Posts tagged Startup
Think Like A Startup: Five Ways To Boost Your SEO Strategy
In garages, dorm rooms, and basements all around the world, people are bringing their business ideas to life. But this surge of entrepreneurial energy isn't limited to actual startups. Big brands like Coca-Cola and Red Bull are adopting lean and agile …
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Starting a business and selling your product is a daunting prospect in itself. But the intermediate steps of attracting customers and convincing them of your product’s worth can stop you in your tracks long before you get anywhere near the break-even point. A much-quoted study by Forrester Research found that for every $92 spent on acquiring website traffic, a measly $1 is spent on optimizing it. (Page 9, Endnote 3) This post assumes you fully understand the importance of optimizing every page of your website for conversion. While there are umpteen beginners’ guides and advanced blogs that spell out every little […]
The post A Startup Owner’s Black Book of Web Conversion by @searchrook appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
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Ever wonder why your Silicon Valley developer peers make more money than you? As Brookings analyst Jonathan Rothwell points out, it’s not because they’re more experienced than you. Rather, it’s because the technology skills they do have are “particularly valuable.”
What are these skills, you ask?
While it’s impossible to get an exact read, Leo Polovets’s analysis of AngelList data offers some strong clues as to the skills you need to build a winning startup (and a few, like PHP, that you’d do better to avoid).
The Valley’s Money Machine
Developers everywhere are a well-paid lot. As U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows, there are over 643,000 application developers in the U.S., with salaries ranging from $42,250 to $183,380, across 66 industries. Developers in the Information and Manufacturing industries carry particularly big wallets.
The closer a developer is to a coast, the better her chances of clearing $100,000, as Brookings analysis shows:
As much as developers make, generally, however, they make most—and by a considerable margin—in San Jose, Calif.
Well, there’s the obvious element of supply and demand that keeps driving developer salaries ever higher. Developers tend to get paid more in the Valley because, well, employers have little choice. (Actually, they do, as I’ve written, but too few take the choice of remote, open source-style development.)
Even so, Rothwell says that something more may be driving Silicon Valley developer wages: they tend to possess higher-value tech skills. As he writes:
For example, 8.4 percent of ads for software developers in San Jose requested Java, a widely used programming language, associated with an average salary of $98,000 across all U.S. ads mentioning both it and a salary requirement. Yet, for the United States as a whole, just 5.7 percent of software developer ads required Java. In New York City, the share was 6.7, and it was 4.7 in Louisville.
Despite having less experience than developer peers in other high-cost, competitive metropolitan areas, Silicon Valley developers make more because they know more about the tech that matters most.
So which tech is this, exactly?
What The Popular Kids Use
Using AngelList data, Leo Polovet peeks under the hood of successful startups and compares the technology they use to those of lesser startups. It’s an imperfect measure—it’s not 100% clear that the AngelList “Signal” score Polovet relies on truly measures company quality and popularity, although it seems to do so reasonably well. Still, it’s at least a running start at figuring out what successful startups—and the developers that power them—use to build their applications.
In the following charts—and apologies in advance; they’re also small and hard-to-read in the original—the different colors represent how “successful” the startups in question are, as measured by that “signal” score.
Sometimes, as in the case of programming languages, the best and worst developers use the same technology:
But sometimes there’s a clear delineation between what the most successful startups use and what the least successful companies adopt.
For programming languages, for example, Povolets notes that “[t]he likelihood that PHP is being used is strongly anti-correlated with company quality.” Similarly, “[t]he better the company, the more likely it is to be using modern and/or functional programming languages (i.e. Go, Scala, Haskell, Erlang, Clojure).”
Or take the database, storage and caching layer:
There aren’t any real surprises in terms of what the top startups use (MySQL with a big lead). But Polovet’s conclusion that “[t]he better the company, the less likely it is to build on top of Microsoft’s products (SQL Server)” might be a wake-up call to Microsoft developers. So might his suggestion that company quality strongly correlates with iOS development and that “[t]he better the company, the more likely it is to use IaaS (e.g. AWS) instead of PaaS.”
Strong developers, in other words, seem to want to have more direct control over the technologies they use, rather than offloading the heavy lifting to a platform.
Growing Out Of Neverland?
While Povolets’ data suggests across the board that “The better the company, the less likely it is to build on top of Microsoft’s products,” it’s clearly not a good reflection of which technologies are currently most important to big companies. Microsoft remains the top “mega-vendor” with CIOs and looks unlikely to lose that place anytime soon.
But the data does help to remind us why Silicon Valley’s software developers get paid so much: they know the best new technology, which technology may well turn out to be the fuddy-duddy technology of the future. (Java, for example, remains highly relevant today, but used to be the language of upstarts.)
Is it enough to know these hot technologies? Probably not. If you’re living in Des Moines, Iowa, you’re probably not going to get a Silicon Valley salary no matter how much Haskell you know.
Then again, you won’t have to deal with traffic along Highway 101, either, so consider yourself even.
Lead image by Cory Doctorow
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Existing laws are supposed to prevent motorists from using smartphone apps while driving. But they aren’t working. The number of drivers injured or killed by distraction continues to rise.
I don’t harbor hope that automakers—notoriously bad at digital driver interfaces—will find the best solution. The way forward is more likely to come from a small startup, perhaps a company like Navdy. The San Francisco company is attempting to solve the distracted-driver epidemic by moving car data and mobile functions away from clunky dashboards and tiny phone screens—and onto simple interfaces that magically float six feet in front of the driver’s eyes.
Navdy’s one-two tech punch is straightforward: It combines a heads-up display with gesture recognition in an attempt to minimize distracting demands on a driver’s attention, whether taking in new information or giving commands.
Everything you might need to know—from vehicle speed and turn-by-turn directions, to incoming text messages or the name of the tune bumping on the radio—is displayed directly over the road. Every means for controlling the apps—wave your hand to the left to accept a call, or to the right to reject it—is supposed to work like Leap Motion, without diverting your gaze.
No More Touchscreens, Knobs and Buttons
Navdy today launched the pre-order campaign for its aftermarket product. The company is offering a price of $299—a 40 percent discount from its expected retail price of $499. The first shipments are expected in early 2015.
Last week, Doug Simpson, Navdy’s chief executive and co-founder, gave me a demo of the product on a spin around the Berkeley hills.
Simpson previously ran a research and manufacturing division for Hewlett-Packard and later created Digiblast, a portable multimedia device for kids. Karl Guttag, his co-founder and chief technology officer, has more than three decades of experience in integrated circuit architecture related to graphics and image processors. Highway1—a San Francisco-based hardware incubator sponsored by PCH, a major manufacturing company—helped bring the product to life.
“The idea grew out of my own frustration of using a phone in the car and fumbling around with a touchscreen, and having one too many almost-accidents,” said Simpson.
“The issue with touchscreens, knobs and buttons, wherever they are, is they force you to look down,” he continued. “Whenever your eyes are off the road, you are three times more likely to have an accident.”
Still More Idea Than Reality
Here’s a promotional Navdy video that gives you a sense of how the company expects the gizmo to work:
In reality, however, Navdy remains very much a work in progress. The prototype that I saw, mounted on the dashboard of a rented Toyota Corolla, lacked much of the polish—and many of the features—shown in the video. “This is not the final product, but most of the hardware development is done,” Simpson acknowledged. “We’re in final testing now.”
The flat device is about the size of a salad plate with a two-by-five-inch see-through flip-up screen. When the car idled, the bright image temporary vibrated until we got going. It was powered by a portable battery pack instead of connecting to the car’s diagnostic port as planned.
Most important, it lacked the gesture recognition and ability to react to spoken commands—features that are central to Navdy’s strategy.
Yet it was clear from Simpson’s immediate and thoughtful responses to my questions that Navdy has specific plans to address the technical challenges. “We think we’ll be first to market with the combination of the two technologies, which complete the eyes-on-the-road experience,” Simpson told me.
All About the Optics
Simpson said the tricky optics were custom designed. “We have an extremely bright projector. It’s 40 times brighter than your iPhone,” he said. Indeed, on the sunny day of the demo, the image was clear and focused as it pulled turn directions from Google Maps on a paired iPhone.
Simpson talked about high-gain screens, and different types of light being alternately reflected, distributed, dispersed, magnified or rejected.
Projecting on the device’s small glass screen is cheaper and easier than using the windshield itself, which would require special optics sandwiched into the glass. Also, those expensive windshields come in a variety of different curvatures.
To reduce the cost of heads-up displays, major automakers, such as Mini and Mazda, are also opting for the same type of “combiner” heads-up display—a small transparent screen on the dash—like what Navdy is using. IHS, an automotive market research firm, forecasts that by 2020, combiner displays will account for 60 percent of head-up displays sold worldwide.
For its gesture recognition functions, which will use an infrared camera aimed at the driver, Navdy partnered with a major company in the image processing space. (Simpson declined to give the name of the firm.) “We looked at what technology we could integrate versus what we could build ourselves, and how to blend it together into a magical experience,” he said.
One of the challenges is how close drivers are situated to the device—requiring a fish-eye lens to allow sufficient range of view to read the driver’s gestures. Car interior lighting conditions can also be challenging.
The interface is key. On top of the data coming from the phone—including apps like Google Maps and Spotify—Navdy uses the dongle attached to the diagnostic port under the steering column to gain access to a wide range of car data, including vehicle speed, miles-to-empty and tire pressure.
In that sense, Navdy is something like a hardware-software platform upon which apps—or entire heads-up designs—could be built. The company has future plans to open up its system to third-party developers.
During the demo, this text message popped up with the name and photo of the sender: “See you very soon.” It looked like a demo, rather than a real message. Simpson said that the default text-message setting is to read text messages while the car is moving, but display them when the car is stationary. Emails are out of bounds.
The company built Navdy on Android, although it can pair with either Android or iPhone devices. The system can work with any car. The biggest vehicle compatibility challenge is mounting the device on all the various sizes and shapes of steering wheel humps.
Getting From Here to There
Currently, the closest drivers can get to glanceable (and minimally distracting) phone functions is to install a dashboard mount for a cell phone. Amazon lists a few of them less than $10. That’s 50 times cheaper than the $500 device from Navdy—although of course the experience of looking at a fixed small display is dramatically different from one that’s projecting data right in the driver’s field of vision.
Who knows how quickly Navdy will move from the rough prototype I saw to a finished and affordable product that offers all the promised gesture recognition, voice, and deep integration with car and phone data. Even if it’s still a ways off, it’s still a fascinating glance at where in-car informatics may be headed.
I fully anticipate that within a few years—whether we are driving or the car is driving itself—we will no longer need to look down at a phone, or for that matter, a set of dashboard controls. Everything will be projected or embedded in the windshield, and hopefully, distributed over a wide area of view. “We are working on a scenario where we will use the whole windshield,” said Simpson. “That’s the vision.”
Images courtesy of Navdy
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British hacker Gary McKinnon launches SEO startup
In a bid to market his talents, Glasgow-born McKinnon has set up a consultancy business, dubbed Small SEO, that pledges to manipulate certain aspects of company websites so that they appear higher in search engine results – a process known as search …
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New App-Based Search Engine Startup Relcy Tries to Reset SEO
Search Engine Watch
And with thatwill come the need for new research, new SEO point of views, and new best practices. Depending on how much content continues to be available on the web vs. native apps, we could see a virtual reset of SEO, where all the old ranking signals …
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The idea behind Relcy is to index and rank the content stored within apps on your phone, giving you the ability to search content across all your apps, which the major search engines, like Google, can’t access. What could it mean for SEO?
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Bravo, Banana Republic! We hail your valiant effort to inject some fashion sense into Silicon Valley. And purely from a fashion perspective, your new collection The Startup Guy is pretty on point; the clothes are unquestionably nice.
But we have to talk. It’s kind of tone deaf to try to “disrupt” Silicon Valley fashion without first understanding the culture and style that already permeates techland. Free startup-branded t-shirts, messenger bags, and hoodies are more on par for the real-life “startup guy.”
There’s also your approach to diversity in tech. With two white guys and one Asian male as models, The Startup Guy collection helps perpetuate the notion that there aren’t any women or many minorities beyond Asians in startups. (Neither is true.)
Still, I respect your desire to up SV’s male fashion game.
I scrolled through The Startup Guy collection on my daily ride into the city, and took a moment to close my eyes and imagine what a Caltrain car full of Banana Republic startup guys would look like. In my mind, there were jeans rolled up to the ankles, chunky wool sweaters, and all the loafers filling the seats. It felt a little “finance fratty,” if you get my meaning.
The fact is, people don’t look like this in Silicon Valley. I opened my eyes back into the real world, and it was peppered with backpacks, plaid shirts, and scooters. Your man-purses, salmon shorts, and earth tones would be more at home on a yacht off the Hamptons than they would be on Muni. The straight-out-of-university style rules in San Francisco startup land, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
But the biggest problem here might just be the simple idea that you went and named this collection The Startup Guy. That pretty much guarantees that no actual person from a startup will forgo all self-awareness and buy these clothes.
Images courtesy of Banana Republic, illustration by Nigel Sussman and Madeleine Weiss
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Paso Robles Daily News
Startup SEO: How to Get the Ball Rolling on a Limited Budget
SEO companies from every corner of the world constantly contact new startups, promising the same outcome: top rankings in the search results. There will be large experienced digital agencies that will quote large five-figure monthly retainers and there …
Has (not provided) become a major barrier to effective SEO?
Tim Levy Talks About SEO and Metadata on Popular Radio Shows
The Digital Investment; Are We Getting Our Priorities Right?
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Worldwide IT spending is expected to increase this year, but it’s nothing compared to how much money will flow into Big Data. And for employees at those companies, more money is certainly a good thing.
As a new IDC report reveals, spending in the Big Data market will reach $32.4 billion by 2017, or nearly six times the growth rate of the overall IT market.
With billions at stake, much of that money is flowing into Big Data startups, including $900 million to Cloudera just this week. Flush with cash, these startups are hiring like crazy. The perks are good, but they’re not much different from what companies in other hot areas offer, according to Dice.com:
What these Big Data startups offer instead is the chance to completely change the future of how organizations operate. Sounds appetizing, right? But before you submit your résumé, consider what it’s like to work at the 10 most heavily-funded Big Data startups, according to the people that work there. Their views come via the employee reviews on Glassdoor. (Full disclosure: I work at MongoDB, but I included them on the list based on the objective criterion of how much funding these companies have received.)
Here are the top 10 Big Data companies, ranked by employee satisfaction:
DataStax is one of the leaders in the emerging database market and the company behind Cassandra, a so-called NoSQL database that was originally developed at Facebook. It’s gets both dings and praise for its “demanding work environment,” though some complain that the company’s distributed employee base means “you have to make an effort to get to know your co-workers.” Given that being “remote is the norm,” you’ll take comfort in knowing that the company includes “the smartest and best group of engineers you will ever work with.”
MongoDB offers a document-oriented “NoSQL” database. Mind you, I am an employee of MongoDB, but others have described the workplace as one filled with “generous, good people that work hard, expect much but are also kind,” as well as “passionate, curious, and very smart” people who go above and beyond their call of duty to help you. MongoDB gets high marks for being a “leader in a market that is transforming how data is managed.” However, one engineer notes that “All senior leadership positions are filled with outsiders.” This may be getting better as another reviewer indicates that there is more “hiring from within.”
Domo sells a business intelligence platform that incorporates data feeds from throughout an organization and makes them easily consumable in one place. The company, founded by Omniture founder Josh James, perhaps not surprisingly involves “lots of hero worship,” given James’ outsized personality, and also gets dinged for having a sales-driven culture. Others disagree with these sentiments, declaring Domo to employ the “best talent [they've] ever worked with” and an “awesome culture.”
Cloudera offers a Hadoop-based Big Data platform. Employees love the “incredible culture” working alongside the “smartest people in the industry” on a “product that’s changing the world” in a company that maintains “a strong emphasis on remaining an independent company.” Still, some complain about Cloudera, saying it has a “cowboy” culture that forces you to “view co-workers as competition rather than teammates.” But most say the high growth and the problems it engenders are consistent with companies undergoing similar growing pains.
Talend sells open-source data integration software. The company’s management is lauded for its “open door policy,” which means employees are “able to converse with C-levels and VP’s without intimidation.” Several reviewers cite the company’s focus on growing employees professionally, but the company, which has a significant presence in France, is broadly distributed, causing some reviewers to laud the cultural diversity while others to complain that the “geographical and cultural diversity … can make collaboration and communication a slight challenge sometimes.”
Palantir, for the sake of developing analytics applications, puts employees into small teams so people can have “high individual impact” and work on “big, important problems” together. Still, this “smug ‘Our impact on the world is all that matters’ mentality” gets derided for contributing to a “cult-like culture” and leads to the company paying “below-market compensation.”
Hortonworks, like Cloudera, is building a Big Data platform around Hadoop. Reviewers credit the company’s winning strategy around its open-source development and partnerships, though some suggest “the pace and the personal sacrifice required to be successful in an early stage company [including Hortonworks] is not for everybody.” Still, with “great access to senior leadership,” the “internal politics” that several reviewers criticized are manageable.
Gauvus builds a Big Data analytics platform. People say the company has the “best idea in terms of big data analytics,” and others gush about the “exciting technology,” but “execution is another thing.” On the execution front, reviewers complain about “fragmented communication” and “rapidly changing priorities.”
Mu Sigma provides a Data-Science-as-a-Service (DSaaS?) product. While the company is one of the lowest-ranked Big Data vendors on the list, some reviewers proclaim it a good place for data geeks, with “opportunity to learn a lot and work on different statistical tools like SAS, R [and] SQL.” However, as far as work-life balance goes, some noted a “lack of diversity” and that “even earned time taken off is sometimes frowned upon and it is really hard to plan personal time.” Furthermore, Mu Sigma was consistently dinged by reviewers for its “low pay.”
Opera Solutions, another Data-Science-as-a-Service (DSaaS) company, ranks lowest among the other Big Data companies on this list. While employees love “the variety and level of clients [Opera Solutions] work with” and a “laid back” management team that’s “not afraid to be experimental,” many others argue that same laid-back management should “resign” because of “policies [that] change all the time” and an inability to “get past fancy marketing and smoke/mirror tactics and simply explain the real value that [the company] provide[s].”
No Bad Choices
While each company has its warts, there are good reasons to want to join any of these companies. Compared to established incumbents, virtually all of these startups rank much higher than their legacy counterparts. Given that pay seems to be good across the spectrum, finding the right company for you may be a matter of finding the right cultural fit.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
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