Most Memorable of 2008

December 18, 2008

Throughout 2008 I’ve attended many conferences, met many people, and become aware of many great start-ups. As the year dies down I’ve been thinking to myself, out of all the impressive companies I’ve become aware of in 2008, which seem headed for further success in 2009? To answer this question I decided to list the 5 most memorable companies from my 2008 experiences: (In no specific order)

Company: Mimobot
Location: Boston, MA
Website: http://www.mimoco.com
Product: Designer USB Flash Drives
Customers: Hot Topic, Newbury Comics, Urban Outfitters, W Hotels
What I Like About the Company: Mimobot makes creative USB flash drives and has licensing agreements with Star Wars and Halo. I spoke with the founders (they just so happen to be Babson MBAs) who hinted to product expansion in 2009; adding USB cords and other hi-tech designer offerings. Keep an eye on Mimobot as they enter an untapped novelty market.

Company: Boxee
Location: New York, NY
Website: http://www.boxee.tv
Product: Media Center Software
Partners: Netflix, Hulu, MTV, flickr
What I Like About the Company: The perfect solution to marrying my addictions to Hulu and Apple TV. Boxee is still in alpha testing, but once their internet based streaming HD television catches on, it will be a run-away hit. One rumored feature is the ability to instant message with friends from your TV while watching the same show or movie. I can’t wait for the beta.

Company: HubSpot
Location: Boston, MA
Website: http://www.hubspot.com
Product: Inbound Marketing System
Customers: TheLogoFactory.com, Kadient, Vocio
What I Like About the Company: I’ve blogged about HubSpot before, they still don’t hesitate to impress. With a poor economy and high unemployment, many more will be forced to start their own businesses in 2009. The most efficient way to create sales for new entrepreneurs is to have customers come to them. HubSpot’s inbound marketing system provides start-ups with nice websites, SEO expertise, and guidance to make the most of a start-up’s shoestring marketing budget.

Company: Inigral
Location: San Francisco, CA
Website: http://www.inigral.com
Product: Secure Learning Management Facebook Application called “Schools”
Customers: Abilene Christian University
What I Like About the Company: BlackBoard is the 800lb. gorilla of the Learning Management System (LMS) world, but Inigral is leveraging the Facebook platform to put up a fight. Inigral does not have the functionality of BlackBoard, but they do have an audience in Facebook. Inigral’s Schools application organizes individual Facebook accounts by grouping coursemates together, creating a one-stop-community for one’s higher learning needs. Visit their website to watch videos to learn more about Inigral’s impressive functionality.

Company: Igloo Software
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Website: http://www.igloosoftware.com
Product: Social Networking Enterprise Software
Customers: Motorola, Thomson, Canadian Corporate Council Association (CCCA), McGill University
What I Like About the Company: Major corporations’ needs when moving to online collaborative software differ greatly from the general public; they value security, ease of access, and knowledge management as essential. Igloo Software demonstrates the most functional and sexiest solution for enterprise software and has the clientele to back it up. I blogged about Igloo back in June naming them the Enterprise 2.0 Winner.

Please share the companies you think we should keep an eye out for in 2009.


The Art of Corporate Blogging

June 23, 2008

Last week I cam across a great blog post titled “7 Reasons Why Corporate Blogs Are Absolutely Useless.” Eventhough I disagree with the author, Ben Jones, I find the post thought provoking. Please find the 7 reasons from Ben’s blog (http://ben-means-business.com) and my response following the excerpt:

Reason#1: Fear of Transparency

People who read blogs expect to “know” the author, and participate in discussions with the author and other readers. They enjoy an atmosphere that is genuine and has a “living room” feel. In other words, they expect you to acknowledge problems, fixes, and incidents instead of using your blog to further validate cover-ups. Remember, PR ploys are for people who read the newspaper. Blog readers are a different breed and they respect and embrace what’s “real”.

Reason#2: Infrequent Posting

Even if you’ve created great content on your blog, people will stop visiting after they drop by a few times and there’s nothing new. A blog requires time to maintain and is important enough to assign somebody to the task exclusively.

Reason#3: Too Much Advertising

Advertisements, product introductions, and the like are great material for blogs. However, don’t overdue it. Remember, you have a website to market your great products. You have a blog to market your great company. Don’t confuse the two.

Reason#4: Blog is Just Plain Boring

Doesn’t have to be stocked full of information…Give them a peek “inside” the company. Tip: Post pictures from company gatherings, employee awards, run contests, polls, etc… Just make it interesting.

Reason#5: Blog Doesn’t Allow Feedback

Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that blogs were meant to create discussion. If not, what makes them different from a website? Needless to say, I was absolutely floored to find that most corporate blogs don’t allow comments. Interesting…to say the least.

Reason#6: Lack of Participation

People want the chance to hear you respond to their thoughts, concerns, feelings, etc… It’s makes your customers feel like they matter. Don’t just ask their opinion and leave them hanging. Respond, and do so with grace, confidence, and a nice disposition.

Reason#7: Blog Lacks Substance

Your company already has arms, legs, and feet(yours and your employees), but none of those things are more important and/or powerful than having a voice. A blog gives your company a voice. So value that voice and use it with purpose.” (http://ben-means-business.com/7-reasons-why-corporate-blogs-are-absolutely-useless, June 16, 2008.)

I responded as follows:

First-rate blogging organizations benefit both the organizations and their customers. Well done corporate blogs are dynamic; they provide value to the public (hopefully future customers), but the blog has no value unless the public utilizes it, thus the organization must convince the public to choose to read it (while not seeming self-serving). The best strategy to direct people to a corporate blog without seeming self-serving is to create one which is NOT self-serving; create value for the public, embrace and promote participation, interact with the readers (reply to comments), and DO NOT promote. The best corporate blogs artfully present problems, which they have the ability to solve, and provide a piece to the solution. For many, the piece is good enough to independently solve the problem, but others will research further into the corporate blogger and become quality leads. The small sample of corporate blogs I’ve read impress me, and I’ve learned some great knowledge from them. One blog continuously comes to mind while typing this post: HubSpot out of Cambridge, MA… http://blog.hubspot.com/.

I am interested in knowing others thoughts and feelings about corporate blogging. Please utilize the comments section for your opinions.