Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This Week's Meanderings -- So Far

I was at Web Innovator's Group last night .... big crowd, as usual ... really surprising how many of the folks who get up to explain their companies can't do it in a way that is either:

    A) comprehensible, or

    B) enthusiastic

(That applies mostly to the "Side Dish" ancillary presenters, not the "Main Dish" demo-ers.)

My favorite concept of the evening was, a site that makes it easy for anyone to create an online store containing an inventory of items they like. It looks like it's much easier to build a "Lemonade stand" than it is to set up an account with's affiliate program, which allows you to sell Amazon products. And many retailers still aren't hip to the idea of affiliates, so there's big potential for Lemonade to develop a big base of affiliates, and bring new retailers on board. Affiliates get paid a commission on any sales they generate, and can also earn bigger "bounties," for instance when they deliver a new customer to a company like AT&T. (The whole concept harkens back a bit to BeFree, one of the Web's first third-party operators of affiliate programs. But that was Web 1.0.)

The favorite entrepreneur of the night was Steven Bao. Bao is a sophomore at Wellesley High School who has created Student Concourse, a site that helps students manage all the school assignments they're working on, and collaborate with their classmates. He got a warm round of applause when he got up to explain what he's doing, and afterward, at his demo table, he was fielding questions like a pro. (Carolyn Johnson included Bao in this Globe story about young entrepreneurs.)

This morning, the Globe held one of its occasional small business breakfasts. We heard some great war stories from Rich Doyle, co-founder of Harpoon Brewery (in their early days, they decided to self-distribute, since no distributor wanted to carry their product) and Ian Lane Davis, founder of Mad Doc Software. Ian is the sole owner of the company ... which never took venture capital funding ... and today has 100 employees. He mentioned that they're now working on a version of "Bully" for the Xbox 360, a game originally developed by Rockstar Games, and several other projects he couldn't talk about.

Tomorrow is Future Forward in Weston. I'm told it's sold-out this year, and that there's a pretty substantial waiting list, so it should be a fun day...

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Blogger Breck said...

Thought you did a great job moderating the discussion. I looked around at the end to introduce myself but you must have snuck off to write this post. I learned a lot today from Rich, Joe and Ian. And it was fun to hear about the early days of!

I also agree with your take on some of the WebInno presenters. The pitch that impressed me most was iiProperty(although I hate the name). I thought they clearly identified the market, the problem, their solution, and seemed excited about their business. I don't know anything about their market, so it might not work, but of all the presentations that was the one I would want to learn more about. Lemonade I liked, but from my experience in affiliate marketing, not sure if you need a whole company to do what they're doing. Bao's 20 second pitch stole the show!

November 7, 2007 11:32 AM  
Blogger Gung said...

Hi Scott,

I concur with your thought since it happened my favorite concept and entrepreneur of the night were Lemonade and Bao too.

Lemondae's concept is not new per se (like Commission Junction) but extends affiliate marketing, a proven model, to the long tail of individuals.

Bao, a 15-yr old smart kid from Wellesley, has already written multiple internet apps. The concept of Student Concourse is not new either (like Blackboard) but could be much better, faster and cheaper! His other work may be more interesting but he didn't show. [When talking to him, it turned out Bao and I came from the same place in China - what was I doing when I was 15??? Time flies. :-)]

Well, a nice read, as always.


Gung Ho
-- - Local Service Recommendations. Your Choice! :-)

November 7, 2007 5:32 PM  

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