Thursday, April 30, 2009

Angel groups requiring entrepreneurs to pay to pitch

Where should entrepreneurs invest their resources?There's no doubt there are a lot of entrepreneurs with ideas that range from incredible to terrible, for the most part seeking seed funding with angel groups, who have to somehow accomodate them all.
Also, a lot can been said about northeastern investors being somewhat more conservative than their west-coast collegues, seeking more 'sciense projects' more than mashups.

Today I've heard of another northeastern angel group requiring startups to pay to pitch. It's not a 5-digit number, but it is a 3 digit number for one, and 4-digit for the other. I'm sure there's a very good reason for it, that I'm not aware of. I'm sure this is not an expense that the average investor group can not self-manage. Is it a tool to filter entrepreneurs? And if so, does this mean that investors think successful entrepreneurs are the ones who can afford handing money over to investors (which sounds to me somewhat reversed)?

It just strikes me that entrepreneurs need to focus on making progress at their business, and put every resource they can into it, including, or perhaps, especially money.
Angels asking entrepreneurs to pay to pitch is, well, beyond me. Sorry.

At the same breath I'd like to mention a highly popular recent thread that's talking about more focus into students who have great ideas (Here's one, two and there's more): (Scott Kirsner) "the biggest way to make Boston more competitive and innovative right now is to do a better job connecting students with our innovation economy"
I've nothing against that, given the incredible things that are coming out of the MIT's of the world. At the same breath, though, there is something to be said about experienced workers seeing something they could do better and pursuing it. One thing that stands for them, at least, is their experience and knowledge.
I don't think it's the one or the other, but the almost-exclusive focus on grads is slightly missing the point IMO.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Please, NO: Inflight Wireless slowly but surely moving down the runway

ABI Research has a piece today about how onboard wireless access is becoming mainstream. Yay. 
I haven't flown in quite a while, however I find the following quote inaccurate and frankly annoying:
"The inflight wireless market that has been trapped by a groundless sense of fear of being stuck next to a perennially chatty person who will not put the phone down. The reality is inflight communications charges will keep all but the very seriously wealthy off the phone for long periods of time."

This is SO wrong. You're right, not everyone and their sister would start jabbing, but the business travellers stuck in economy and able to spend more of the company's budget would love to "get productive". Kids with phones sitting next to their parents who, frankly, would pay for them to get occupied would start jabbing, and the list goes on. So great, you've identified a sector who wouldn't start jabbing, but you opened a world of jabbers for an red eye flight. Tomorrow's gonna be SO productive for you!

The next section is even better:  
"In this world of anytime, anywhere communications, it is maddening one cannot send txt messages or browse the internet and check email. Concerns over interfence and security have been shown to be without merit."
Oh, I'm sorry. Wifi anyone? Why do you have to provide a telephone communicaiton system? you can text (and recieve) messages from your PC, without interrupting your neighbors, and get productive. Why isn't Wifi good enough?

It's a poor decision IMO. I hope the airlines will pull it down before there's a passenger backlash. This is an intimate environment where many people have to get along. There's no reason to challenge that, to satisfy a technology looking for a business.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Too good to be true? MMA convinces carriers to merge best-practice playbook

Reading this morning's Mobile Marketer news from CTIA, MMA seems to think they can get the carriers to sign up for a single playbook. Healthy skepticism, but boy, if they do get the carriers to let go, just for a bit, then it's great news!

Read the article here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The devil you know

I'm reading this morning an outstanding productive brief from Mobile Marketer. The very first article is titled "Per-message carrier fees killing SMS marketing: CTIA panel".

Interestingly, the article ends with the right conclusion, which is that meaningful interaction with the audience is the solution to drive higher ROI from mobile marketing campaigns, especially those that require financial investment like SMS.

However, I feel the title of the article and the beginning of it does little justice to the context, the operators and the whole mobile marketing space. (And I'm not a fan of US carriers SMS policies by any stretch of imagination).

At the end of the day you can quarrel all day with the operators over pennies. Reality is, that those pennies actually make SMS still a highly attractive mobile marketing platform for brands as it has still not been invaded by everyone and their wives. Because there's a financial barrier (BTW, if you want to point any fingers, how about those outrageous financial requirements to get a dedicated shortcode by Neustar. $1K/month for what exactly?). If there wasn't one, you'd see growing number of automated and behavioral blocking elements similar to the ones we have today on email and web.

No, the revenue margin needs to come from brands and advertisers who are, in fact, seeking effective access to their audience with new tools like mobile. They have the money to spend, once seeing that this channel works. And so currently the expenditure on mobile advertising, compared to TV, for example, is experimental by nature. I heard someone say recently "I've never heard of anyone in an agency loose their job over spending their budget on TV advertising".

The question then, is whose job is it to bring the advertisers down from the fence their sitting on, show them the value and push this market forward. The answer to that question, of course, is the mobile marketers. HipCricket, iLoop, Adva Mobile and others.

And so it's not helpful to pressure the operators seeking for higher margins, we should create those margins on the other side. If anything, by applying pressure on the operators, we're asking them for a new business model that could be just as bad, if not worse.