Archive by Author - Susan Bratton

Europreneur Secrets- Favorite Web Aps from Ann Cotton, Camfed

by on November 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Favorite Web Aps of European Entrepreneurs I met during the Traveling Geeks Trip.

This is seventh in a series where I take JD Lasica’s meme “Coolest Power Tools” on a “spin” to see not what our US geeks are using, but what our European Brethren find as their favorite aps. This has been a really popular series with my blog readers. It’s fun to learn about new aps and see that some of our favorites are highly used in the UK and now in Africa too.

Camfed

Here is a list of “geek tools” from Ann Cotton, the amazing, beautiful, powerful woman who started and is executive director of Camfed. (more…)

(From an original article by Susan Bratton)
 

Europreneur Secrets – Scan Biz Cards with Your Mobile: Jack Lang

by on August 21, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Favorite Web Aps of European Entrepreneurs from Traveling Geeks Trip

The geeks are digging up some fun new things which may be new to you.

Jack Lang #WDYDWYD?I’ve queried some of my favorite new friends from Amsterdam, London and Cambridge about the tools they love. Here’s the fifth response, from Jack Lang, EIR at University of Cambridge, Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor. Jack is also the author of  “The High Tech Entrepreneur’s Handbook.” (more…)

Europreneur Secrets – Favorite Web Aps of European Entrepreneurs- Andraz Tori

by on August 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm
Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

This is fourth in a series where I take JD Lasica’s meme “Coolest Power Tools” on a “spin” to see not what our US geeks are using, but what our European Brethren find as their favorite aps. They are digging up some fun new things which may be new to you.

I’ve queried some of my favorite new friends from Amsterdam, London and Cambridge about the tools they love. (more…)

Europreneur Secrets – Favorite Web Aps of European Entrepreneurs- Alan Moore

by on August 20, 2009 at 7:02 pm

This is third in a series where I take JD Lasica’s meme “Coolest Power Tools” on a “spin” to see not what our US geeks are using, but what our European Brethren find as their favorite aps. They are digging up some fun new things which may be new to you.

Alan MooreI’ve queried some of my favorite new friends from Amsterdam, London and Cambridge about the tools they love. Here’s the third response, from Alan Moore, Founder of Small Medium Large ExtraLarge Limited.

Alan Moore

(more…)

Europreneur Secrets – Favorite Web Aps of European Entrepreneurs- Andy Hobsbawn

by on August 20, 2009 at 1:01 am

This is second in a series where I take JD Lasica’s meme “Coolest Power Tools” on a “spin” to see not what our US geeks are using, but what our European Brethren find as their favorite aps.

Andy HobsbawmI’ve queried some of my favorite new friends from Amsterdam, London and Cambridge about the tools they love. Here’s the second response, from Andy Hobsbawm, Co-founder of Green Thing. (more…)

Europreneur Secrets – Favorite Web Aps of European Entrepreneurs from Traveling Geeks Trip #TG2009

by on August 18, 2009 at 12:45 am
Klaas Wiema and Mathys van Abbe

Klaas Wiema and Mathys van Abbe

This is first in a series where I take JD Lasica’s meme “Coolest Power Tools” on a “spin” to see not what our US geeks are using, but what our European Brethren find as their favorite aps. (more…)

Social Listening, Appvertising and “Give to Get” – Social Influence Strategies for Marketers

by on July 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I spoke on a panel at the University of Cambrigdge as part of my Traveling Geeks blogger junket earlier this month.

The panel was entitled: “Energizing your Business through Social Networks” plus Show & Tell How businesses should be using social media/ social influencing marketing
An interactive event led by Omobono and created by East of England
TG Panel:Robert Scoble, Susan Bratton, Renee Blodgett & JD Lasica

Here’s a clip taken by Jim “Sky” Schuyler of me talking about how companies can get involved in social media. Thanks go to @ShivSingh of Razorfish for coining the term Social Influence Marketing and to Lorrie Thomas of Web Marketing Therapy for bringing to my attention the importance of Give to Get in the social sphere. Both are recent DishyMix show guests and the links to their excellent interviews are below.

Here is the clip Sky took and and his blog post about it.

Image of Shiv Singh from Twitter
Image of Shiv Singh

Shiv Singh, Razorfish on the Social Influence Marketing, the Portable Social Graph and Friendsters

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Image of Lorrie Thomas from Twitter
Image of Lorrie Thomas

Lorrie Thomas, Web Marketing Therapy on Chill Pills, Give to Gain and the Four Agreements

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DishyMix: Susan Bratton Podcasts & Blogs Famous Executives 2009-07-20 20:22:12

by on July 20, 2009 at 8:22 pm
Image representing BaseKit as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

One of the most impressive companies with whom I met earlier this month in England on the Traveling Geeks tour was Basekit. Founded by three Welshman and now being headed by Juan Lobato, Basekit is an evolutionary step in technology for web designers and developers. Basekit is a web site builder and content management system; a better way to create web sites. It is a live online (cloud hosted) browser based application that enables the creation, deployment and management of dynamic CMS web sites for businesses.

Basekit Executives

Basekit Executives

Their are many template-drive and drag and drop form builders as part of the application, but the process that allows a designer to import photoshop (.psd) files directly into Basekit to create a ‘template’ seems to me to be the most valuable and time saving attribute of this very helpful site creation tool. Now a designer doesn’t need to code their designs into html / css templates – Basekit does it all for them. Users can then access the CSS / HTML from within Basekit (if they wish), once Basekit has transformed their design into a flexible web template.

Here’s my Q&A with Richard Best.

Tell me a little about yourself and how you founded Basekit :
Basekit – head office in Chepstow, South Wales.
Simon Best ( CTO & co-founder ) – age 30, Welsh.
Richard Best ( Commercial Director & co-founder ) – age 33, Welsh.
Richard Healy ( Lead Developer & co-founder ) – age 27, English.
Juan Lobato ( CEO ) – age 36, Spanish.
Simon and Richard Best set up their first web tech business in 2002 – with Richard Healy joining in 2003. The 3 of us went into business together in 2005, setting up a web agency which worked both on internal web tech projects and external SME web site projects.
Juan joined the team at the start of April 2009, bringing commercial management experience mixed with an additional injection of entrepreneurial flair.
We started to develop the Basekit concept in 2006. The Basekit concept was founded out of our experiences building web sites for SME businesses. We noticed that many of the small business sites we created for customers had very similar features, and the vision of BaseKit was to make it really simple to build these sites. We initially developed Basekit with a view to using it internally; but quickly realised its potential as a product in its own right.
Having developed a working prototype, we entered Seedcamp 2008 and ended up as one of 7 winners out of some 400 European web tech companies. Since then we have secured investment from 2 top European VC’s, and grown the company from 3, to 8 full time employees.
We are looking forward to launching our public Beta in September 2009.

Note: If you are a US web designer/developer and interested in being involved in the private beta, send an email to me at susan at personallifemedia dot com and I’ll introduce you to Richard.
Where did you get the idea? How has the product evolved today from your original concept?
We created BaseKit out of our belief that typical web 2.0 development should be quick and easy, and should not require complex coding skills. The idea sprung from our desire to complete more web site projects, in less time – without compromising quality. By moving the focus away from coding, Basekit users are able to focus on the visual aesthetic qualities of their web projects – making them look better, and work better.
Traditional web development processes are disjointed and convoluted – and surprisingly ‘offline’. We believe web sites (of all things) should be created ‘in the web’.
The Basekit product has evolved from an early prototype (taken to Seedcamp 2008) – which despite displaying some impressive qualities and results, had a very steep learning curve. We now have a much more rounded product, with a highly intuitive and easy to use interface. We have focused a lot of attention on usability – and consistently score higher in usability tests than our closest competitors.

Describe the Basekit service.

Basekit is a state of the art web site builder and content management system; a better way to create web sites. It is a live online (cloud hosted) browser based application that enables the creation, deployment and management of dynamic CMS web sites for businesses. It has been described as, ‘a web builder with an injection of superjuice’!
Basekit will enable users to go further without code than ever before – without compromising flexibility.


Tell us how it works.

It works via an intuitive point and click, drag n drop interface making the creation and management of functional and dynamic business web sites quicker and easier. The ‘coding’ elements are taken care of by Basekit, and become trivial – therefore the user is able to focus on the design / layout of the web site resulting in a better looking, more effective end result.
We believe that ‘web sites’ should be created on ‘the web’. With Basekit, what you see really is what you get – you edit web sites live online in true context.
What features are most used and least used of the feature set now?
This is a difficult question to answer, as we are currently in a private Beta testing stage, running set on site weekly user testing sessions with a range of delegates.
We have some really neat and unique features such as :

i)    A process whereby a user can import photoshop (.psd) files directly into Basekit to create a ‘template’. This means that users do not need to code their designs into html / css templates – Basekit does it all for you! Users can then access the CSS / HTML from within Basekit (if they wish), once Basekit has transformed their design into a flexible web template.
ii)    Custom web forms can be created in a fraction of the time, simply by dropping the individual form fields into the page. Basekit automatically sets up a back end (MySQL) database – so that all form submissions are stored in the ‘back end’ of your site. This data can then, of course, be used dynamically.
iii)    Instant database creation. Create databases in Basekit simply by copying and pasting data from an excel spreadsheet. It really is that easy! Again, this data can then be used / displayed dynamically.

Who are your target customers? Be as specific as possible.
Our primary market research has shown that most small businesses currently source the creation of their web site through ‘web designers’ (74%).
Basekit was initially conceptualised and created out of our own needs (as a small web agency) to create, deploy and manage small business web sites in a quicker, easier and more effective way.
Therefore, our go to market strategy will initially be focussed around the ‘web designer’ channel. For them, Basekit is a faster and better way to create, deploy and manage small business web sites. The Basekit platform is flexible enough to accommodate existing web design workflows and can enable web professionals to do more with the capabilities they have.
Basekit delivers particular benefits to the ‘designer’ end of web designers – with Basekit helping them to focus on the visual aesthetic qualities of the web sites they create, with all dynamic coding elements taken care of for them.
In addition to the web designer channel, we can also target small business segments directly either with a Do It Yourself web builder offering for the 26% of ‘tech savvy’ small businesses that favour this method, or as an assisted set up service where we act as web designer rapidly deploying small business web sites at an increased monthly fee.
What’s the #1 reason your customers will use your service?
There are many reasons why people will use Basekit, but the number one reason is that it is an ‘enabling’ technology. It ‘enables’ users to create dynamic, functional web sites quicker and easier than ever before – without having to write a line of code (although for the coders out there, access to code is ‘optional’ !).
What are the first features you hope to launch? What’s the feature roadmap?
We have a very defined set of features that we are in the process of implementing for our public Beta launch in September 2009. We have deliberately held back on locking our feature roadmap beyond that point, as the important thing for us will be listening to our users and developing the features that matter to them.
Who are your competitors?
We truly believe that there is no direct comparative to Basekit. But, we have identified our 3 closest competitors as Square Space, Light CMS and Goodbarry.
What do you need from the market to be successful?
Lots of delighted users, who LOVE Basekit so much they tell all their friends!
On a serious note, we feel strongly that the market is ready for Basekit; in fact it is well over due! We built Basekit out of a genuine need – a need which others can relate to. Web development should not be so hard, and Basekit is here to make it much easier and much quicker.
We hope that in the future people will look back and wonder what life was like before Basekit.
How are you doing on funding?
We have secured funding from 2 top European VC’s – who have not only helped to finance the company, but also provide invaluable support to the business on an operational and strategic level.
We are looking to bring in a further funding partner by November 2009.
What is your business model? How will you monetize?
Basekit is free to try and free to use to develop a prototype web site. Once a user deploys a web site, a monthly subscription fee (per site) is charged. This fee is similar to existing hosting fees, therefore we are not creating a new market but rather being a disruptive substitution for traditional hosting models.
The monthly fee paid per web site deployed in Basekit increases as new features are added to their basic package (e.g. capability to update content, email marketing, promotion, eAccounting etc.). Once web sites are deployed in Basekit the switching costs are always above the price sensitivity of substitutive offers making the lifetime value of each web site high. In fact, we estimate that the net present value of each web site deployed could be more than £1,000.
What kind of US partners would help grow your business faster?
The ideal US partners for us would be people / companies that have either :
a)    Cracked the US SME market.
and / or
b)    Cracked the US web designer market / channel.
and / or
c)    Has a major sphere of influence over either of the above.

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Skimlinks UK Start Up Rewrites Affiliate Links on the Fly for Content Publishers and Bloggers #TG2009

by on July 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm

On my Traveling Geeks blogger junket to the UK earlier this month, one of the most impressive start ups I met was a company called Skimlinks. Founder Alicia Navarro’s business model is solid and she provides a real value to publishers and content creators who want to easily include affiliate links on their site. Here’s an interview Alicia and I did as a wrap up for you.

Image representing Skimlinks as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Tell me a little about yourself and how you founded SkimLinks.
I have always yearned to run my own business, and had studied IT and worked in internet application product management in order to learn what I needed to achieve this. While in an interview for a job at Google that I didn’t want, I was asked to come up with a product idea. I started talking about a social decision-making tool, and I loved the idea so much I started Skimbit the next day. Skimbit didn’t do amazingly well on its own, and went through a few iterations, and during this process we came up with a way to reverse engineer affiliate marketing links from user-generated content. This technology became so popular we decided to change our business strategy and focus exclusively on this and other technologies that helped publishers monetise their content. Thus Skimlinks was born!

Note from Susan: The sign of a good entrepreneur is one who alters their business model until they find the right set of offerings and revenue. Alicia is proving she can do this.

Describe the SkimLinks service.
Skimlinks is a simplified affiliate marketing service for publishers. It automates the process of creating and maintaining affiliate links on your site. It aggregates 19 affiliate networks and 11,000 merchant programs into one account, giving publishers instant access to every affiliate program. Publishers just need to add one line of code into their site footer once, and their whole site, including all archival content is immediately enabled. Publishers do what they normally do: write posts and link to retailer products, eg. a review on a pair of shoes and then linking to the shoes on Macys.com. Then when a user clicks on this link to Macy’s, Skimlinks checks to see if the link can be turned into an affiliate link, and if it can, it automatically turns the link into its equivalent affiliate link on-the-fly. Its seamless to the user, and means all your archival content is monetised and kept up to date always, without any effort on behalf of the publisher.

Note from Susan: Though I can’t vouch for how easy it actually is for a publisher to integrate the “one line of code” on their site, I am very impressed with the way Skimlinks automatically changes a direct link into an affiliate link on the fly. This makes the user experience on the site much better.

Alicia Navarro, Founder, Skimlinks

Alicia Navarro, Founder, Skimlinks

What features are most used and least used of the feature set now?
The most used feature is to use Skimlinks on user-generated content, like social bookmarking, social shopping and forum sites. As we have a custom subdomain feature, we can make Skimlinks look completely internal to your site; and as we don’t rewrite the links until they are clicked on, there is no impact on page load, and the links don’t appear to be affiliate links increasingly chances of clickthroughs.

What’s the #1 reason publishers use your service?
Publishers use our service because they want to earn revenue from their site in an easy way. Rather than spend their own time working out the complexities of creating and maintaining affiliate links, they can focus 100% of their time and effort on their content and their community, and outsource their affiliate management to a company that can do it more efficiently and with the best technology.

What are the next features you hope to launch?
We are in the process of launching our innovative Global feed (one single aggregated global product feed and API) and SkimKit (editorial toolkit to help journalists and bloggers research products), both of which help publishers add more content that can be monetised on their site.

Note from Susan: I’d like to see Skimlinks integrated with Zemanta, another start up I met in London on the TG2009 tour. Zemanta is installed in my WordPress software now and gives me related images, links and online articles I can easily drag and drop into my blog posts. If I had Skimlinks as part of this, I could also easily add affiliate links into my blog posts. Putting more add ons into my current WordPress set up always worries me. I’d like to see more partnerships and wider integration, rather than a bunch of stand alone features from different companies.

Who are your competitors?
Our main competitor is a publisher doing their own affiliate marketing, although increasingly we are getting more and more existing affiliates using Skimlinks because it makes them more efficient and lets them focus on their core competencies: content, SEO, and community.

What do you need from the market to be successful?
There are changes afoot in Europe to force publishers to explicitly disclose if they use affiliate marketing – this would have a big impact on the industry. We are instead supportive of publishers retaining editorial integrity as they use affiliate marketing, and disclosing it within certain sections of their site.

Alicia Navarro, founder, Skimlinks at the US/UK Seedcamp SpeedDating Event

Alicia Navarro, founder, Skimlinks at the US/UK Seedcamp SpeedDating Event

How are you doing on funding?
We are lucky to be funded by some great companies: Sussex Place Ventures, The Accelerator Group, and NESTA, plus some great Angels.

What is your business model? How will you monetize?
We retain a small revenue share of what we make the publishers, but above and beyond our technology, you get attentive account managers who help you maximise your revenues;  you get access to our innovative research and optimisation tools; and we help publishers get voucher codes and discount information to offer their readers, so its a very value-rich service we offer.

Note from Susan: I like the percentage model of Skimlinks and they are smart to include a human optimization element so they increase usage of their features and become a must-have part of a publisher’s revenue model.

What kind of US partners would help grow your business faster?
We like to talk to all sorts of publishers that want to start earning money from affiliate marketing. We are keen to speak to publishers that already have a lot of retailer links, even in their user-generated content, but also from sites that want to create their own ‘related products’ widgets using our Global feed, as we can now help them too.

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Inside of the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s Round House in :22 Secs of Video #TG2009

by on July 19, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Econsultancy, for you “Yanks,” is the equivalent of our Jupiter before they were eaten by Forrester. Ashley Freidlein and Clare Laurie hosted a round table discussion with their top-notch clients and the Traveling Geeks. Then they took us on a tour of the Globe Theatre, which is just gorgeous.

In this short video, you can see a 280 degree pan of the Globe Theatre in London where they are changing the set for the next play.

Here’s a link to pictures from this event on my Flickr page.

Econsultancy Round Table #TravelingGeeks
Image by SusanBratton via Flickr
Image of Clare Laurie from Twitter
Image of Clare Laurie
Print, based on Hollar's 1644 Long View of Lon...
Image via Wikipedia
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