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Hukkster: The Future of Discounted, Online Clothes Shopping

Hukkster HomepagePeople who enjoy fashion know their favorite designer brands. So, when sites like Gilt, Rue La La, and Haute Look offer heavily discounted deals from Rag & Bone, John Varvatos, and Jack Spade, for instance, buyers tend to, well, buy. Yet even though these sites are extremely successful, in most cases, the discounted items are not necessarily the popular designs featured in the company’s flagship locations on 5th Avenue or SoHo. If anything, they’re more like sample sale items.

But that is not to say that even the most yearned-after paisley tie from Brooks Brothers is never heavily discounted. For one reason or another, popular clothing companies will mark down normally-priced items on their online stores, but might not advertise the discount to the public. More importantly, there’s a good chance these discounted items will never be placed on popular “deal” sites.

So aside from incessantly checking online stores, how else would a prospective consumer easily find out about the discount? The answer: Hukkster.

The difference between all these established, mainstream online shopping websites and Hukkster is that Hukkster isn’t trying to spam discounts you would never buy in the first place. The online tool, which was founded Katie Finnegan and Erica Bell, and financed by the famed Winklevoss twins, simply tracks products you personally select, and notifies you via email when they go on sale.

“Online deals are being pushed to people today in a very untargeted method,”said Cameron to Time.com. He explained that Hukkster aims to empower retailers to target their deals and shoppers to find exactly what they want.

Hukkster is designed for a user-friendly experience. A prospective “Hukker” can sign-into the site using either their GMail or Facebook account, and simply drag the “Hukk It” tool into her browser’s toolbar. When a user stumbles upon a desired article of clothing, she can press the “Hukk It” tool, and seamlessly add to her “My Hukks.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Hukkster has amassed more than 2,000 active monthly users. About a quarter of its users are men. Among these beta users, Hukkster’s founders report that 90% of them open Hukkster email notifications and at least 60% click through to look at the items on sale.”

Hukkster acts in real time too, so as soon as your designed belt, button-down, or dress pant goes on sale, a user is immediately notified.

The new online shopping tool not only just poses to save people a lot of money on clothes they actually want, but also, could revolutionize how consumers shop on the internet.

 

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Striiv: An App That Turns Exercise into an Interactive Game

The business of trying to make exercise a fun activity is not for the faint of heart. Nintendo tried it with its famous Power Pad accessory back in 1988, but while the game itself was fun, it was hardly the calorie-buster it advertised. From the other end of the spectrum, infomercials have been pushing all kinds of unintentionally hilarious “can’t miss” products, inventions better suited for generating YouTube views than sales.

Smartphone apps look to be the new frontier of making exercise fun. Striiv is the latest innovator attempting to turn exercise into an interactive game, this time for a new generation of technology.

Striiv hopes to avoid the fate of the Hawaii Chair by not trying to re-invent exercise or guarantee a six-pack. Instead, the smartphone app just accurately calculates the exercise you take for granted–like your daily walk from the train to work–and motivates you to do more of it by handing out awards and prizes. It might seem like a challenge to make exercising as addictive as, say, World of Warcraft, but luckily for Striiv, one WoW’s visionaries is part of the team.

Below is an interview with Lexy Franklin and Melanie Joskel, two members of the Striiv’s marketing team:

What is Striiv?

Striiv is a Smart Pedometer that counts every step you take throughout the day and motivates you to walk a lot more. Striiv goes beyond tracking and gets you active with personalized challenges, activity based games, and competitions.

What was the original thought process behind creating a Striiv gadget as opposed to just focusing on an app?

There are many people who prefer a separate, discrete device to carry around with them. Striiv Play lets people track their activity, even when their iPhone isn’t on them. It also has a high-precision altimeter to count stairs and is a great option for people who want to extend the battery life on their phone. The original Striiv Smart Pedometer is a standalone device with its own color touchscreen. It is great for people who want a one-stop solution, no smartphone required.

When was the app launched? How many app downloads have there been?

The app launched on October 16th. We haven’t announced our download totals, but we are very excited about how quickly the community is growing and how engaged Striiv users are.

Who are Striiv’s main competitors?

There are other companies like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband, but they are focused on tracking activity in charts and graphs. Striiv is really different because we go beyond tracking and we focus on motivating you to be more active by making fitness fun and social.

What makes Striiv different?

It really is the Striiv experience that sets it apart. Striiv is unique in that it uses games, your social network, and tailored challenges to inspire you to be more active. We are laser-focused on making fitness as fun as possible. Striiv’s Trumotion technology assures our users that the steps they take everyday are being counted and are real. There are no false steps in the car for example, which you see with many other pedometers.

When look at the landscape of fitness devices and apps, everything is based on just measuring your activity. It’s charts, graphs, and more graphs. At Striiv, we really are the fun guys. We take our background in designing video games to turn every step you take in a part of a game. Our goal is to inspire users to get up from their computers or TVs and walk, not because they feel like they should, but because they are trying to play a game to grow a plant or walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our mission is to make fitness fun and accessible for millions of people.

What kinds of awards and prizes can Striiv users get? Are there future plans to forge partnerships with mainstream companies for more alluring prizes?

We believe that one of the best ways to motivate people to move is to walk for someone else’s benefit. Striiv’s original Smart Pedometer counts every step taken toward a donation to charity, at no cost to its users. Users can earn real world prizes like Climbing the Eiffel Tower or Burning a Cupcake. They can also compete against their friends’ daily averages and personal best.

We are always looking at interesting partnerships that will bring a better or more rewarding experience to our users. We have already begun a great partnership with MyFitnessPal to bring nutrition tracking capabilities to the Striiv experience and we will continue to find partners that can help us motivate our community to get active.

 Where do you see Striiv in five years?

In five years, we see Striiv as the platform you go to in order to walk with your friends all over the world. We want empower millions of people, just like you, to feel like the best versions of themselves.

 

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FanCloud.com: You Pay Them to Write

Fancloud.comThe Internet has both provideth and taketh paid writing opportunities from writers. While many sites rightfully pay their freelance writers (the latter usually by word-count, experience, expertise, etc…), other sites, like Huffington Post, famously do not. Yet, despite the amount of flack non-paying web sites get from the writing world, FanCloud.com, a sports news outlet, is attempting to go where no site has gone before. They’re proposing that interested bloggers actually pay them to write for FanCloud. Yes, you read that correctly.

For a “lifetime membership,” prospective writers have to pay the site’s founders fifty dollars, enabling them to publish anything from “Who Should Close for the New York Mets in 2013″ to “An In-Depth Look at My Son’s Pee-Wee Hockey Team.” But, there is some incentive to write articles closer to the former.

According to the site’s “publishing” section:

“As a member of FanCloud Publishing, you will have the opportunity to be rewarded with equity for reaching certain milestones. Through these milestones we are committed to giving away 49% of our publishing division to our members by the end of the first year. Each month FC Publishing will give away 16 awards of .25% equity (for a total of 4% equity) in the company for milestones achieved. There is no limit to the amount of equity any one writer can earn.”

Before you writers/potential shareholders start dreaming about cashing in your stock and buying that house in Hilton Head, keep in mind that certain “milestones” first have to be reached. For instance, FanCloud lists: most unique pages views across all of an author’s content, highest average article rating, most unique views for a single article, most articles published, lowest visitor bounce rate, and most comments as prerequisites to earning any shares of the company. Not only are these goals a bit on the ambiguous side, but also, it would take a heck of a lot of time and energy for a writer–one who is most likely juggling a variety of jobs that pay in a real currency–to make this offer worth its while.

But, for a moment, let’s say you’re an aspiring sportswriter, you have no other job (and no life expenses either), and simply cannot land a paying gig. Based on your disposition and aspirations, you decide to make it your sole priority to become FanCloud’s most prolific blogger, and subsequently, its greatest non-founding shareholder. There’s just one remaining question then: “What exactly do minimal shares in a identifiably-profitable company entitle you to?” It’s a valid question.

Usually when you’re in-line to become a minor, medium, or major investor in a company, it is standard procedure to have access to said company’s financials. Yet, the only impressive number listed by FanCloud is the supposed twenty-two million visitors per month the Yardbarker Network averages. While FanCloud is a subsidiary of Yardbarker (which is owned by Fox Sports), the popular blogging umbrella is home to blogs for every single team in just about every sport known to humankind. Yardbarker might collectively enjoy the viewer-ship of twenty-two million visitors per month, but there’s little-to-no analytical proof that FanCloud will see even a small fraction of that. So not only does FanCloud have to compete with mainstream giants like ESPN or CBS Sportsline (and a plethora more), but it even has to compete with other similar sites within its own umbrella.

The final variable to weighing FanCloud’s potential success as a sports news outlet comes down to the quality of writing the site will offer its potential readers. If literally anyone (and their mother) could be a writer, how will there be any quality control? Even though sports enthusiasts vary in intellectual expectations for written content, it is unlikely that the model “written for sports fans, by sports fan” will generate a compelling enough grass roots campaign to oust the most mainstream, and non-stat-heavy giants like ESPN’s and CBS Sportsline’s of the world.

Even in the case of Huffington Post, which has both paid staff writers and unpaid contributing bloggers, there is good reason the news-mammoth has such a rigid payment ideology. According to Nate Silver’s article The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post, Huffington Post’s paid political articles receive twenty times more comments than the unpaid political articles. Since Silver uses “comments” as a means to roughly determine the site’s page views (as Huffington Post does not release its page view numbers to the public), Silver’s analysis exposes that the average reader is a heck of a lot more likely to read an article by a paid writer than an unpaid writer; perhaps insinuating that most readers still tend to gravitate towards articles of greater quality (or unfortunately, of “celebrity” status).

There is no doubt that FanCloud will face an uphill battle to discover top-shelf writing talent and the big readership needed to retain that talent. But then again, those who thought Huffington Post’s ideology was too iconoclastic to become successful saw that publication laugh all the way to the bank.

 

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Paperweight Magazine: The First Ever App-Only Humor Source

Paperweight - A Moderately Cultured Humor MagazinePeople like laughing, and people also like apps. So when comedians/entrepreneurs Chris Duffy and Brian Perry announced the creation of Paperweight Magazine, a comedy magazine app, it seemed like a logical endeavor–not the potentially revolutionary one it might become. Despite there being a plethora of humor-inspired apps and mainstream comedy newspapers, magazines, and websites, there isn’t an app that is solely devoted to hilarious written word. This is what makes Paperweight Magazine so exciting–there is literally nothing like it.

Unlike McSweeney’s or CollegeHumor, which started as a print journal and a website, respectively, and were subsequently forced to generate tablet-friendly versions to keep up with the times, Paperweight Magazine is app-first. In fact, there will be no Paperweight Magazine website (or print version, for that matter). But this is all intentional. “The biggest advantage we see to creating an app versus a website is that it allows for more interactive possibilities,” said Chris Duffy, who is Paperweight’s head writer and editor. “It allows our pieces to have more of the reader’s focus and not resort to cheap bits to keep someone’s attention from wandering every half a second.” Even though apps are certainly the wave of the near future, Duffy did admit that “figuring out how content can be shared socially [is] something that we’re working on right now,” and could be an initial challenge.

Social sharing hurdles aside, Duffy and Perry are confident that embracing the app format will separate Paperweight Magazine from what seems to be a saturated comedy market. “We’re focused on building an app that bridges the divide between static articles and interactive content,” said Brian Perry, who is the lead developer. “We’ll have articles and cartoons, but we’ll also have pieces that could never exist on a web page or in a printed magazine. Great humor contains an element of surprise and we’re building a magazine that will surprise readers with its capabilities. It’s going to be a magazine that can talk back to you.”

But Paperweight Magazine isn’t quite a reality yet, as it is still looking to raise the proper funds via Kickstarter to get it off the ground. The good news is that the app magazine is just a week-plus into its fund-raising effort, and has already accumulated more than 79% of its target goal ($11,839 of $15,000). With 15 days to go, it’s a good bet that Paperweight Magazine will raise the full $15,000 (or more), and Duffy and Perry will finally see their dream come true.

Follow Paperweight Magazine on Twitter at @PaperweightMag or on Facebook here.

 

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