Swiftly – kick your expensive designer in the butt

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 in Interesting | 0 comments

Swiftly – kick your expensive designer in the butt

Swiftly is a new site and service from 99designs that helps customers get small design tasks done quickly and effortlessly. Customers simply upload a design file they need altered to Swiftly.com, pay a $15 fee, and get their completed project back in 24 hours or less. Each project is completed by an experienced member of Swiftly’s design community.

“Swiftly grew out of our awareness that many people don’t know where to turn for a quick graphic design project, either because they don’t employ in-house designers or their designers are tied up with more substantial projects,” said 99designs Chief Technology Officer Lachlan Donald, who led the team that developed Swiftly. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to develop a totally new service that fulfills a real need for customers and gives freelance designers another way to make money. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

swiftly-99designs

 

Swiftly designers are a curated group from 99designs’ community of more than 240,000 graphic designers in 192 countries. 99designs staff hand-selected these designers based on their design skill and hours of availability to ensure rapid turnaround 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Typical uses of Swiftly include altering logos, business cards, banner ads, marketing templates and icons; retouching, cropping and resizing photos; and vectorizing images. The process is fast and easy: customers simply upload design files, indicate the modifications required, and pay a flat $15 fee. A member of the Swiftly designer community claims the “task,” completes it, and delivers it to the customer within a few hours. After the customer reviews and approves the task, Swiftly facilitates handover of the design files to the customer and issues payment to the designer.

Can you use Google and Amazon Launder your Money?

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Can you use Google and Amazon Launder your Money?

Proverbs 16:8 “Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.” NLT

Money laundering is the process of concealing illicit sources of money to make it appear like legitimately earned money. Money which is evidently the proceeds of a crime is referred to as “dirty” money, and money which has been “laundered” to appear legitimate is referred to as “clean” money. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. In 1996, the International Monetary Fund estimated that two to five percent of the worldwide global economy involved laundered money.

Life insurance products used to be used to facilitate money laundering. For example, currency can be used to purchase one or more life insurance policies, which may subsequently be quickly canceled by a policyholder (also known as “early surrender”) for a penalty and a check is issued from the insurance company.

A typical modern day money-laundering scenario: (1) Make numerous below-the-radar deposits to accounts in different banks. (2) Consolidate the funds via wire transfer in a single account in, say, Tampa. (3) Wire that to a London bank. (4) Convert the funds to certificates of deposit. (5) Use those as collateral for a loan from a bank in the Cayman Islands. (6) Transfer the loan proceeds back to your front company in Tampa. Result: a confusing trail for the feds to follow, most of it electronic, with no need for small unmarked bills or other crime-fiction cliches. The only problem with an electronic trail is that there is an electronic trail of transfers and the fees associated with each step.

Lets say you have a stolen art piece and want to receive $1,000,000 in compensation. The buyer could open a Google Adwords account and bid on clicks for products on Amazon with the outbound link containing your Amazon affiliate ID. If you were able to have a click that costs $1 return $.70 in commission you would be will within traditional money laundering fees. The sales would be attributed to your account which you could receive a direct deposit from Amazon into an of your specification every 30 days.

I can not imaging how anyone could track who paid for a Google Adword advertisement and the incoming link to an Amazon affiliate account. Thoughts?

TEDx Boise

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Featured Projects, Projects | 0 comments

TEDx Boise

Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

Top 10 Deal of the Day sites for Merchants

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Interesting | 0 comments

Top 10 Deal of the Day sites for Merchants

Like many other merchants out there I was wondering which deal of the day sites would bring in the most value to my business. After taking into account the split and volume of sales these are the best deal sites in the order of profitablility they generated for YourStarForever.com;

#1 DealChicken.com (more sales than on Groupon Goods)
#2 Groupon.com/goods
#3 Eversave.com
#4 NoMoreRack.com
#5 CBS.com (they can syndicate your deal on Amazon Local and Google Offers)
#6 Totsy.com/Mamasource.com
#7 Bundlebuy.com (a Hart Ventures subsidiary, we retain 90% of the sale)
#8 PlumDistrict.com
#9 Tippr.com
#10 SpottedFox.com

We have also run on the following; CrowdCrave.com, DealSaver.com, HalfOffDepot.com, KSL.com, KGB.com, and MadDeal.com. We are still working to be featured on LivingSocial.com, Google.com/offers, and Amazon.com/local.

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 1.00.50 PMEric and Oscar at Center Link Media made all the difference in the success of YourStarForever.com. Within the first 45 days they were able to get our deal placed on 10 of the top 15 deals sites resulting in over $100,000 in sales. Our company is now the industry leader in online star dedications because of them. Eric and Oscar are very well connected in the deal industry and can get a deal featured quickly with their blanket contracts they already have in place with the deal sites. They are excellent at staying in communication and returned my emails promptly. I would recommend their services to anyone wholeheartedly and enthusiastically.

6

Low Tech Certified

Posted by on Oct 31, 2012 in Business Idea | 0 comments

Low Tech Certified

A professor of mine once told me that when he was serving in Vietnam he would receive audio tapes with messages from his family on them. His elderly grandma did not understand the tape recorder and would talk in a loud monotonous voice and had trouble communicating her message. His family ended up handing her a telephone handset and asking her to talk into it (secretly placing the tape recorder close by). They catered to her technology comfort level and met here at the extend of the technology she was willing/able to adopt.

Pick up any product ant you will see several marketing labels on it… Non-GMO, USB 3.0, Fair Trade Certified. Well, I have an idea for a new label. Rather than targeting the technology  adopters, go after the 16% of tech laggers. The label would say “Low-Tech” and the goal would be to make them comfortable and more likely to buy an item marketed to their demographic. For example, a non-smart phone, a plug and play DVR or TV, or even a laptop. 

 

Wikipedia: The technology adoption lifecycle model describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups. The process of adoption over time is typically illustrated as a classical normal distribution or “bell curve.” The model indicates that the first group of people to use a new product is called “innovators,” followed by “early adopters.” Next come the early and late majority, and the last group to eventually adopt a product are called “laggards.”

Tom Morse Brown

Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Tom Morse Brown

Having a great designer in your rolodex is a wonderful feeling and a great asset, especially when they have the quality of catching a vision and representing it graphically. It feels great to be able to refer them to others and know they will make you proud.

Earlier this year I was referred by a missionary friend of mine to Tom who has done some pro-bono work for them. I checked out his portfolio at TomMorseBrown.com and he did some preliminary work for me to try and win my account.

I was impressed with his portfolio and his Design Awards and decided to hire Tom to design my marketing materials, website, iphone application, and refine my brand. Tom was professional, affordable, quick, and was able to take my feedback and exceed my expectations. We worked out three milestones with respective payments and executed a contract.

We used DropBox.com to share files back and forth, deliver drafts, and transfer the final design files. If you stay under 2 GB it is free and you can view files on your mobile phone, desktop, or laptop. it will even automatically back up and sync the files across all your devices.

The project spanned 3 months and over 150 hours of design time, culminating in the finished product seen below. I was so happy with his work that I offer to post a glowing review on my website and promote it on our social media channels. If you end up working with Tom please let me know and leave your comments on this post after the fact.

Announcing CrowninTown.com

Posted by on Sep 4, 2012 in Businesses | 0 comments

Announcing CrowninTown.com

We are pleased to announce the launch of CrowninTown.com in November of this year. Hart Ventures has partnered with Devon Dickinson, Tom Morse Brown, VistaPrint, and Scott Dahl to create a nation wide network of local business awards.

Crown in Town helps businesses market themselves to their community. Businesses compete to be “crowned” the best in their city for what they do. Each voter who casts a vote receives a special offer given by the business such as a free menu item or discount on a purchase. The voter who recruits the most other voters wins a grand prize from the business, which is a free product or service for a year; such as a free tax return filing, free sushi once a month or free coffee once a week. Crown in Town uses gamifcation to engage users to complete challenges and level up to increase their chances of winning the King’s Bounty. Hey business owner… Is your business best?

We employ a freemium model, where it is free to compete and free to win and there is the option to upgrade for premium features ($17/month or $150/year). If you want to give out a Special Offer to voters or incentify them to promote you by offering a Prize to your top promoter then you must upgrade your business account. Upgrading also allows you to count voter check-ins towards your total vote count as well as order custom VOTE-FOR-US marketing materials. Upgraded accounts can also send a message to their voters a limited number of times during the competition via email and push notifications on their mobile device.

Check us out on facebook or sign up here to be notified of our launch.

Snag your Microsoft Tag

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Snag your Microsoft Tag

Search for “Microsoft Tag” in the app store and try scanning my tag. Create your own here.

 

 

Microsoft Tag vs QR Code

Chargify vs Seed Edition

Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Businesses | 0 comments

Chargify vs Seed Edition

Recently the Hart Ventures team began working on our next start up, Crown in Town. One of the decisions we were faced with was whether to build our own CC processing system to charge for subscriptions or to integrate with a 3rd party vendor. We priced the development hours and decided on the latter. We began researching Chargify, Recurly, CheddarGetter and evaluated the pros and cons.

Then we heard of Seed Edition. I spoke on the phone with one of the Seed Edition founders, and he told me about their incredible product and offered to let me demo it for FREE up to $1,000,000 in transactions. Wow! What a stroke of luck. We were planning on hiring Chargify and with their upcoming 30-40% price increase we will save in excess of $4,000 ($140-$420/month) by choosing Seed Edition. Seed Edition is smart in investing in future partners to up-sell additional features that will eventually be needed  such as accounting integration. Click here to sign up and request a free beta.

Objections to Stock Dilution

Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Business Advice | 0 comments

Objections to Stock Dilution

This last week I flew down to Los Angeles to pitch a new start up within the Hart Ventures portfolio to a group of investors.

I was presenting the ask for a certain amount in exchange for 10% of the company. The objection was raised that when the second round was raised that their stock would be diluted.

The correct way to look at it would be to consider the projected valuation at the time of the second round, which is 2.5x’s Round 1. Their stock would be diluted but it would also be worth 2.5x as much.

The point is dilution is not the true measure of the value of an investment, the measure is the upcoming pre-money valuation of the next round.