com


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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Advertisements Fuel the Internet, Other Revenue Models Will Fail

It strikes to me as ironic that people lash out against ads on website that owe their very existence to ad revenue. The online services that I use on a daily basis are all free and I have come to depend heavily on them. Imagine if we had to pay for search, email, social network, forums, news etc. We spend hours online each day on facebook, gmail, youtube etc. without paying a dime. That leads us to the question, if we don’t pay these services then who does? Most people know the answer, but some don’t want to admit it. Advertisements are the fuel for the World Wide Web as we know it.

This leads us to an interesting case. How will the World Wide Web function if advertising was not an option? Here are the obvious models:

Pay-to-access: Websites will charge users to access content. For example you will pay a monthly fee to access facebook, gmail, twitter or any of your favorite website. This will wipe out all the mid to small independent sites because most people will subscribe only to a finite number of top sites.

Website-bundles: These are packages that include some top sites with few mid tier sites thrown in. You pay a monthly subscription fee for the bundles. For example the basic package will include Yahoo, Google, Gmail etc. The gold option will add Facebook, Twitter, top 10 blogs etc. Similar to your cable programming packages. Your ISP might start offering these.

Product placements: Advertising will morph itself as paid placements. Suddenly you will see sites endorsing various products. Today if a blogger writes “I was stuck in LA traffic”, without “advertisements” it will be, “I was stuck in LA traffic in my Honda Accord sipping Coke”.

There could be many other models that will rise out this scenario. Unfortunately I’m yet to come across a single one that seems better than the existing advertising based revenue model.


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Monday, November 2, 2009

Interested in Startups? - Google Search

We are on the first page of Google search for the phrase "interested in startups". We are enjoying the love. Hopefully we can bubble to the top as we bring you articles that help you catapult your startup.

Meanwhile we will be thrilled if you could give us a plug on your social net (twitter, facebook etc.). Every little shoutout counts.


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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Simplicity Leads To Prosperity

I read this very simple yet sensible article on the Internet today that does a very good job of telling us about the very basics that are required to start a decent startup - the basics that most people (failed companies?) do not focus on. I will (in 2 parts) list all the 8 points that Steve Spalding mentions in that article, and try to add my own views and interpretations.

#1 Bad communication is the death of small companies.

"Get development and marketing on the same page as soon as you can."

Most of us are probably familiar with the never ending conflicts between the design/development and marketing teams. The design team wants the product to be marketed in a certain way, and the marketing team usually doesn't listen to them and comes up with its own strategies - the justification being that it understands consumer behavior better. The marketing team may not realize that the new product may have some features that would totally change the way consumers use that product - it may be bring a totally new experience that would make everyone's life much more easy and exciting.

Understanding consumer behavior is important, but it does not mean that the design team's opinions should be ignored. Being on the same page can create a win win situation for everybody.

#2 You make your product, your community designs it.

"Don’t get so caught up in your idea that you build a product your users don’t understand."

I agree.

Excess of everything is bad. The idea is to provide a service or product to the user community that they would appreciate, not to confuse them with too many options and create unnecessary complexities. Give them the basics first, and then slowly start adding more features based on their feedback. Bells and whistles are nice, but sometimes they are really not necessary.

# 3 You’re not important.

"You are not some creative genius that discovered the mysteries of the Universe. Keep yourself in perspective and learn to take advice."

I would like to mention that I know of a real world example (a new Indian restaurant in my town) that really did not conform to this statement. The owner tried a little too hard - and did not succeed. He offered beef in the restaurant, and did not serve the Indian bread (naan) that we all are so used to eating in a typical Indian restaurant. He perhaps thought that the beef dishes would attract more white folks to the restaurant, but what he perhaps did not realize is the fact that Beef is something customers are not used to seeing at an Indian restaurant. Many Indian customers were bound to get grossed out. And no naan? That is just plain wrong.

We may come up with some great ideas, but we also have to realize that what we think is right may be completely wrong for the majority of our target market.

#4 Talk to everyone.

"The more narrowly you focus on throne room, the more unlikely it will be that you’ll see the barbarians knocking at your door. Get out there and look around."

It is definitely important to include as many perspectives as possible to get the final finished product you desire. Talking to people always helps to understand and gather some very important information that we may have unintentionally ignored. This information would help us focus on our main goal.

These are the first four points from Steve Spalding's article. Read the full article here.

Feedback from all of you would be greatly appreciated.


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