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Once upon a time if you wanted to start a company you have two choices. Hit up your Dad for the cash or shlep down to the bank where you would sign a second on your only real asset: your house (IF you had one). You also had the choice to go see a “Uncle Vinnie” or someone similar who always seemed to have cash and the requisite thugs laying around. In the 80’s Venture Capitalism took the dreams of Silicon Valley and entrepreneurs and funded them into cash making machines with little respect to the original ideals of the founder. Conversely, it used to be if you wanted to publish a book, you had to know someone. Or spend years in Paris getting to know other artists who might connect you accordingly. Then came blogging. Suddenly, being a writer was a very democratic opportunity. If people loved your blog, you might just get a book deal. Today’s writers can say “no thanks” to publishing houses if they want..but the truth is that there is still more money to be made in having a book published than there is on running a blog.
Its not news that lots of businesses are integrating social media into their marketing, customer service and product development goals. But today, entrepreneurs and writers are making social media part of their business model. In otherwords, if it weren’t for social media, the business itself might not even exist. Over the last month, I’ve come across three such enterprises, two in my home of Hawaii and one mainland writer who is taking publishing into his own hands in a brilliant way. I wanted to introduce them to you to see if it got your own juices flowing.
Taking the idea of winning on an online auction to the social level. If you want an item, you say so, then ask your friends to support your cause. Brilliant really, if you think about it. The site is still in beta, but there are products up there for the begging already. Its highly addictive and pretty smart. The site’s idea is pure social – forget about the money, if you have the most votes for the winning bid, your in like flyn! BUT, you gotta work for it. You can use whatever medium you’d like, writing, movie making or photos, but you have to prove to the audience that your worthy. And maybe, just MAYBE your creative pleading and begging will go viral too..ensuring you win the item and giving you your 15 minutes of fame in the process. Can’t you just see “Begfor.it” stars being created?
The site is entirely self-funded by its founder, Tim Parsons, so he himself isn’t afraid to do a little “begging” if you like the idea this soloprenuer has put up, you can donate to support the further development of the site. (full disclosure: I’ve done a little consulting work with Tim and Begfor.it) Twitter: @begforit Hashtag: #begforit Facebook Page: Begforit
As a character and a story get fleshed out on a blog, the author, Brian Meeks continues to push his development of a character, a brand and his own social media prowess, by creating a Facebook profile for the business of the main character (Henry Wood). It doesn’t hurt that Brian’s writing is as wicked as a whip and the main character, Henry is the sworn bachelor you hate to love. The Facebook page currently includes updates from the author on various processes, but it has the potential to be the brand portal for the Detective Agency. I have a feeling that the only think stopping this Facebook from being completely fleshed out are time limitations for an author whose breaking new ground by publishing his blog serial to Kindle, Ipad and maybe even an actual book. If you want to read the book, you can shoot Brian a tweet or ping him on his blog. He’ll send you a copy if you’ll agree to giving feedback (full disclosure: I’m on chapter 3). But the thing that really sets Brian apart from the rest of the publishing world is that he gets social media and he’s challenging the publishing world to play by HIS rules by creating demand for his writing and stories before he is officially “published” but what does that mean to a guy like Brian anyway who goes beyond the blog to publish in a self-made socially empowered way everyday.
Starting a company that manufacturers a product in a sustainable/green way is gutsy. Raising initial round of funding exclusively through social media and a website called KickStarter is really putting it on the line. But Juicies is taking risks and making social media an integral part of the start-up process. The product is actually simple: colorful cords that work with your Apple products like Iphone and Ipad. Founder Laurens Laudowicz started by asking for $5000 to get samples made from one of only a couple manufactures in China who manufacture in a sustainable way. But Laurens was shocked to learn what the minimum quantity is for the initial order (10,000 feet!), so even though over 1000 donors have blown away his initial request of $5,000, he’s leaving it open for another two weeks. Those who donate to get the company started will get their very own Juicie when they are released and you’ll get the feel good vive is helping an entrepreneur break the mold, literally . After you donate what you think you can give, don’t forget to participate in the product development cycle, by voting for the color you think they should develop by using the #juicies hashtag on Twitter. As an homage to the 12 year old girl in me, I voted for piiiiiiiink and glitter..I also revealed that I still believe in Unicorns too. But, I don’t think I’ll be able to plug my Juicies into a Unicorn anytime soon..I’ll have to settle for one of my many Apple products.
One of the cool ways that Juicies is using social media, besides the pleas for investment is that through KickStarter, Facebook and Twitter, you can really follow the development of this product. Laurens is totally transparent about his ideas and his challenges and he’s as real on the content sites as he is in person. What’s super smart about using Kickstarter, and asking people for their color ideas is the opportunity to create advocates for the brand before the product even exists. When the product does launch (and I personally think its a matter if “when”, not “if”) then over 1,000 people will be take to their social media outlets to talk about their Juicie product and how they helped start the company.#Luvit
What other businesses have you seen using social media as an integral part of the start-up process? I’d love to see and hear about more! If I get enough, maybe I’ll do another blog post on this topic, I really enjoyed digging into these companies and sharing them with you!