Friday, May 20, 2011

Location-Based Mobile Advertising Company JiWire Raises $20 Million

From Evernote:

Location-Based Mobile Advertising Company JiWire Raises $20 Million

Exclusive: Location-based mobile advertising company JiWire has raised $20 million in new funding led by Trident Capital with Comcast Interactive Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Panorama Capital, and Norwest Venture Partners also participated in the financing. With the current funding, JiWire's total capital raised to date is $45 million.

JiWire offers a highly targeted, location-based advertising platform that runs across Wi-Fi and mobile for devices such as iPads, smartphones and laptops. Through partnerships with more than 40 public WiFi networks, 30,000 venues and 60 airports, its ads reach more than 40 million people a month. JiWire also has advertising relationships with more than 200 location-based mobile applications.

On the advertising side, the company has partnered with a number of companies to connect these brands with its massive consumer reach. For example, JiWire announced a deal with Groupon to offer location-based deals at a hyperlocal level. Other brands using JiWire include Hewlett-Packard, Ritz Camera and Clinique.

Last year, JiWire acquired location-based mobile shopping platform NearbyNow, which allows brands to show products within an app or an ad and confirm availability of the product in the actual store. The company then integrated this technology into its own ad platform.

JiWire's CEO Dave Courtney tells us that the new funding will be used to towards development of new ad technology and products, acquisitions and international expansion (the company entered the U.K. last year).

Facebook Now Effectively Paying Users 10 Cents to Watch Certain Ads

From Evernote:

Facebook Now Effectively Paying Users 10 Cents to Watch Certain Ads

Facebookintroduced a program Thursday that offers consumers a financial incentive to watch ads on the site.

Facebook will now reward users who watch certain ads with Facebook Credits, which can be redeemed to purchase goods on Facebook Deals, the company's new Groupon-like daily deals service. The incentive, however, is not huge. Initially, the average ad will yield one credit, which is equivalent to 10 cents.

The ads will mostly be in games. CrowdStar, Digital Chocolate and Zynga are among the participating game publishers. Facebook is working with Sharethrough, SocialVibe, Epic Media and SupersonicAds to serve ads on the program as well as TrialPay, which will provide analytics.

Dan Greenberg, CEO of Sharethrough, says Facebook's move represents "a step away from interruptive advertising." Greenberg, whose clients include Microsoft and Nestle, says his network won't deliver traditional advertising but rather branded entertainment, which consumers will want to watch and share with friends.

Incentivizing consumers to watch ads is one solution for Facebook's low banner click-through rates. The move comes after Facebook expanded its Credits program last week to let consumers use the Credits to buy real-world goods advertised in Deals. Previously, the credits, which were awarded for consumers who signed up for various programs (like magazine subscriptions) or bought outright could only buy virtual goods.

RenRen Is No Facebook

From Evernote:

RenRen Is No Facebook

RenRen, a Chinese social network, just had a very successful IPO that raised $743 million for the company on shares priced at $14 (the high end of what many analysts anticipated). Currently, the stock is trading at $16.76 per share, giving the company a valuation of $6.5 billion on revenue of $67.5 million in 2010 - up 64% from 2009 revenues.

There's certainly value in the network, but we have to go against the many media outlets who've promoted RenRen as "the Chinese Facebook." It's not.

Fortune notes some of RenRen's similarities to Facebook: a social network that started by targeting college students before expanding to everyone, members using their real identities to connect with people they know, a platform for app developers, popular social games, a Connect system with partner websites. There are definitely a lot of similarities, but it's the differences that account for why RenRen =/= Facebook.

1. Facebook is a big deal outside of the US, RenRen is only big in China

And according to their mission statement

"we aim to define social networking experience and to revolutionize the way that people in China connect, communicate, entertain and shop"

(emphasis, ours) they have no ambitions to change that. China is obviously a good market to be number one in, but so is the US. If Facebook had only focused on growth in the US, they wouldn't be anywhere near where they are today. Facebook is Facebook because they're the number one social network in the UK, in France, in Germany, in Canada and many more countries. Sure, there are plenty of countries where Facebook isn't the top social network - notably Brazil, South Korea and Japan.

But as lucrative as the Chinese market is - and it's certainly lucrative, being number one in one country just doesn't equal being number one in 20 (sizable) countries.

2. When it comes to active users, there's not a clear leader in China

RenRen claims 117 million registered users, but of that only 31 million are active. Percentage wise, that's slightly more than 1/4th of registered users. No social network is immune to abandoned accounts, but worldwide Facebook claims more than 500 million active users, with 50% logging in daily. At an advertising event in February of this year, Facebook's head of US Agency Relations broke out some country specific numbers. In the US (Facebook's home country), there are 149 million active American users, 70% of whom log on daily. {TechCrunch}

Since Facebook doesn't release registered user numbers (at over 500 million active users, it's kind of  unnecessary) there's no definitive figure to compare that with, but Google's ad planning tool estimates put the number of absolute unique US users to Facebook in March 2011 at 190 million. If we assume all of those users have a Facebook account, that would mean almost 80% of Facebook's US users are active, and 55% of their total registered user base - not just those who are active - visit the site every day.

RenRen's active user numbers aren't close. Add to that, even though analysts say competitors like are declining, they still maintain an equal or higher number of active Chinese internet users. {SAI/BusinessInsider} So RenRen isn't exactly losing the fight when it comes to Chinese social networks, but there's a way to go before they're declared the winner.

3. Facebook is an internet presence outside Facebook

For a while, some people saw Facebook as the new AOL: a walled garden service that would eventually crash as people began to decentralize and move to sites on the open web. Then Facebook released widgets that allowed for the easy addition of Facebook social features to almost any site on the open web. Almost overnight, it made Facebook a force beyond Facebook.

The 'Like' button is officially a year old as of April 21st, and 10,000 sites are using it. RenRen Connect, which launched in October 2009, has 600 partner sites.

It's not an apples to apples comparison, but probably one of the clearer examples of why our first two points matter.

4. User growth is beginning to plateau

RenRen is still growing, but percentage wise, user and revenue growth is slowing. {BusinessInsider} Facebook's overall percentage growth may not be as rapid as it was in the past few years, but that's because it's pretty hard to keep up 100% year over year growth in every market when you have 500 million active users.

5. There is no RenRen ecosystem

Part of the reason Facebook has been able to raise so much money at eye-popping valuations is the fact that it's an ecosystem that has the power to not only create revenue for itself, but cottage industries as well. Sure, Facebook owes some of its popularity to companies like Zynga, who create games and apps that keep people on the site; but Zynga also owes a good part of its multi-million dollar value to Facebook. Then there are companies like NorthSocial and BuddyMedia, who provide brands and companies with tools that help them manage their presence on the site.

Even Twitter, who still hasn't completely figured out how to capitalize on the value it's creating, has managed to create an ecosystem that other companies can be built on.

While Chinese game developers have had hits, RenRen just isn't in a position yet to create industries specifically around RenRen.

While it's highly unlikely that RenRen will ever equal the success of Facebook, it doesn't have to to be successful. As of April 2010, ComScore estimates that 38% of Chinese internet users visit social networking sites, compared to 81% of US internet users. That means there's still plenty of room for growth in users and revenue to satisfy investors. Add to that the fact that it's notoriously difficult for Western consumer tech companies to succeed in China without partnerships, and RenRen certainly has a chance at becoming a significant Chinese internet company. Just don't compare it to Facebook.

Designing Your Innovation Identity

From Evernote:

Designing Your Innovation Identity

Submitted by Nicolas Bry on May 5, 2011 – 12:02 am

by Nicholas Bry

Taking the long view on innovation management, one can draw some organization archetypes most commonly implemented. None can be applied as it is to your organization: there is no such thing as "one size fits all" in innovation management. You have to make your selection of best practices, and assess which are appropriate, considering your company status. You have to build your own innovation identity.

From the academic and case study reviews included in rapid innovation thesis I completed last year, 2 main innovation models seem to emerge:

  1. Thriving innovation model means the innovation culture is at the cornerstone of the corporate company; the company develops interactions both across internal departments and with external resources to complete its innovations. 3M, P&G, Cisco, Sanofi, Renault, the Open source way of working are championing this model.
  2. Dedicated entity model involves the creation of an autonomous unit pursuing new and uncertain activity lines. Lockheed with its skunk works, Saturn the GM subsidiary, marketed as a "different kind of car company", Ideo, EDF Business Innovation are concrete tracks of this model.

3M is a typical case of thriving innovation model, involving a culture of intrapreneurship with some specific rules refined over time: innovation has sustained 3M continuous growth from the beginning to the end of the 20th century. Some of 3M rules are as follows:

  • Small autonomous units
  • Commitment to R&D
  • Technology propagation
  • "Lab to market" channel
  • Project management
  • Reward adapted to innovation
  • "Bootleg rule" : 15% free time to personal innovation
  • Recruitment focus
  • Innovation, a "game of numbers"
  • A solution to solve a problem (the post-it story)
  • Learning from the past

Going another way, Ideo embody in a modern dedicated entity model the skunk works approach created by Lockheed in the 50′s. At Ideo, they say "We're not good at innovating because of our flawless intellects, but because we've done 2000 products, and we've been mindful". What are the rules of these innovation experts? Very few actually:

  • Culture is driven by creativity : recruiting, stimulating
  • Small entities, flat hierarchy
  • Cross-functionality as creativity catalysis
  • Fast prototyping and iteration : try it, fix it, try it again
  • Innovation framework constantly improved

Taking advantage of both models was the intention beyond Rapid innovation model, the best of both worlds! There are many companies "in-between" which illustrating a blended approach: Oticon, Decathlon, Gore, players in the video game industry, Google, and Apple.

  • At Google for instance, innovation is in the core DNA, which links them to the first model; reversely, as they enable small teams to investigate disruptive innovation in a flexible framework, they are  close to 2nd model with dedicated entity.
  • At Decathlon, they have central R&D, fully interacting with external resources and skills, and they have local R&D supporting brands developments. They manage ambidextruous organization with 2 DNAs.

Gore is one of my favourite innovation style, an amazing example of hybrid innovation champion. Here are some of their new rules of business detailed in The Fabric of Creativity, by Alan Deutschman, which shows that their "culture is as imaginative as their products":

  • The power of small teams
  • No ranks, no titles, no bosses
  • Take the long view
  • Make time for face time
  • Lead by leading
  • Celebrate failure

There is no universal Mendeleev classification for innovation models. In the innovation toolbox, we've talked about Jaruzelski and Dehoff classifying innovators in need seekers, market readers, and technology drivers, with big, consistent winners in all camps. Gary Hamel also distinguished innovators archetypes in the following taxonomy: tyros, nobel laureates, artistes, cyborgs, born again.

The secret formula for being an innovation champion is still very very secret!

Innovation management is a strategy each company has to develop, not embracing a theoretical model with its "eyes wide shut", but rather leveraging on reference models to build its own way, taking advantage pragmatically of all situation potentials:

  • What are your strengths, what is your story, where do you come from?
  • How are the market environment, competition /new entrants, customers portfolio, suppliers, regulation evolving?
  • What is your level of expectation, the portfolio balance you have in mind, your tangible innovation objectives?
  • What reference models and innovation practices attract you? What will not work in your organization?

In the way to define our innovation mantra and strategy,  a look at the 10 facets defined by Jeffrey Philipps can also help, positioning where you want to be on the graduation:

  • open vs closed innovation:
  • skunk works vs broadly participative;
  • suggestive vs directed, incremental vs disruptive (also stretching innovation vs "all included" innovation vs disruptive innovation);
  • centralized vs decentralized;
  • product / service / operations / business model, funding, wisdom of crowd vs defined criteria and experts.

You have to "become the innovator you are". The only failure you can make would be to complete a biaised analysis.And to forget to adapt your strategy over time …

Building your innovation strategy is a primordial essence of your identity, it's like your "tao": the road where it goes and you feel like going, where it's viable and you think you will harness innovation opportunities. Only you can make this path.

Nicolas Bry is a Senior VP at Orange. He developed a strong experience in innovation management, creating digital business units with international challenge, and completed a professional thesis on rapid innovation at HEC Business School.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

From Evernote:

You Say You Want a Revolution?

How is starting a business like sparking an uprising? Plus, the perils of unlimited vacation time, and the rest of the day's news for entrepreneurs.
Posted by Christine Lagorio @lagorio  at 11:45 AM

Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today.

The start-ups' guide to revolutions. Perhaps inspiring an uprising isn't so different from starting a business. Come up with an idea (or a product) that inspires change or improves lives, and you're on your way—to either, really. However, sustaining said revolution or business can be trickier. Inspired by the sweep of revolutions in the Middle East, Mashable provided a guide yesterday on how to sustain your revolution after its initial swell. Yes, the piece is focused on social movements, but it's not much of a stretch to reapply tips such as building on success, adapting your vision, or redefining leadership to your business.

The endless summer. What would happen if you let your employees take unlimited vacation? Katie Morrell, over at OPEN Forum, makes a solid case for employers granting their workers carte blanch with their time. Ben Kirshner, founder of Elite SEM and purveyor of unlimited vacation time, tells OPEN "I understand that things come up in the middle of the day that are outside of your work duties. If you need to get a haircut or your suit dry-cleaned or watch your child's soccer game, you should do it. Life is too short." But Kirshner has one rule: abuse it and lose it. Check out this terrific infographic that shows mandatory paid time off around the world and find out why the United States didn't even make the cut.

Outlook: optimistic. A new survey from Citibank shows that small businesses are coming out of the economic slump with a big sense of optimism. Seventy-eight percent said they will expand this year, and more than half of surveyed business owners say business conditions this year are "steady as a rock." What's more, 76 percent of business owners say they'd do it all again—start their business, even knowing all the challenges they would face.

Six fundraising tips. So you have an amazing idea, a solid business plan and a co-founder, or two. Check! Now you need the funds to actually get your business off the ground. This could be the tricky part. Tom Szaky, wrote a piece in The New York Times highlighting the challenges his company, TerraCycle, faced when looking for outside investors. "Institutional investors tend to be more demanding and less flexible," he notes. "They have their own investors to satisfy, are impatient for results, and have low tolerance for any deviation from the original plan." Through trial and error he pinpoints six lessons he's learned through the process. One of he's most important tips is to "build your terms assuming the worst will happen—in the time it takes you to establish your company, it just might."

How to master "the pivot." No company is perfect when it launches; new challenges and feedback help push the company forward. But sometimes, progress requires a relatively dramatic and intentional shift in direction—a "pivot," if you will. However, recognizing it's time for a reassessment or new direction can be difficult, especially for young entrepreneurs. In a column for The Huffington Post, entrepreneur Cathy Belk shares why, how, and when a company needs to pivot and refocus its energies. "The ability to make well-informed pivots is necessary to discover where your technology offers the most value," says Rick Arlow, chief science officer at LifeServe Innovations, a medical device start-up based in Ohio.

Trying to make sense of the daily deal craze? While the number of daily deal sites has proliferated, this grid by Online MBA pits the four biggies—LivingSocial, Groupon, Facebook, Google—along such key metrics as membership base, retailer's cut and mobile apps available. 

Managing over iPhone. A startup called Gigwalk launches today with the aim of creating a mobile community of workers willing to do basic tasks ranging in pay from $3 and $90. Here's the deal: Companies post the job they want done, directions, and how much they will pay. Using the location data from iPhones, Gigwalk (and the job poster) manages the job and confirm that the "Gigwalkers" completed the task. Examples of jobs include verifying street names or reporting red light cameras. The service is available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and other major U.S. Cities, with plans to expand beyond. The company, which is based in Mountain View, California, reportedly received $1.7 million in seed funding.

When's best to start-up? If you get to pick the time of year for launching your company, why not go with the established market conditions to decide when to press "go." YC Reject compiled a small set of data—just the dates a dozen successful tech companies launched—to look for a trend. Voila: one emerged. Four of the companies were founded in September. They include eBay, Google, Mint, and YouTube. Another tip: stay away from both winter and summer holidays for start-up dates.

For Facebook Marketing, 'Being Fresh' is Key

From Evernote:

For Facebook Marketing, 'Being Fresh' is Key

A friendly public service announcement: This Sunday is Mother's Day, so don't forget to honor that special woman who gave you life (perhaps by baking her some yummy cupcakes, which coincidentally, you can learn a lot from). Now while my mother always told me "Don't be fresh," when it comes to Facebook, "being fresh" is key.

In a recent study, online promotion company Visibli analyzed more than 200 million Facebook Fans to determine engagement habits and found that just 80 minutes after a Facebook post has been published, it has already reached its half-life. Additionally, in a mere seven hours after it's been published, 80 percent of engagement with that post is complete.

Facebook Lessons for Marketers:

While we already understand the importance of fresh content for successful inbound marketing, there are definitely a few Facebook-specific takeaways for marketers here…

1. Publish Daily: According to Visibli's data, it takes 22 hours for a Facebook post to generate 95% of its Likes. Therefore, it makes sense that marketers should strive to publish at least one post per day to keep their Facebook Page fresh and generating sufficient Fan engagement.

2. But Don't Over-Publish: Consider the shelf-life of a Facebook post. To generate the maximum engagement from each post, avoid publishing too frequently to give each post enough time to fulfill its engagement potential.  

3. Recognize Varying Consumption Habits for Different Social Networks: Understand that content on different social networks has varying shelf lives. Consider the difference between content published on Facebook versus Twitter. It makes sense that content on Twitter would have a much shorter shelf-life given the differing nature of the two sites, which makes the case that marketers need to publish more often to Twitter than to Facebook. Don't generalize among social networks.

4. Notice Specific Consumption Habits of Your Audience: Similarly, the target audience of one Facebook Fan page might have completely different consumption habits and needs than the target audience of another Facebook Fan page. Stay tuned to your Facebook fans and how they react to your content, and feel free to run some tests. How do your posts perform when you publish once daily versus twice daily — or more — or less? Experiment with your post frequency, and adjust your plan based on your results!

Lesson learned. This Mother's Day, be fresh on Facebook, not toward your mother.

Posted by Pamela Seiple on Fri, May 06, 2011 @ 02:00 PM

CEOs, Innovation and Growth

From Evernote:

CEOs, Innovation and Growth

Submitted by Jeffrey Phillips on May 5, 2011 – 12:05 am

I've been surprised at low little discussion a new report from the Conference Board has generated among innovators. The CEO Challenge, while not specifically a survey on innovation per se, tells us a lot about what CEOs are thinking and how they rank priorities.

In the survey CEOs were offered 10 priorities that they were asked to rank. Growth, unsurprisingly, ranked number 1 basically across the board. According to a Wall Street Journal article, after growth, there was a significant divergence based on the industry. Some heavily regulated industries ranked government regulation as next most important, while manufacturing and firms not in financial services ranked innovation as the second most important priority. Financial services firms alone tended to rank innovation near the bottom. The WSJ suggests that that result is probably the outcome of increased federal scrutiny after the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, the issues with credit card interest rates and other financial industry issues that are attracting attention in Washington.

A quote that jumped out at me from the Wall Street Journal's reporting seemed especially important:

"CEOs tend to balance talent, efficiency and innovation as their main strategies to drive growth but during crises, cost cutting can drown out the other two said Stanford University professor Robert Sutton. I'm getting the sense that CEOs have squeezed out [all] the efficiency that they can and now have to move to innovation and talent to grow he said. Talent wars between high-tech companies have heated up."

On the Conference Board site for the report, the top priorities are listed in ranked order, with growth ranked first, weighted almost twice as important as the next three priorities: talent, cost optimization and innovation. Interestingly, all three of the latter priorities have almost exactly the same weight. Taking financial services out of the equation, innovation is a clear second priority.

But what's interesting about these priorities is that some are outcomes and some are inputs. Business growth is an outcome, achieved when good people (talent) create compelling products (innovation) that customers want. Business growth is driven by new products, new services and new business models driven by innovation. It is difficult to have organic growth without innovation, so innovation is a clear ingredient to business growth.

But it's also hard to have business growth without good talent, and good talent is attracted to growing companies that have compelling products, interesting visions, the opportunity for growth for the individual. All of these factors happen when innovation is present, and are often missing when innovation is missing from a firm's agenda. Talent is fungible and will flow to the organizations that have the most compelling ideas and opportunities to convert ideas into new products and services. Innovation is a key ingredient to attracting and retaining good talent.

Of the four stated priorities, only cost optimization stands alone. Cost optimization doesn't drive business growth, and it often inhibits innovation. Talent isn't attracted to firms that consistently focus on cost optimization, and cost optimization doesn't grow new talent or many new ideas. Cost optimization is an expedient way to sustain profits without growth, but only in the short run. One could argue, in fact, that cost optimization is the antithesis of business growth, and the mere fact it shows up so prominently in the priorities of the CEOs is a reflection of the economic environment they face, rather than a long term stated objective.

The Takeaway: Get innovation right and you'll drive business growth. Get innovation right and you'll attract and retain the best talent. Innovation is the petri dish that will create the outcomes CEOs want.

Jeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of "Make us more Innovative", and

Where Can Social Media Marketing Take Your Career?

From Evernote:

Where Can Social Media Marketing Take Your Career?

Lee Odden on May 6th, 2011    Online Marketing, Social Media

Search Google for "social media consultant" or "social media expert" and you'll find millions of search results. I've been in the online marketing game since 1997 and I don't think I've ever seen such an emergence of expertise out of the blue. Web design in the late nineties and SEO in early 2000′s was close, but social media as a career choice of field of expertise is as pervasive as anything.

While it does appear that there may be more social media consultants than there are companies to hire them, the truth is the opposite. The ease of publishing online with blogs and social networking makes it seem like there are more qualified consultants than there really are.

Every company that I know in the online marketing space where social media is a key practice area is hiring. The problem is, there's a lack of people with real social media marketing experience. Many that do have such experience are accustomed to a "big fish, small pond" situation and often overestimate current capabilities.

For online marketing agencies like ours, a Social Media Marketing Specialist needs to have more experience than setting up social accounts on Facebook, Twitter and a blog. They need to have an understanding of social content planning, personas, social network research and development, light SEO, social content promotion, social monitoring and analytics for insights and reports.  Not many people 3-4 years out of college have that experience. But they could.

Experience and training are what help passionate users transition into those individuals that can provide business social media advice and insight with impact. Experience without a job in the field can be acquired in a few different ways:

  • Become a super user with social applications
  • With that first hand knowledge, start marketing a personal site and/or offer pro bono services to a non-profit or small business
  • Document experience on a personal site or blog
  • Participate ON and offline with networks important to your areas of focus (specific industries, geographic areas)
  • Make it clear that you are available for hire in your social profiles and what you can do with examples
  • Until you have your own examples you can share insights into work others have done or you could provide sample audits of companies that you'd like to work with/for.

While I was already working as an online marketing consultant with my own business when I started blogging and offering blogging services to clients in 2004, the path above is essentially what I followed to get into the social media marketing consulting business.  Things have turned out pretty well, but I will always be a student, forever testing and learning.

One significant area of focus at TopRank Marketing is finding the right people to work with our team as social media marketing consultants, copywriters and project managers.  Cross training existing staff and clients is also important.

Are you just starting out in a career focused on providing social media marketing consulting (either on your own or for a company)? What are some of the challenges you're facing in growing your expertise and getting experience?

If you are well into your social media marketing career as a practitioner or in a senior position, how did you make the transition from where you were, to your current state of expertise and knowledge? How do you stay current and competitive with your social media expertise?

Mobile Marketing Power

From Evernote:

Mobile Marketing Power

John Arnold, Entrepreneur | May 6, 2011, 5:01 PM

Smart business owners find customers by placing their marketing messages where the most eyeballs are focused.

And nowhere are there more eyeballs than on the screens of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

More than two thirds of the world's population has a mobile subscription, and mobile users are highly active.

Facebook recently reported statistics indicating that over half of its 500 million subscribers access Facebook from a mobile device and exhibit twice the activity level of non-mobile users. The time for mobile marketing is now.

Finding customers with mobile marketing involves either pulling people toward your messages or pushing your messages out.

This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.

John Arnold is president of Aveta Marketing, a marketing agency in Boulder, Colo.

Published on Friday, May 6th by Bena Roberts

From Evernote:

Published on Friday, May 6th by Bena Roberts

Published on Friday, May 6th by Bena Roberts

Just got this press release in and this new consultancy says these are the top mobile marketing companies in Australia. See below.., an independent authority on search vendors has named the Best Mobile Marketing Agencies in Australia for the month of May 2011. All the Best Mobile Search Firms recognized next to hundreds of other Mobile Marketing Services have gone through an evaluation system facilitated by a qualified and experienced team of researchers.

"By optimizing your site to mobile phones you are increasing the accessibility of your site. Now, visitors can log on to your site even when they do not have direct access to a computer. A good Mobile Marketing Firms should make the transition from computer to mobile phone as smooth as possible," said Jeev Trika, Managing Partner of (

The Top 10 Mobile Marketing Companies in the Australia for May 2011 are:

1.) Mobilista

2.) KAYWEB Holdings

3.) Infinity Technologies Pty Ltd.

4.) Ginger Group

5.) Net Starter

6.) FirstClick Consulting

7.) Rotapix Interactive Media

8.) Just Web

9.) 24/7 Real Media Inc.

10.) Exa Web Solutions


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Article: P&G’s Lessons from a Century of Open Innovation

From Evernote:

Article: P&G’s Lessons from a Century of Open Innovation

Submitted by Deborah Mills-Scofieldon April 26, 2011 – 11:01 pm

Suffice it to say I was honored my friend Chris Thoen would agree to talk about P&G's Open Innovation history at the 3rd Open Innovation (OI) Summit at Baldwin Wallace College's Center for Innovation & Growth: Practical Challenges of Global Open Innovation. Chris has been interviewed, quoted, written about extensively as a leader in OI, including on these pages, and for good reason.

Some of you may know P&G's history, some may not. 175 years ago, two brother-in-laws, William Procter (candle maker) and James Gamble (soap maker), using the same raw material, fats, were encouraged by their father-in-law to collaborate to get better 'fat' pricing! This was the start of P&G. They grew the company with their own innovations and through (un-named at the time) open innovation with other technology makers and companies. These partnerships were the foundation of P&G's growth into 300 brands in over 180 countries, 24 billion dollar brands and most importantly, one of the most trusted names in the world.

About 10 years ago, CEO A. G. Lafley transformed P&G's open innovation heritage into a key cultural component of the company – Connect+Develop (C+D). This wasn't just a way to come up with new products, but a fundamentally new way to do business. Lafley challenged P&G to source at least 50% of their innovation from outside its hallowed R&D halls.

Chris clearly described OI as an ongoing journey requiring recognition and investment in top talent and external synergies. When done well, OI is all about value creation for both partners, with both sets of interests in mind. It's about sharing your expertise and strategic needs of your brands, businesses, even corporately. To do this, P&G has developed and put 70+ C+D leaders around the globe with 11 regional hubs (e.g., NA, LA, Europe, Israel, China, India, Japan), 100s of networks and academic partnerships.

Several products you may know are a result of OI: Swiffer, Tide, Mr. Clean eraser (one of my favorites). Clorox's Glad ForceFlex product is based on a P&G licensed technology. Sometimes, you can even collaborate with your competitors! P&G's technology and IP have created $3B in sales for their OI partners.

So what has P&G learned on this journey?

  1. Drive from the Top: Without Lafley's challenge, commitment and leadership as CEO, it couldn't have taken hold corporate-wide.
  2. Build an OI culture: You have to support and learn from failure, communicate openly (and often) to build trust, help your people understand the innovation process and consistently reward partnerships and results, not just patents.
  3. Focus the Hunt: Keep your eyes on the strategy at all times! It's what guides you; build internal relationships by sharing needs and goals; manage leadership's expectations for reality, not for fantasy; create and communicate clear innovation selection and filtering criteria.
  4. Be Where the Action Is: get out of Cincinnati (or wherever)! You need to be where the innovation is happening and the markets exist – like developing markets, areas of VC activity, Social Media, SMEs, Academia/Universities and places with diverse expertise, cultures, ideas.
  5. Build Efficient and Effective Knowledge Management Systems: Track connections among your own people, capturing their knowledge and experience partnership nuances, deals so they are not repeated, saving time and money. Include your partners, networks, and competitors while protecting your IP and create a way to visualize and analyze these intertwined relationships.
  6. Obey the Law of the Land: Take what you need, only what you need, and leave the rest. Share what you're not using because it may find a great application in another home
  7. Staff for Success: Hire and train a unique blend of Hunter-Gatherer. This is not a typical person, but you may already have them – people who have expertise in a technology with business acumen with the ability to develop relationships, influence people, inside and outside your company. Deliberately hire for this. And, keep investing in R&D – doing OI doesn't mean closing down your own R&D.
  8. Be the Partner You're Looking For: The Golden Rule! Celebrate your partners, look beyond the first deal with them, facilitate more connections for you and them, keep that Win:Win mindset front and center and be transparent because a second (third, fourth…) deal with the same partner takes about half the time while creating twice the value. Remember, strong partners make you stronger as well.

Bottom line? P&G has created more value together with their OI partners than they ever could have alone. It is a real ecosystem that creates value on a global scale to accomplish P&G's mission:

"…improve the lives of the world's consumers, now and for generations to come."

Okay, so maybe you're not P&G, but you can still start the journey. What do you need? What do you have to offer? Who could you partner with?

Deb, founder of Mills-Scofield LLC, is an innovator, entrepreneur and non-traditional strategist with 20 years experience in industries ranging from the Internet to Manufacturing with multinationals to start ups. She is also a partner at Glengary LLC, a Venture Capital Firm.

Published on Friday, April 29th by Tony Dennis

From Evernote:

Published on Friday, April 29th by Tony Dennis

Published on Friday, April 29th by Tony Dennis

Rating: Unlimited free tagging for Android users

By negotiating the first exclusive App sponsorship deal ever agreed by eBay anywhere in the world, Music recognition specialist, Shazam, is now providing Android users with unlimited free tagging. This update to the Shazam Free App – which usually comes with five tags per month – will enable n users to receive free unlimited Shazaming until January 1st 2012. So get onto the Android Market and download it now! The update also incorporates a new deal with Facebook, too."Android Shazamers now have access to the 'Shazam Friends' social feature, allowing them to share their music discoveries with their Facebook friends and family," said  Alex Musil, executive vp with Shazam.

Ads will replace this boring blue screen

"While simultaneously discovering exciting new music and content themselves in a continuously updating feed."

Musil added, ""eBay is a brand people know and love, and we're excited to announce them as our exclusive sponsor."

Upon updating or installing the latest version of the app, a new 'Friends' tab will appear.

Using it, once Shazamers log into their Facebook accounts and confirm that they would like to connect and share with friends, a whole host of new facilities opens up.

For example, they'll be able to see all recent tags from a particular friend in one list as well as adding friends' tags to their own Shazam tag list.

Shazam also says that where available, they'll be able to use streaming services to play the song from their playlist.

Plus, they'll be able to purchase tracks – presumably through eBay?

Shazam Friends has already available in both the Shazam Free and Encore  (paid-for) version of the Shazam apps on Apple's iOS devices.


About Tony Dennis

Tony is based in Surrey and is a veteran comms journalist. Tony also writes on the UK market.
This article was published in Apple, Mobile Ad&Mktg, Mobile applications, facebook and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

It's 'Absurd' To Expect Users To Pay For Facebook, Twitter

From Evernote:

It's 'Absurd' To Expect Users To Pay For Facebook, Twitter

by Mike "Winfreight" Shraga on 30-Apr-11 8:03am

Opens up the controversial subject; Fred Wilson: It's 'Absurd' To Expect Users To Pay For Facebook, Twitter The Huffington Post Bianca Bosker First Posted: 04/29/11 02:36 PM ET Updated: 04/29/11 03:02 PM Venture capitalist Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, known for its investments in startups such as Twitter, Foursquare, and Kickstarter, among others, took a strong stand on the ways Internet companies could monetize their platforms—and couldn't. During a panel at the Guardian's Activate conference in New York, Wilson argued that most online companies could support themselves entirely on advertising and that it would be unthinkable for social media companies to ask their users to pay. For services like Facebook and Twitter where the user "provides all the value," it's "absurd to expect users to pay. They're the ones creating value," said Wilson. "To ask them to pay is the most ridiculous assertion ever." He noted that he asked his son, an avid Facebook user, whether he'd still use the social networking site if it started charging. Wilson said his son answered he'd be "gone in a minute.

…And what men can learn from them.

From Evernote:

…And what men can learn from them.

…And what men can learn from them.

Jennifer Houser is the co-founder of UpStart Bootcamp

A few days ago, I met Ben, a first-time founder who's been working on his business idea for 10 months. I asked him to give me the two minute overview of his business idea (or the "elevator pitch" in investor speak). Instead, Ben spent the next ten minutes telling me all about his product, with great passion. So I asked him a few questions about his business model, competitors, unmet customer needs, and marketing plans. But he couldn't answer any of those questions and just talked more about his product . Then I asked him if he had a business plan. He said no, he'd do that when he was getting ready to raise money. I asked how he was deciding what to do in the meantime. He lit up and told me all the things he was going to add to his product next. Ben finally asked me what I thought of his plans. As nicely as possible, I replied that I thought he was planning his company using the stereotypical male approach to driving: Never stopping for directions or checking to see if he was going in the right direction. I told him he needed to plan like a woman. Here's what I meant by that.

Make a game plan before you start out. If you're planning a business, you need a business plan, and you should write it down. No, I don't mean you need to write a 40-page Word .doc that no one will ever read. However, you should create a 15-page PowerPoint deck that covers each of the key topics essential for any business, including a clear roadmap for how you're going to build the business out over the first few years. This should be one of the first things you do as you start your business.

Admit what you don't know. No one knows everything needed to start and run a business. The trick is to figure out what you already know, what you don't know, and how you'll fill in the gaps. For example, if you need help building your plan, talk to others who have done it before. It will save you tons of time and help you avoid common missteps. Or, when making your business plan, you may realize that the business requires consumer marketing but that you don't know beans about it. Plan to have a partner who's an expert. Not sure what customers will pay for a product like yours? Talk to those who have sold something similar to the same customers.  

Ask for help along the way. Once you have your plan, you should talk to others for feedback. Good people to talk to are investors in similar companies, people who know your industry well, and your customers. You'll likely hear a lot of good things, but make sure you listen to their concerns and ask them what they think would work better. Tell them what you need to get to the next level. That's a great way to find co-founders, investors, partners, and more.  They'll give you all the information you need to get where you're going.

Be willing to change your mind. When you get feedback, be willing to change your plan. This is called pivoting. Don't worry, this is normal and every start-up changes plans a number of times. The trick here is to validate the information to make sure you should pivot, and how you should pivot.  Do not fall prey to the idea d'jour. And be willing to say "no" (or "not now") to some of the feedback you get. It's important to have the right plan and to be able to make progress against it so you achieve your goals.

Jenn Houser is co-founder of UpStart Bootcamp, an organization that helps entrepreneurs launch their businesses. To learn more about business planning, take UpStart's on-demand course, get a private coach, or check out their book, Hit the Deck.

10 Things I Learned From Failure

From Evernote:

10 Things I Learned From Failure

Posted by Scott Gerber @askgerber  at 11:39 AM

Every entrepreneur has made a series of mistakes or been subject to failures along his or her entrepreneurial journey. These setbacks, though painful, will teach you more about business than any textbook, lecture, or mentor ever could. Plus, they are great fodder for conversations at cocktail receptions and on panel discussions. 

I am proud to have learned such a great deal from my failures, and the fact that I get to share them—and, more important, the hard-knocks lessons learned—with a worldwide audience is a real thrill. After all, what's the point of ending up in frivolous litigation, nearly losing your shirt, pitching VCs for tens of millions of dollars wth no revenue model, or being forced to move back in with your parents if you can't have a few laughs as a result, right?

And with that, here are my top 10 lessons learned from my past failures that were well worth the price of admission (well, after I survived them, that is). Feel free to check out even more in Never Get a "Real" Job

10. No revenue, no business. Period. Build a sustainable business for yourself, and not one based on hypothetical acquisitions or imaginary investment capital. If your business can cut it, you may be able to buy other companies down the road or raise VC. But treating either path as a guaranteed strategy is simply stupid. Bottom line: Stop thinking about many tomorrows from now, and focus on today. Cash flow, or die.

9. You are not special, a winner, or guaranteed squat (and neither is your business). If you are human, guess what? You are still bound by the rules of Darwin's theory of evolution or, at the very least, Murphy's Law.  The worst thing you can do is fall for your own b.s., so stay focused, stop thinking you are a winner because you're excited and think your idea is brilliant, and go kick some real ass. 

8. How many things can you do perfectly? If your answer is anything other than one, and you are a small start-up on a shoe-string, guess what? You are an idiot. Rome wasn't built in a day, neither was Google. Both were built brick by brick, scaled and then, and only then, did they diversify. Keep your business plan simple, because if it's not simple, you're dead. 

7. Traditional business plans will bankrupt you. Don't get stuck in analysis paralysis! Business planning is not a revenue generating exercise. Execution is where the money is at. Write something short, sweet and to the point and get on with it. I always preach about my One Paragraph Start Up Plan as the best way to get started.

6. The worst case scenario is the only scenario. If you project 100 customers, you might get 10. If you predict a deal to close within 2 months, it might close in 12. The point is, you always need to be thinking about back up plans—and sometimes—back-up plans to your back-up plans. Don't rely on one way to do something, think about multiple paths. Cover yourself by thinking about alternatives at every turn and you'll become a much stronger decision maker. 

5. Divide your "lowest" financial assumptions or expectations by 4. Anything you think you will earn before you execute, well, probably won't happen. Financial forecasts are like little gremlins that sit on your shoulders whispering sweet nothings in your ear about upward climbing bell curves. Don't get stuck on a grandiose financial milestone. Focus on growing organically and covering your basic life expenses before you worry about a six-figure salary or ten-digit company revenues.

4. Strategic partners are not always good ideas. Before you bring on anyone as a business partner, determine if truly "partnering" is the best option. Decide if alternatives such as sharing revenue or doing a joint venture are a better fit. Make sure you know everything about the person you wish to partner with, from their political backgrounds to their business ethics. And if you decide to go ahead and bring on a partner, be sure to create an operating agreement that clearly states what happens in every possible outcome—from a partner leaving to a partner dying. 

3. Proof of concept isn't optional. No one is going to hand you a wad of cash and say, "Here, go follow your dreams and build the next big company." Banks rarely—if ever anymore—lend to start ups. Angels and VCs won't give you a second look. Bottom line: money people don't care if you are alive or dead until you are in the marketplace—and thriving. Do not waste a second on an idea that you truly cannot get off the ground in some way without someone else's resources. Think smaller before you try to go bigger. Get rid of the "phase 3" aspects of your idea before you can get "phase one" out the door. If you find yourself saying I can't launch my business without the whole ball of wax day one, hit yourself over the head with a blunt object until you gain some clarity.

2. Business growth happens in real time. You may want to get past all of the start-up crap, but you can't get to B until you get past A—and A takes time. There are no 6-minute start-up tricks or ways to get to your first million any faster. It takes time to build traction, brand awareness and a consumer base. Trying to get to B faster will only lead you to a weak A, and a weak A can take down the whole business. 

1. No matter how successful you are, accept that you will fail again. Failure is good. It will be your guide to smarter, better decisions. The faster you realize that your business will never be perfect and there is no such thing as smooth sailing, you'll grow as a leader as a result.

Five Ideation Dilemmas

From Evernote:

Five Ideation Dilemmas

Submitted by Gijs van Wulfen

The fuzzy front end of innovation confronts you with a lot of questions. In my new book 'Creating innovative Products and Services' I try to solve them. My last blog discussed X-factor ideas. But, how will you get ideas with the X-factor? There are at least five choices you have to make:

  1. When: now or later?
  2. Who: experts or internal team?
  3. What: revolutionary or evolutionary ideas?
  4. Which criteria to use?
  5. How: the creative or structured way?

1. When: now or later?

It is a fairy tale that companies innovate continuously. Of course there is a R&D or innovation department continuously working on new concepts. And a phase gate funnel full of new initiatives is monitored on a permanent basis. But the board will only approve real innovations and accept the necessary risks when they have to because all less risky instruments failed to grow the business.

The completion of the innovation process – from the idea to introducing it on the market, takes at least 18 months. So anticipating a change in the market is very important in order to lead your market and react timely. Even though you notice holes in the roof better during winter, it is more easy to make alterations during the summer. The ideation process can only succeed if the company has the financial and mental space in order to do this. If the board of directors and co-workers are under a lot of pressure you should think twice to start an ideation project. It is best to wait until the dust has settled.

2. Who: experts or internal team?

Is it not possible to create better ideas with a small group of experts than with a group of internal managers and co-workers? The answer could be yes. However, what is the use of brilliant ideas if there is no support in the organisation. So every idea might be rejected because of the 'not invented here' feeling. When your colleagues (who also play a role in the development and introduction process) participate in the ideation of their own innovations, it creates an enormous positive energy and creates speed, which is visible and helpful in the innovation delivery phase. For this reason I support a team approach. What's more motivating than making your own children yourselves?

3. What: revolutionary or evolutionary ideas?

Which ideas for a new product, service or business models should you aim for: revolutionary or evolutionary? Evolutionary ideas are typically "better" concepts: the better supermarket, the better car hire service or better detergent. It are often up-market innovations, which offer more at a higher price. Revolutionary concepts are really different. Consider the origin of TomTom. Existing manufacturers of built-in navigation systems focused their strategy on the automobile industry and dealers. From the start TomTom considered route planners as consumer electronics and thereby handled completely different criteria for the product, such as being mobile, easy to operate and cheap. The first Tom-Toms where half the price. In this way they opened a new market: the consumer market for route planners.

The type of innovation on which you should focus depends on your current role in the market and the characteristics of your company. If you are a market leader in an existing market, with low potential for growth, you should to dare to go for unique 'new-to-the-world' innovations. However, if you are a relatively small newcomer in an enormous growth market, then I can imagine you first want to conquer the existing market with new and improved versions.

4. Which criteria to use?

Often an ideation project is started because a senior director said: we have to come up with something new. And then it is up to you. And how often did you experience that when you came back with list of innovative business ideas none of them were accepted? It's very hard to meet fuzzy expectations. So to be successful you have to appoint clear criteria the new ideas have to meet before you start. Just ask your Board member questions like:

  • How much turnover must the new concept realise?
  • And what's the minimum profit margin?
  • Should the new concept be new to the market, new to the country or new to the world?
  • Is there a specific target group or market is should be aimed at?
  • To what extent should the new product concept be the talk of the town among potential customers?
  • To what extent should the new product concept fit the current brand values?
  • Are we obliged to make the new product concept ourselves (with our own manufacturing facilities) or can we look for partners?

Making expectations explicit before you start. It will give you focus.

5. How: the creative or structured way?

Creativity plays a major role ideating new innovative concepts. A lot of people think you can only be creative if you do not have to consider any constraints. So you can really think outside the box. I agree you cannot discover new oceans unless you lose sight of the existing shore. But your organisation is not waiting for crazy ideas only. It's looking for ideas, which will have to meet the criteria we just discussed. Therefore you need an ideation process to get you to concrete mini new business cases, which will be attractive and deployable for your organisation. And creativity alone will not get you there. You need a structured approach: one in which creativity is well facilitated.

In my next blog on Innovation Excellence I will describe a structured 5 step way to realise ideation projects successfully, which is called FORTH. The FORTH innovation method is an acronym and stands for Full steam ahead, Observe and Learn, Raise ideas, Test ideas and Homecoming. It is an inspiring practical method in five steps to create new products and services.

Published on Friday, April 29th by Cian O’ Sullivan

From Evernote:

Published on Friday, April 29th by Cian O’ Sullivan

Published on Friday, April 29th by Cian O' Sullivan

Ace Marketing & Promotions, Inc. announced today they have signed an exclusive rights agreement with a Top Mall Developer to create a location-based mobile marketing network called Mobiquity Networks. The 50 mall agreement runs through December of 2015 and includes top malls in the portfolio. This new alliance will give advertisers the opportunity to reach millions of mall visitors per month with mobile digital content and offers when they are most receptive to advertising messages.

In connection with Eye Corp (The largest in Mall Advertiser in the US), Mobiquity Networks will deliver digital content and offers to shoppers on their mobile devices through Eye Corp's extensive Mall Advertising Network. Eye Corp and Mobiquity Networks have an exclusive agreement to build a location-based mobile marketing network throughout Eye Corp's Mall Advertising network.

New properties to be added to the Mobiquity Networks portfolio will include iconic malls in the top DMA's in the US. These prestigious malls further complement Mobiquity Networks' already impressive portfolio of prominent malls including Queens Center Mall in New York City, Northbridge in Chicago, and Santa Monica Place in Los Angeles. The Company plans to make a joint press release with its new mall partner in the near future.

Ace's Location-Based Mobile advertising medium is designed to reach on-the-go shoppers via their mobile devices with free rich media content delivered using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. This advertising medium offers extremely targeted messaging engineered to engage and influence shoppers as they move about the mall environment. Eye Corp, along with Ace Marketing, will jointly create mobile marketing programs for existing clients in conjunction with their already active in mall advertising programs.

Mobiquity Networks proximity marketing units are strategically positioned in shopping malls near entrances, anchor stores, escalators and other high-traffic, and high dwell-time areas.

Mobiquity Networks proximity marketing unit placement takes advantage of the opportunity to provide a reminder to consumers and touch them just before making a purchase decision. These units generate high awareness and brand recognition at the right time and place. When combined with the impact of other visual advertising mediums (in mall assets) or as a stand-alone medium, Mobiquity Networks is a great mobile solution to promote a brand on a local or national level.

Sean Trepeta, President of Mobiquity Networks stated, "We have been working extremely hard over the past couple of years proving the model with successful campaigns for MACY's, the NHL, Madison Square Garden, Def Leppard and Dunkin Donuts to name a few…… the time is right for this type of location-based mobile network in the US. Knowing our new mall relationship will give us the ability to be in front of potentially 50 million new mall visits per month is extremely exciting for us and our advertising partners. The mobile market is growing at an amazing rate and mobile phones have become an extension of the person and how they function on a daily basis. We expect Mobiquity Networks to be the premier gateway for brands to reach consumers by the masses and deliver meaningful timely content on a location-based mobile marketing platform."


About Cian O' Sullivan

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10 Business Plan Dos and Don'ts

From Evernote:

10 Business Plan Dos and Don'ts

Insights from a judge at Harvard Business School's Business Plan Contest

By David Ronick | 

Each year, I help fellow entrepreneurs and investors judge the MBA business plan competition at Harvard Business School. This year, I noted which pitch approaches seemed to work best and which tactics fell flat.

Here are five things that worked in this year's presentations—and that you should consider including in your next business plan pitch:

1. Bookends The best pitches started and ended with the same 30-second, crystal clear explanation of what was to come: The customers, their needs, the solution, and the amount of capital sought.  That helped the judges process and remember everything in between.

2. Comparables At some point in most pitches, judges think to themselves, "Will this really work?" The best way to convince them is to show that you're already getting results. If you are just starting out, another powerful approach is to cite real world comparables. For example, if your exit strategy is to sell your company to P&G, tell us how they recently bought companies similar to the one you are planning, for how much, and why.

3. Emotion Every student used logic. But the winners built on that logic with an appeal to emotions. Winners brought their arguments to life, using examples, stories, or short demonstrations. Judges could sense their passion, and imagine how their customers would feel.

4. Market Research The best competitors really understood their markets and taught us about them. They explained what parts of their industries were growing and why. That gave the judges insights and perspective, which helped us evaluate their pitches. Not to mention, it also gave us confidence in the teams.

5. Proof of Demand Last but not least, the best teams had clearly been out in the field, talking with and listening to customers. They shared customer comments, survey results, and data collected from interviews and test market campaigns. In short, they convinced the judges that customers wanted their products. There were also five business plan pitch tactics that the losing teams had in common—and that you should avoid:

1. Text Overload Great slides make complex ideas simple and abstract ideas tangible, using numbers, diagrams, or pictures. But for the most part, words in pitches are best when spoken, not written. So stick to writing the headlines and telling us the details.

2. Too Much Focus on Product We're judging your business, not just your product. So don't focus simply on what you're selling. You should also keep in mind that you'll probably wind up changing certain aspects of your product once you put it in front of customers and see what they think.  So if your pitch is 15 minutes long, don't spend more than two of those minutes on your products.

3. Passive Research It's good to use some statistics in your presenation (e.g. "The market is growing at 10 percent."), but reserve the details and sources for backup slides. Don't base your entire business plan on quantitative research. Be sure to show that you've gotten out of the library and have gathered some qualitative research by talking to potential customers. "We interviewed 50 customers and they said…" carries much more weight than "A study showed…"

4. Overlooked Execution A start-up idea by itself is pretty much worthless; it's all about the execution. The weakest teams underestimated how much time and money it would take to develop and tweak a product, or they outright failed to think through how they'd attract customers in a cost-effective, repeatable way. So be sure to spend time really thinking about and researching how to properly execute your idea.

5. Lack of Authenticity Stick to what you know and care about. One team pitched an idea related to parenting, but didn't include even one story or picture of a child anywhere in their pitch. As a result, it felt like the team wasn't truly passionate about parenting—even though that probably was not the case. Ironically, some of the best business ideas in this year's competition rated poorly with the judges because they simply weren't pitched well. It's important to understand that pitch tactics can make a huge difference in how well your business plan is received. So be sure to take your good idea, and turn it into a great pitch.

David Ronick is co-founder of UpStart Bootcamp, an organization that helps entrepreneurs launch their businesses with on-demand courses and private coaching.