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Get action-oriented with analytics from Spinnakr

For years, digital marketers have told businesses why they need web analytics.

Many listened and eagerly installed a few lines of code onto their website to track visitors with programs like Google Analytics — because that was easy. They regularly checked their account taking in a broad overview of traffic numbers. That was also easy. But they did nothing more.

Why did they stop there?

That’s because it takes a dedicated data analyst to sort through the numbers, which can be costly and time consuming. But who has the money or time for that?

From insight, to recommendation, to action in real-time

Spinnakr, a web analytics platform that came out of beta last month and raised almost $1 million in funding from investors including 500 Startups and Andreessen Horowitz, provides a new and easier alternative for website owners who need more from their analytics tools than just hard numbers.

Spinnakr Analytics Screenshot

Spinnakr provides real-time analytics to help you discover important insights and trends related to your web traffic that, once targeted, can almost instantaneously impact your bottom line. According to the company’s profile on Angel List, Spinnakr “does all of the work for you — from insight, to recommendation, to action in real-time.”

First, the software identifies unusual trends in traffic and instead of spitting out numbers that take careful deciphering, it tells you in plain words what happened.

“You have a traffic spike from WSJ.com.”

J. J. Colao of Forbes reports, “With a snippet of code inserted into a client’s webpage, Spinnakr analyzes web traffic for a week, taking note of traffic sources, volume and user behavior. When the company detects an unusual traffic event–say a spike in volume or an out-sized source of referrals–it automatically notifies the website owner with a summary of the event.”

Next, Spinnakr recommends what to do with the new information and enables you to act on the recommendation without hassling your tech team.

Jordan Novet of GigaOM spoke with Spinnakr co-founder Adam Bonnifield who said, “If there are traffic spikes that happen in real time, you just let the user know about that, and you give them the power to just type out a message, which gets automatically deployed to the website.”

In the above example, it’s a rapid-response system for traffic spikes.

Optimize for visitor segments

Spinnakr also allows you to tailor your website for different visitor segments, such as speakers of foreign languages, potential recruits or Facebook users.

Bonnifield told Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily, “The app will benefit sites that get a lot of organic traffic, and businesses that get different value from different kinds of customers.”

Think of it as a simple, customizable real-time landing page. No coding skills necessary.

With Spinnakr, you can optimize your conversion rate without bothering IT, and even receive recommendations for HOW to optimize your site. No more excuses, just more leads and sales.

Spinnakr provides tiered pricing based on the number of sites you want to track, the number of recommendations you want to receive, and the amount of incoming traffic your sites get. Spinnakr’s “small” plan costs $18 per month for use on 1 site with up to 1,000 unique visitors, and comes with 10 actionable recommendations. Custom plans start at $500 per month. For the risk-averse, there’s also a free plan that is “enough to get started and all you need for smaller sites.”

Sign up for Spinnakr at its website.

 

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Vizify, a new way to recruit and visualize candidates

VizifyIf you are a small business that is hiring, you may notice plenty of candidates look pretty good on paper.

An M.B.A. here. A perfect G.P.A. there. Experience leading a multi-national team.

All those things are added bonuses, for sure. But don’t forget that the perfect candidate must be compatible with your company’s culture. Unfortunately, that’s not something you can extract from a resume. An enthusiastic cover letter may help, but it does not paint the full picture of who the candidate is as a person, and if you and your team would enjoy bringing her or him in as part of the family.

How else can you evaluate job applicants before bringing them in for an interview?

Visualizing a cultural fit

Todd Silverstein founded Vizify after he identified an opportunity to help individuals “Make a great online impression today.”

Silverstein spoke with more than 200 individuals involved in Human Resources and discovered that their biggest pain point when hiring is finding candidates that fit the firm’s culture.

Vizify allows users to create customizable interactive graphical bios (personal infographics) that extract insights about you from your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Foursquare). Of course, users must first grant permission to link accounts.

Vizify bios highlight essential information about an individual — location, education and work experience — which viewers can drill down on. Recruiters, in just a glance, can easily digest top-level information about a candidate, faster than skimming a resume.

Also, a graphical bio, unlike a resume, tells the story about who the individual is as a person. In addition to demonstrating impressive qualifications, job seekers can demonstrate agreeable character.

Businesses can take full advantage of the platform to recruit better talent. Bios give recruiters a visual representation of who the candidate is personally and professionally to help HR decide if a particular candidate is a proper fit for the firm, and thus, worthy of a callback or interview.

The company is focused on helping users show off their personal brand. According to Silverstein, “we define our mission as helping to make you look awesome online.” He also disclosed that 1/3 of users use their Vizify bios in their job search, adding a link to their bio on their resume and LinkedIn profile.

“We’re a complement to the hiring process…. People deserve just as rich an online presence, identity… as they have offline. When you meet someone at a cocktail party, you don’t go through a dry list of ‘Oh, here’s what I did resume-wise.’ There’s color to it. You talk about places you’ve been, you talk about that holistically.”

Vizify in action

Silverstein uses his graphical bio as a personal website, which features bite sized infographics about the man himself.

What do these say about Silverstein?

His favorite author is Herman Melville, he likes his coffee 8 times a day, and if he could meet one person that has made history, that would be Genghis Khan.

Whether you’re a colleague, investor, Vizify user, or a complete stranger, Silverstein’s bio helps to paint a picture of who he is, and whether or not you two might get along. Mentioning Moby-Dick will surely win you points.

Former Director of Marketing Arwa Jumkawala thinks of her bio as “the place I’d like people to go to if [people] want to hear more, learn more about me because I’ve curated it to tell the exact story that I would like people to see about me.”

Winning with Vizify

Jumkawala’s bio has been particularly useful now that she is a freelance marketing and PR consultant who has to sell her personal brand in addition to her accomplishments, experiences and diverse skill set.

Another advantage of Vizify bios is its SEO-optimized pages. Differentiated names, like Jumkawala’s are certain to rank well in the search results (a Google search for her name puts her bio near the top). In many cases, Silverstein’s included, users may find that their Vizify bios show up above their personal LinkedIn profile and Twitter account. The latest post on the Vizify blog shares tips on how to improve your bio’s rank in Google’s search results.

Although Vizify doesn’t want to be seen as purely a recruiting resource, businesses can always ask job applicants to create a Vizify profile to help identify a proper cultural fit. Recruiters may also Google the applicant’s name and hope the applicant was proactive enough to create a Vizify bio that shows how (s)he would be perfect for the job.

When asked about how Vizify uses bios in its recruiting process, Jumkawala says, “We recently just hired someone to come in to do customer service and they were asked specifically to include their Vizify. We were a little surprised by the number of candidates who still applied without it.”

Absent-minded applicants aside, employers and job seekers have yet to fully adopt Vizify bios as part of the recruiting process. But they would be wise to.

 

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‘Tinder’ presents: An app to discover those around you

'Tinder' presents: An app to discover those around youWhile it’s great to make new friends, meeting people can be awkward and uncomfortable. What will you talk about? Do you share similar interests?

Now there’s an app seeking to bridge the gap between “complete stranger” and “BFF”.

Mobile app Tinder displays short profiles (which include picture, name, age, and shared friends and interests) of people near you and allows you to express interest in making a connection or not. In the app, you can set your “preferences” to be matched with males and/or females, within 2 to 100 miles of your current location (location services enabled), between the ages of 18 and 50+.

If there is mutual interest in the parties getting to know each other, then the app allows both parties to connect, while still maintaining much valued user-privacy. Tinder doesn’t reveal your last name, email, or exact location. In fact, the app doesn’t have access to any more information than your current location and what’s available on your Facebook, and it is incredibly selective about the information it pulls from your account so stalkers and trolls won’t find you.

Once both parties agree to connect, Tinder’s chat feature allows users to send messages (text-only) back-and-forth until they are ready to take the relationship offline. Users can also abandon the conversation altogether and “block” people they don’t want as new friends.

But what about fraud?

Other matchmaking programs are littered with fake accounts of Jessica Alba and Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalikes. Tinder solves that problem by linking to your Facebook account. In a way, this legitimizes the accounts created, presuming users are using their personal Facebook account. Your name and age are taken straight from Facebook, and you choose images for your Tinder profile from your Facebook albums.

In an interview with Issie Lapowsky at Inc. magazine, Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad, shares how the app gained initial traction and grew, “We had been picking up on college campuses, then everyone went home and told their cousins and older brothers and friends about it, and all of a sudden Tinder started growing like a virus.” 

Although Tinder is used almost exclusively as a dating tool, J.J. Colao at Forbes reports Tinder’s intention to expand into business networking. This is ambitious given Tinder’s stigma as a dating app and, of course, users’ superficial nature. But anything is possible.

Let’s hope the app’s evolution brings new possibilities to mobile users who want to meet someone new, and not just for romantic purposes.

Download Tinder for free in the iTunes Store.

 

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Two services and tools to keep up with the growing photo sharing economy

Web and mobile usage trends are moving fast. Really fast.

Consumers are quick to adopt today’s hottest trend, yet are just as undiscerning in abandoning it. Chatroulette anyone?

Now it’s a retro-filtered image of your best friend’s dinner, a cute puppy image, and a LOL-worthy pose.

Yet taking and sharing pictures is anything but a fleeting trend. Remember the big bulky photo albums mom and dad used to pull out to thoroughly embarrass us in front of our friends and relatives? Photos have always been a cherished way of capturing those important moments in our lives.

A presentation by analyst Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers estimates more than 500 million photos are uploaded and shared every day. Her predictions also suggest that number will double year on year.

What does this mean for businesses?

The first takeaway is that funny cat pictures will almost certainly take over the world. But more importantly, companies should look towards photos to further engage with customers and grow.

Brands that have a connected and enthusiastic audience can leverage user-generated photos with services like Pixlee. Brands that also publish photos can make better pictures using Snapseed.

Pixlee

Pixlee Logo

Pixlee, a web-based service, makes it easy for companies to collect fan photos from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media platforms, curate and display them, then measure engagement and drive more traffic and sales.

On Crunchbase, the company says, “Our advanced photo intelligence recommends the best photos to promote and provides valuable market insights into passionate customers.”

After aggregating the photos users have generated related to your brand, Pixlee helps you discover the best ones to share, while measuring social metrics that matter such as “engagements, impressions and ROI.”

To request an invite, sign up on Pixlee’s website.

Snapseed

Snapseed Logo

Snapseed, a mobile app provided by Nik Software, “is one of the most powerful iPhone photo editors out there, with a clever interface to match its power,” according to PC Mag. It’s also available for the iPad and Android smartphones.

Snapseed is tool for everyone. No need to learn advanced Photoshop skills. Instead, use the app to magically transform and share your digital pictures from your mobile devices.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can forget about the cost and time-lag of working with professionals to shoot and tidy up their photos. Finally, you can publish pictures that might even make a Nikon DSLR camera applaud.

With Snapseed, you can make minor edits such as brightening, contrasting, cropping, sharpening, and straightening any image to making localized adjustments and adding filters such as Vintage, Drama and Grunge that you can layer on top of each other. You may keep the original and save the edited copy of your photos.

To download Snapseed for free, visit the iTunes Store or Google Play Store.

 

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Make your (or somebody else’s) side projects happen via Sideprojectors

SideProjectorsIf you’re a creative type, you may have an endless list of world-changing projects that you have brainstormed, blueprinted and prototyped.

If you’re a businessperson, you are probably capable of executing and growing great projects, but are short on things-to-build.

If you fit into either category, you’re soon-to-be in luck.

SideProjectors, formerly a tiny community of creatives and moonlighters who showcased things they were working on or had worked on, is developing a marketplace to buy and sell side projects.

The revamped site is to-be-launched, and promises to be a dead-simple solution for finding “someone who can potentially take over your projects. Alternatively, if you are looking for interesting projects that others have paused on, SideProjectors would be a great place to discover them.”

Keeping side projects alive

Instead of quitting a languishing side project entirely — it’s always difficult to let go — put it up for sale so you can live vicariously through its success or watch it burn in flames knowing at least someone tried.

The entrepreneurial-minded no longer have to start from scratch and can move on from the wannabe stage, ridding themselves of the excuse, “If only I had a great idea…”

Of course, not every side project will become a full-blown business that will launch you into the Wall Street Journal. Many are destined to fail. Some will evolve into completely new ideas.

Side projects are good, but startups are better

Side projects allow creators and developers to build things for fun and feed their entrepreneurial spirits. But there is a caveat: turning a side project into a successful business requires a committed entrepreneur.

David Hauser, founder of Grasshopper writes, “The biggest problem with side projects is that the lack of commitment dilutes the startup talent pool, hurts the side project or startup, and in turn kills great startups from succeeding. If you’re looking to start a business, take some time to consider whether or not you’re ready to be all in.”

That’s where the SideProjectors marketplace intends to help. Not only can it help vet ideas, it can also find that committed entrepreneur that good projects need.

Sign up for an early invitation into the SideProjectors community at its website.

 

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WiseRadar, your startup’s most important newspaper

WiseRadar AppIn the news! Yahoo acquires Qwiki, buys Bignoggins, and will live-stream this year’s Emmy Awards. But wait!

Ask yourself: Should I read this?

Unless you are Google, you probably can’t spare the time because it’s not relevant. For small business owners and entrepreneurs, there’s a new solution for filtering through all the noise in the news to discover the most relevant stories for your business.

Welcome, WiseRadar, “personalized news for the startup world.”

Founded by Jean Friesewinkel, a developer, engineer and former business consultant at Bain & Company, WiseRadar aggregates and curates news about your competitors, customers, and market into a simple, digestible email.

Users start with the first step, which is to “setup your radar.” You add competitors that WiseRadar will help monitor. The list of companies comes from the Crunchbase and AngelList directories, but you can also request to add unlisted businesses. Then, voila! What you do with the competitor news and your extra free time is up to you.

As the co-founder of Blank Label, a luxury menswear company, I decided to sign up for WiseRadar and give it a whirl. After I received beta access, I added nine businesses to my radar (WiseRadar recommends adding ten). Shortly afterwards, I received my first curated email digest.

The email begins with a friendly greeting, “Welcome, Danny! Your radar is up and running.” And then prefaces with:

To make the most of our beta, here are three things you should know:

  1. Morning reports. Your digests will arrive on weekdays at 7am, and will include up to 5 stories relevant to the companies you’ve added.
  2. No noise. We make it a principle to only send relevant stories. But if you don’t receive anything for a while and think you should have, please let us know!
  3. We’re here to help you. You can simply reply to your digests with questions or requests. We’re just getting started, and we’ll always be listening.

Below is your first digest. Enjoy!

The meaty part of the email included links to five stories about companies on my radar.

The first link was the only one that was truly relevant, although outdated — nearly four weeks old. The second story featured a new startup we had never heard of, which I shall soon add to my radar, and briefly mentioned a competitor I listed. The third and the fifth stories mentioned a competitor, but were irrelevant because they featured a business we didn’t care about. The fourth story came with a bad link.

Although my remarks seem critical, the fact is, the companies on my radar have been quiet lately. As a user of Google Alerts, to keep tabs on the competition, I have heard the crickets chirping over the past months.

Tools like WiseRadar, which aim to provide a more sophisticated version of Google Alerts, are important because they minimize the distraction that comes from too much news.

I am a reformed news junkie. When I first fell in love with startups back in 2009, I read every-and-any article TechCrunch published. And I was busier than I ever could have imagined. But being busy isn’t the same as being productive.

Getting caught up in the hype of news is one of the biggest traps small business owners and entrepreneurs fall into that leads to massive bouts of non-productivity. (Email is another.)

People, small business owners and entrepreneurs especially, are an emotional breed. We are attracted to news that shocks or ‘wows’ us. For this reason, catchy headlines from Mashable and picture slideshows from Business Insider easily fill up an afternoon that could have otherwise been used towards creating real value. When I came to this realization, I deleted the bookmarks on my web browser and started doing real work.

Simply put, read less news. You’ll be happier, and your business will thank you.

For beta access, apply with your LinkedIn at the WiseRadar website.

 

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Uninterrupted Work Flow in 3 Virtual Offices over 3 Different Continents

Working Around the WorldImagine working on your laptop in a coffee shop where the barista only speaks Mandarin.

Living in Shanghai, China is unlike any other experience. But working in a foreign country doesn’t necessarily have to be so different.

At least, if you can set up a virtual work station, you won’t ever have to worry about adapting to new office dynamics. Work whenever you want, however you want.

The must-haves are a comfortable work space, a reliable internet connection, and your data backed up to the cloud.

China. Argentina. Morocco.

At times, the air and noise pollution in Shanghai got to me. As did the communication barriers.

But whenever I needed to get some important work done, I just had to pay for a nice cup of coffee before I could begin pounding away at my keyboard, tuning out the foreign world around me while increasing my productivity.

When I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, there was WiFi everywhere, and in some cases, it was free. WiFi was available in bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and even public parks and plazas.

Then, after a day’s worth of hard work, I’d gorge on empanadas baked in the shop around the corner, or several slices of “fugazetta” pizza from local gem, El Cuartito.

Around Morocco, you can find a strong connection at McDonald’s. But when the popular fast food chain is out of sight, the big telecom providers offer contract-free Internet connections. Meditel offers a portable USB key that lets you connect your computer to its 3G network all around the country. Best of all, it’s cheap and it’s prepaid.

Keeping Security in Mind

Whenever I was on the road, whether I was traveling between Shanghai and Beijing or crossing the border from Argentina to Uruguay, I always made sure my laptop was wiped clean of any sensitive data and that those critical files were only available in the cloud.

Bag, laptop, passport, and wallet stolen. 

I have been fortunate enough that I have never been robbed or pick-pocketed while traveling. Knock on wood. But a friend I was traveling with once had her bag stolen out from under her seat at a Starbucks in Buenos Aires. The worst part was that she had kept her laptop, passport, and wallet in that very bag.

Throughout my travels, for personal and professional purposes, I’ve made it a point to keep important documents and possessions in secure places (i.e. passport and credit cards in the hotel safe, or sensitive work documents in a reliable cloud server). So, if I was robbed or mugged, it wouldn’t be a total inconvenience. Or if my computing and mobile devices got damaged, at least my work would be safe.

 

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Cleaning up your life with digital feng shui

Feng Shui RocksIt’s hard to let go, believe me.

I’ve clung onto files I’ll never use with the firm belief that they’ll be useful one day.

I’m totally gonna need that A+ essay I wrote in 10th grade on “Six Characters in Search of an Author” as a professional writing sample! 

Really?!

I can’t even remember what folder I’ve stuffed it in on my laptop from high school. Needless to say, it’s somewhere in PC purgatory.

Now if that laptop stops working, that essay I was so proud of will be lost forever. When my laptop finally does stop functioning, it will likely be because it has decided to retire itself after the four years of abuse I put it through during high school and the additional five years it has survived my father’s torture.

The truth is, my writing has (hopefully) improved beyond a 10th-grade writing level, so there’s no need for me to reference any essay that’s more than a few years old. But what about my more recent written pieces, or those incredibly important files that I absolutely must cling onto for the rest of my life?

I can’t just cross my fingers hoping that if I treat my current laptop well, it — along with all my precious files — will stay with me for a lifetime.

While it hasn’t failed me yet, I used to hate my computer.

Folders filled with documents I don’t use. Works I can’t remember authoring. Drafts that should never see the light of day.

It’s a mess.

I realized all the unorganized files I kept scattered around my desktop interrupted my workflow and put me in a bad mood every time I just looked at them.

To create peace of mind, I uploaded everything I owned to a cloud server and deleted anything that wasn’t created recently or part of an on-going project to maintain a clean, uncluttered desktop.

I no longer have thousands of files glaring at me on my PC. I can flexibly manage all of my files in the cloud and never have to worry about clogging up my hard drive. My computer also runs smoother now that there’s less ‘junk’ it has to put up with.

Let’s get cleaning!

If any of this resonates with you, here’s how you can start cleaning up your digital life:

First, locate all the files you have on your computer that you wouldn’t mind relocating. Second, get rid of anything you no longer need — stop being so clingy! Finally, take whatever is left, and move it to your new cloud server.

For a small monthly fee, you save yourself a ton of headaches and stress never having to look at a cluttered desktop again. There is also an added benefit of having easy access to your files on any electronic device with a solid internet connection.

Digital feng shui is good.

For some, it’s a ritual to open your own computer and know exactly where your files are kept and stored. For me, it was a nightmare to turn on my laptop and look at the mess I had accumulated.

But now I can hop on any computer, access my files anywhere and everywhere, and since I’ve organized all of my files after uploading them to the cloud, I can pull up any document I need within seconds and am ready to rock-n-roll.

 

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How the Cloud Makes Travel Easy

I’ve climbed the Great Wall in Beijing, China. I’ve played with elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’ve swam the shores of Punta del Este, Uruguay. And I’ve wandered the concrete jungle that is Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a seasoned traveler, I thought I knew it all.

Backpack, check. Clothes, check. Digital camera, check.

I’ve been in towns where no one spoke English and I didn’t speak the local language (at least not competently). I had to learn how to navigate big cities and small villages, and most importantly, how to find my way back to wherever I was staying. I’ve even run out of money.

How the Cloud makes travel easier

Phrasebook, map, $20 bill stashed so secretly, I remembered it only when desperate times called for desperate measures.

I’ve also survived violent food poisoning and getting hit by a car.

While I have most of these moments committed to memory (I mean, who can forget getting hit by a car?!), it’s not the easiest task to recall each story one-by-one and articulately share the play-by-play.

One camera. One memory card. 

When I’m off on a trip, I prefer to pack as light as possible. A light backpack that’s comfortable and secure. Enough clothes and underwear to last me the whole trip, or a few days worth so I have time to find a nearby laundromat. A camera to capture all those crazy moments.

After a day’s worth of hiking, city wandering, or people watching, my camera would blink, warning me it’s almost at full capacity. Once home, at my hotel/hostel, or friend-of-a-friend’s couch, I would use whatever computer was available (or find the nearest digital cafe) and upload my hundreds of photos and tens of outrageous videos to the cloud.

No need to lug around my own computer. No need for a bulky hard drive, or any of those easily forgotten flash drives.

I just needed a solid internet connection and a computer for no more than 30 minutes until I was the envy of all my family and friends back home.

Using cloud storage, I am able to minimize the number of things I have to pack when traveling. I also never have to fuss over breaking or losing any costly devices other than my camera, which is practically attached to me except when I’ve asked a friend or stranger to help me capture one more memory from my travels.

Best of all, when I return home, I never have to worry about the photos and videos taking up too much local storage space or getting lost in the overwhelming litter of files I can’t seem to organize or get rid of.

So, when I’m sitting in front of my laptop, right before I pull out all of my hair because I can’t locate ‘forgot-your-name file’ in the ‘not-a-clue folder,’ I cross my fingers hoping my internet won’t act up on me again, go to my cloud server, and meditate reminiscing about that tranquil afternoon at the Moroccan bath.

 

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