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
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
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
Product: Inbound Marketing System
Customers:, 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
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
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.


Business Strategy:Don’t be a Tourist

August 1, 2008

My July vacation is finally over!  In July I’ve been working for a small start-up on a SEO project, enjoying the summer, and traveling to such places as Montreal, Nashville, St. Louis, Detroit and Minneapolis. I am tired of traveling, but I do have a little more to do before summers end. One aspect I love about traveling is experiencing new cultures, all be it mostly American cultures. American cultures are similar yet unique; everywhere people eat PB&J sandwiches, shop at the local mall, and use Google to search the internet, but some Americans pass on PB&J’s for St. Louis BBQ, shop at the Mall of America instead of the local shopping center, and search Google for the hottest new pair of cowboy boots, not for the closest Wal-Mart. During my travels I experienced St. Louis BBQ in St. Louis, aimlessly wondered the Mall of America in Minneapolis, and Googled cowboy boots while in Nashville. My goals while traveling are: 1. Experience the local culture, and 2. AVOID LOOKING LIKE A TOURIST! My goals while traveling are transferable to business strategy.

Start-up businesses should experience local cultures and avoid looking like tourists. Local cultures in business are unexplored business territories. Explore these territories. Search for new areas within your start-up’s scope of business, even if unfamiliar. Submit your business to take in and learn as much about the unexplored, almost becoming a member of the unexplored, but DO NOT be a tourist! Entering the unexplored is scary and difficult; if entered without confidence others will see you as a tourist. A tourist is one that goes on a tour for pleasure or culture. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of a tour is “a journey for business, pleasure, or education often involving a series of stops and ending at the starting point.” While researching new business territories you are touring new areas, but areas which you may not want to leave (you may not want to end “at the starting point”). The best strategy to enter and stay in a new businesses territory is to learn the territory first hand by experiencing it (experience the local culture) and blend in like an expert (avoid looking like a tourist) in case you choose to stay. By exemplifying confidence and avoiding looking like a tourist, your business will be more accepted into its new community if you choose to stay. Don’t be afraid to experience the local culture as long as you avoid looking like a tourist.