Posts tagged Startup

10 Things to Consider Before Your Startup Acquires a Competitor

Guest author Scott Gerber is founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council.

Let’s face it: acquisitions are stressful. From audits and fine print to non-competes and company culture, there are many details to navigate before either making an acquisition or being acquired. Add your competitor into the mix, and things can get complicated.

To make sure you’re making the right decision when you acquire a competitor, I asked 10 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what one piece of advice they would give an entrepreneur in this situation.

Have A Narrowly Defined Non-Compete Provision

We have helped with dozens of acquisitions, and one of the biggest issues is whether the seller will be prohibited from participating in competing ventures. If you are looking to acquire a competitor, pay particular attention not only to the duration and geographic scope of the non-compete restrictions, but also the definition of a “competing venture.”

The very last thing you want to do is to provide the jet fuel for your competitor’s next venture, particularly if that new venture will hurt the business you just acquired.

Doug Bend, Bend Law Group

Don’t Be Afraid To Listen

I have only acquired one competitor in the past. When I approached the subject with them, we sat down at a table. I asked him if he’d be interested in selling and just listened. I literally asked 2-3 questions in 2-3 hours. I just listened and he told me everything I needed to know to be able to get the best price possible.

Being able to sit and listen is hard. Ask a question and wait for their answer. Don’t be afraid of silence. After I asked that question, he took almost 2 minutes to answer (silence). I learned some things that I would have never known had I been asking tons of questions.

Peter Daisyme, Host

Do Your Due Diligence

Assuming that you’re already in tentative agreement, make sure that you have a very good understanding of the competitor’s financial position (accounting records should be prepared in accordance with GAAP), tangible and intangible assets, corporate governance, contracts covering business partnerships, legal records and founder agreements, plus HR documentation.

David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

Do A Technology Audit

Before acquiring a competitor, or any company for that matter, make sure to do a comprehensive technology audit to make sure that the technical know-how and assets will indeed be transferrable and easy to integrate with your existing technology. This audit usually comes as part of a due diligence process after you sign preliminary paperwork, so make sure to really dive into the details and ask all the technical questions upfront so there is no ambiguity over the value it will bring after the acquisition is complete.

Doreen Bloch, Poshly

Ask Yourself, “Will It Help My User Base?”

Your revenue comes from your users, period. Does acquiring the competitor whose business you’re considering buying actually help them? Does it deliver value to them? The last thing you want to do is alienate or confuse your existing client base.

In a related vein, ask yourself if the competitor’s users will be loyal to your company, or if you’ll lose them as well. You can always build up the flow of business again, but an acquisition that makes you lose months or years of accumulated goodwill from your existing and new customer base might have a much higher cost than just the money you pay for the other company.

Dave Nevogt,

Consider All Of The Details

You need to evaluate the pros and cons of the acquisition. You also need to assess how many acquisitions in your space have been successful and added real value to the company’s bottom line.

There are several factors to consider: corporate cultures, technology platforms, integration process and timeline. Why am I considering this specific acquisition and is this something that I can do cheaper and easier in-house?

You also need to consider employee attrition (both physical and mental). Even if acquired employees are subject to lock-up agreements and contracts, this does not preclude them from mentally checking out.

Joseph DiTomaso, AllTheRooms

Trust Your Advisors

Acquiring a competitor is sexy. You immediately become the big fish. Because it’s such an exciting time, the details of the deal often are ignored. Getting the opinions of outsiders and looking at the facts can help temper your emotions. Trust your advisors, and do twice the due diligence you think is necessary.

Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal

Look At The Motives

Determine the real reason the company is for sale. That might be that the founder made so much money that he wants to retire and spend time with his family, but often that is not the case. People sugarcoat the facts, and it’s often not until too late that you discover a fatal flaw. A customer list alone is not reason enough to acquire, whereas trade secrets, IP and exceptional talent are.

Gideon Kimbrell, InList

Stick to the Cold Hard Facts

Entrepreneurs are very sensitive about their business. They may not necessarily lie, but they will always tell the best version of the truth. Do not listen to stories or relationships, and stick to the cold hard facts. 

Make sure to have a third-party independent auditor go through the books. Meet with employees to get a good feel for the operation. Do not have confirmation bias and believe what you are told without the facts to verify.

Adam Stillman, SparkReel

Look For A Good Culture Fit

Make sure there is a culture fit and that everyone is on the same page. Even if you acquire the company for its product or its customers, the success of the acquisition will ultimately come down to how well the two teams merge together. Before making any final agreements, talk about what the future will look like, get both executive teams on board with the vision and make sure this attitude trickles down to all employees.

Ben Rubenstein, Yodle

Photo by Daniel Oines

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SEO For Startup Companies: How One Tech Company Nailed It – Business 2 Community

Business 2 Community
SEO For Startup Companies: How One Tech Company Nailed It
Business 2 Community
You create demand in social media, but you capture demand and steal market share via SEO and your website. Yet even to this day big companies and tech companies often overlook SEO fundamentals. No matter how innovative or a disruptive a new …
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3 Up-and-Coming SEO Trends for 2015Tech Cocktail -iMedia Connection (blog) -Khaleej Times
all 15 news articles »

View full post on SEO – Google News

PayPal’s Startup Guys Have Seized The Company’s Reins

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, PayPal announced it plans to roll out tap-to-pay NFC payments in the UK and Australia this summer, and has acquired a company which developed a rival group’s retail payments service.

But the real news, ReadWrite has learned, is a reorganization by Dan Schulman, the company’s new president, who will become CEO after the payments company spins off from eBay. Schulman has elevated two executives, Hill Ferguson and Bill Ready, to posts running the company’s consumer and merchant businesses respectively.

Significantly, Ferguson and Ready are both executives who joined PayPal in recent years through acquisitions of startups. Ferguson, previously PayPal’s chief product officer, worked at Zong, a mobile-payments company, and Ready ran Braintree, which PayPal acquired in 2014.

Braintree specialized in a fast-growing category of merchants—Web and mobile-app developers. Increasingly, though, large retailers are interested in the same kind of services Braintree and PayPal has provided to app developers. 

PayPal Acquires Again In Mobile Payments

That’s part of the reason why PayPal announced Monday that it was acquiring Paydiant, a Massachusetts-based software developer which has developed mobile wallets for Subway and Teeter Harris, among other retailers, as well as for MCX, the retailer group which includes Walmart and Best Buy.

The Paydiant buy immediately poses a problem for Ready to solve: Can he woo MCX’s large retailers, who want to lower the fees they currently pay to payment processors like PayPal?

Ferguson has a different challenge, which is boosting PayPal’s reach among consumers. While PayPal has a large customer base, there are a host of rival mobile wallets, including Apple Pay and Google Wallet, which recently beefed up its capabilities by buying technology from an erstwhile rival, Softcard.

PayPal is adding NFC capabilities to its PayPal Here mobile card reader, which currently can read swiped cards or newer credit and debit cards with chips. Apple Pay uses NFC. While it accounts for a small percentage of total transactions, the payment service has spurred demand by merchants for NFC-capable card equipment. 

Supporting NFC is just one of many moves PayPal is making to make its payments attractive to consumers and merchants alike. Ferguson and Ready will have their hands full.

Photo courtesy of PayPal

View full post on ReadWrite

Weighing the pros and cons of SEO for a startup –
Weighing the pros and cons of SEO for a startup
Most entrepreneurs understand the importance of SEO (search engine optimisation) and how it can lead to business growth. Without a doubt, SEO is important for any business of any size. But the question is — does it make economic sense for a startup to …
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View full post on SEO – Google News

This Startup Wants To Lock Up Your Collaborations

If security is the first, second and third priority for your business, then does a Vancouver startup have a collaboration suite for you.

Witkit, founded three years ago by serial entrepreneur Sean Merat, aims to offer multiple enterprise software functions—messaging, groups, file-sharing, etc.—under one roof. Most important, it plans to do so securely, by encrypting your data so that neither the company nor anyone else can read it.

Why a suite? Merat said that in the course of running prior companies, he felt overwhelmed by the number of disparate solutions for work collaboration. 

“There were too many solutions,” he said in an interview with ReadWrite. “Stuff like Hipchat, Dropbox, Evernote…. Individually they’re all great, but the problem becomes when you’re trying to juggle too many things.” So together with two co-founders, Sohrab Merat and Ma’en Haq, Merat started Witkit.

Security First

Witkit’s Sean Mirat

This concept isn’t brand new—Huddle, for instance, is also based on an all-in-one functionality. Where Witkit plans to make a name for itself is security—in particular, by encrypting all data on the user end (using a technique the company too-cutely calls “Witcrypt”) and storing it on the Witkit server in protected fashion. 

What that means, a Merat explained in a Witkit press release (no link), is this:

Witcrypt technology ensures that the encryption and decryption of user data is only done on user devices locally. All data that is sent to the Witkit servers is fully encrypted and can only be decrypted by the user’s WitCrypt passphrase.

In his interview with ReadWrite, Merat argued that end-to-end encryption for all functions of a work suite—file sharing, group discussions, calendars, cloud storage, instant messaging, etc.—is Witkit’s main selling point. With all data encrypted, he said, a company or organization could have online group discussions with members from outside that company as well as internal discussion channels without worrying about compromising security. Witkit calls these virtual discussion spaces “kits.”

Locked In A Box

Of course, the drawback of any suite like this one is that you have to be happy with all the components. If you like Witkit’s security and calendar but aren’t crazy about its messaging, you’re still stuck with it. And at this point, it’s impossible to say how Witkit’s individual services stack up.

But Navid Soofi, the founder and president of Qube Film studios in Vancouver, has been using Witkit in a beta form for several months. The security aspect of it has been the primary allure.

“Cyber security has been a very prominent concern in my industry the past few months,” Soofi said in an email interview, making an obvious allusion to the major Sony hack in December. He continued:

My team and I have been actively looking for secure ways to sync files, records, documents and conversations. I can confidently say that Witkit fitted the bill perfectly. Our IT team has gone through the security code that has been made public by Witkit and reassured me that our conversations, contracts and footage would be as secure as keeping everything offline.

Merat said Witkit is in the process of having its code, which it has also posted on Github for public perusal, audited by another company for any vulnerabilities. Witkit has no definite plans for making money quite yet. Right now, all the features and storage will be free. 

“We can confidently say that we’re not going to charge for what we’re offering today,” Merat said. “The base functionality up to 50GB will always be free.” He said the company would wait to develop a strong user base and develop revenue streams based on their feedback. Witkit has received $5 million in funding so far. 

Lead photo by Anonymous Account; photo of Sean Mirat courtesy of Witkit

View full post on ReadWrite

Looking To Share Secret Photos On Facebook? This Startup May Help

One of the big drawbacks to using “secret” or secure messaging is that everyone you want to contact needs to be using the same service. Even when they are, there’s usually no easy way to share something with large numbers of your pals where they’re most likely to see it, in a way that keeps it for-their-eyes-only.

See also: Suddenly, Messages Are Disappearing All Over—On Purpose

You might think that’s a natural tradeoff between security—that is, preventing the wrong people from seeing your texts or photos—and convenience. But Wickr, a service that lets you send secure, self-destructing messages, thinks it has an answer—by letting users post a “fake” photo to Facebook that will lead other Wickr users you trust to the real thing.

Starting today, Wickr users on Apple devices will be able to share self-destructing photos with up to 151 of their closest friends using a feature the service calls Wickr Timed Feed, or WTF—and that acronym probably isn’t an accident—that combines cats, ephemerality, and a little sleight of hand. (Android and desktop versions are in the works.)

WTF, Wickr

At heart, WTF is basically just an ephemeral photo-sharing service that lets users annotate and share snaps that will self-destruct in 24 hours. This is not too different from Snapchat, although Wickr uses security techniques designed to keep the photos from sticking around after they’re supposed to disappear.

What’s new is the way WTF aims to let you post private photo feeds on Facebook so that only your intended recipients can see them. When you share a WTF feed with other Wickr-using friends, it will ask if you want to post it on Facebook. If you do, the service will post a random cat photo instead of what you’re actually sharing. Clicking on that photo will open up Wickr, where the friends you’ve shared with will be able to see the hidden message. Everyone else on Facebook sees only the decoy cat photos.

Here’s Wickr’s promo video of the feature:

Security Hype 101

WTF is a clever way of snaking around the usual security/convenience tradeoff, but it’s not completely foolproof. It also doesn’t quite live up to Wickr’s security hype.

Wickr has claimed the hashtag #stegocat for this campaign, since it considers WTF an example of steganography, an ancient technique in which secret messages are hidden in plain sight. Some modern examples of steganography include hidden pixels in printers which reveal printer serial numbers as well as time and date stamps, digital watermarks used in ebooks, and, of course, Russian spies who were caught hiding secret images in photos.

Wickr Timed Feed, though, isn’t really steganography; the shared images aren’t embedded within the decoy kitty pics. Instead, they just link back to the Wickr app itself. That doesn’t really affect how the service works. But it’s a little unsettling when a service that prides itself on its security chops feels compelled to co-opt a technical security term in a misleading way for marketing purposes.

In a similarly disconcerting fashion, Wickr has long billed itself as a good privacy app for human rights activists working to fight dictators, claims that are difficult to verify. Unlike competitors such as Silent Circle, Open Whisper Systems, and CryptoCat, Wickr uses proprietary cryptography, making it difficult for security experts to assess the quality of its code—or to know if anyone has built secret back doors in it.

Wickr CEO and co-founder Nico Sell says the startup used proprietary code to give itself a commercial head start. She points to four independent security audits the app has passed, as well as Wickr’s large hacker budget and $100,000 bug bounty for anyone who can find vulnerabilities that severely impact users.

Wickr has recently added a feature on its app in which users can verify each other’s identities by reading their personal key codes via video, and is working on revising a white paper properly documenting its security protocols in response to feedback from security experts.

What Facebook Knows

Sell says she got the idea for WTF from her daughter. “I have two kids, and one of them is a teenager, and a couple of years ago, she said, ‘Hey, Mom, I know you don’t approve of Facebook, but I’d love for you to find a way for me to use it safely,’” Sell recalls.

Of course, convincing users that it’s OK to post secret—read, naughty or gossipy or otherwise revealing—photos on Facebook, even disguised as cat photos, could take some doing. Sell argues that Facebook only sees who’s using Wickr, but not what they’re sharing.

“Facebook is only going to own the pictures of the kitty cats,” Sell says. “Their servers will never see your real pictures.” WTF offers one further advantage: It lets Wickr users share with more than ten people at once, sidestepping a limitation in the direct messaging app.

As with most other “ephemeral” messaging services, it’s also still possible for Wickr users to screencap secret photos or to make permanent copies using another camera. But Sell argues that any ephemeral protection is better than none.

“It’s not usually in the beginning of a relationship where someone is trying to screw you over, right?” she says. “It’s a lot further down the line.” Which makes a kind of sense, although you could also argue that receiving a bunch of short-lived photos from a new romantic partner might just increase the temptation to save them off.

Lead photo by Jessica Keating Photography; other images courtesy of Wickr

View full post on ReadWrite

9 Unique Ideas for Onboarding New Startup Hires

Guest author Scott Gerber is founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council.

The last thing an employee wants to feel on their first day of work is lost and confused. Each company should have an organized, specific system in place to make the onboarding process go as smoothly as possible.

To learn more about how to make this possible, we polled nine entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) on unique ways they welcome and orient new hires. Their answers are below.

Have Them Spend Time In Customer Service

Each person in our company spends two to three weeks in customer service and support. We want everyone to be able to jump into this position if needed. This also helps every person in the company know our product and what our real customers are saying. It also helps the C-level executives get to know almost every person in the company and truly understand what they are going through.

In addition, we make every person spend 40 hours a quarter in customer services—even the CEO. This engrains in them that we’re all about our customers.

John Rampton, Host

Hold Informal Second-Round Interviews

Typically when a company employs a multi-tiered interviewing process, they use the second-round to ramp up intensity. I take the opposite approach. During the first interview I ask the typical questions; and then, if I feel the candidate has potential, I invite them out to dinner or happy hour.

I do this for a number of reasons. First of all, my work environment is informal and seeing the person in that context gives me an idea of how they might fit in. Another reason is that a laid-back setting can help lower an applicants defenses and be more open and honest. I’m really not interested in hearing about your biggest weakness (which is inevitably somehow a strength in disguise). I want to hear about your hobbies and quirks and (most importantly) what makes me want to work with you every day?

Brian Honigman,

Hold A Scavenger Hunt

To preserve that “everyone knows each other” vibe our company enjoyed back when we were a smaller team, we’ve developed an in-depth scavenger hunt for new employees that encourages them to meet and talk to other people at the company to find out their interests, hobbies, nicknames and professional functions. It’s helped preserve our company culture as we grow our numbers.

Jeff Fernandez, Grovo Learning

Make Sure There’s A Welcoming Environment

For new hires the most stressful part of a new job is the nerves around all of the unknown and all the “new”: new faces, new programs, new systems. We try to make each individual feel welcome by making their desk on their first day feel like home.

We ready the desk with fun office supplies, write a hand-written welcome note and, depending on the season, have fresh flowers waiting for them on their desk. Making a new hire feel welcomed and appreciated from the moment they arrive sets the tone with how your team will work together moving forward.

Kim Kaupe, Zine Pak

Start With The “Why”

We do our two day onboarding where we teach the strength finders, our core values, and our “why.” We watch TED talks, have a company-wide team-building event and weave in an interactive training. It is very well received.

Darius Mirshahzadeh, Endeavor America Loan Services

Fly Everyone in for a Team Meeting

We spend a couple of days together so they can take part in critical team operations and we can have dinners and drinks together.

Eric Schaumburg,

Hold A Company-Wide Lunch

Whenever we have a new hire, I always buy lunch for the whole team on their first day. Lunch together allows the new person to meet everyone in an informal manner and share a little bit about themselves.

It allows them an opportunity to identify people who they have common interests with and could converse with later. By the end of the day, the newly hired employee feels like they know everyone and the anxiety of meeting new co-workers is gone.

Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders

Connect Them to Our Core Mission

It’s easy for a new hire to get tunnel vision around learning the tasks of their job, and in doing so, lose sight of where they fit into the vision of the company. During their first week, every new hire—from analysts to customer service—spends an hour with our logistics team packing a product box for shipment.

We do this so they stay connected to our mission and experience what our customers receive after making the decision to use our products.

Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia

Use LearnCore

Onboarding a new employee can be a long and difficult process. The software LearnCore is great, especially for sales teams. Employees learn faster and can get feedback as well. It’s very efficient.

Adam Stillman, SparkReel

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

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British hacker Gary McKinnon launches SEO start-up –

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View full post on SEO – Google News

Facebook Acquires Top Voice Recognition Startup, Speech Commands Coming? by @mattsouthern, a Y combinator startup founded 18 months ago, has been acquired by Facebook with the intent for the company to help the social network create an API for building voice-controlled interfaces. Facebook could potentially work together with’s development team to create voice controlled tools, such as a voice-to-text input for Messenger. This acquisition could also further Facebook’s understanding of semantic voice search, and maybe even lead to a Facebook app that could be controlled entirely with one’s voice. boasts a team of 6,000 developers who have collectively built hundreds of apps. Its platform will continue to remain […]

The post Facebook Acquires Top Voice Recognition Startup, Speech Commands Coming? by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Facebook Acquires Top Voice Recognition Startup, Speech Commands Comming? by @mattsouthern, a Y combinator startup founded 18 months ago, has been acquired by Facebook with the intent for the company to help the social network create an API for building voice-controlled interfaces. Facebook could potentially work together with’s development team to create voice controlled tools, such as a voice-to-text input for Messenger. This acquisition could also further Facebook’s understanding of semantic voice search, and maybe even lead to a Facebook app that could be controlled entirely with one’s voice. boasts a team of 6,000 developers who have collectively built hundreds of apps. Its platform will continue to remain […]

The post Facebook Acquires Top Voice Recognition Startup, Speech Commands Comming? by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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