Monthly Archives: October 2006

Engage Technology Focus Group

The meeting with Engage ThoughtWare was extremely enlightening. The theory behind the technology is rather simple: Politics, Personality and Corporate Culture are some significant inhibitors to corporate success. By developing a system that eliminates as many of these as possible, productivity increases, profit increases, thus boss and employee are happier.

The technology has powerful organizational systems that could potentiall offer normal blog sites to reach unprecedented organization and follow-thr0ugh on their ideas.

The technology also offers a gated community wherein the development and sharing of ideas could only be accessed by those who are invited into the discussion. This way important conversations wouldn’t be crashed by unwelcome visitors and sensitive information could be identified and developed freely.

I would very much enjoy having this technology for Paul Allen’s page or Mark Cuban. I believe if the UI were made simple enough, it could have a very fast adoption rate and possibly spark an entire paradigm shift in the means of blogging and page organization.

We’ll see.

By the way, in my first day I got nearly a hundred views my first Youtube posting… About 1/100th of where I want to be someday… But really fun anywho…

Can You Build Land?

When I was in 4th grade, I remember learning about the problem of landfill waste and drawing up what I felt was a grand concept to compost waste and create land in floating barges in the ocean. I drew up plans with areation modules, anchoring systems, etc. When I learned that the Japanese had already developed land generation, my 11 year old heart was broken. I couldn’t believe it! But I moved on.

I had almost completely forgotten about this, until last week when I watched Superman Returns with my wife. When Lex Luther talks about how much money he would make by creating land… One of the only truly fixed resources–it got me thinking. I thought about my 4th grade idea, and then a few of the things I’ve learned since then.

Somebody asked me the other day what I would do if I already had hundreds of millions of dollars… I gave the question serious consideration and then responded that of course I would relax some, establish a helpful and strategic foundation or non-profit and then, I would like to make land :)

I know it sounds like a larger than life idea. But I can absolutely see a market for floating land creation. There are a number of available technologies that can meet the needs for cost-efficiency, independent energy and water. Moreover, in today’s environment of systems theory and networking, a network of floating real estate becomes even more valuable and useful.

I’ve seen whole floating colonies of fishermen and impoverished vietnamese. I’ve walked the piers of houseboats and cruiseliners… People are doing it already. It just needs the right team, the right funding and the right timing before we see an impressive reality of new land.

I Tube… You Tube… We all Tube

I’ve been reading so much about the Goo-Tube craze and direction of video advertising that I thought I would try my hand at a little piece. I think what turned the tipping point was Paul Allen’s online video marketing blog. I went to You Tube and thought of a little piece… I tried to develop it along the lines of the other pieces I saw that had the most views… (Certainly not the highest rating).

I’m a long ways from my own internet news beat… but it was a fun little exercise. It will be interesting to try a series of little videos and learn more about how to successfully use them for exposure and conversion.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcaniconiosis is a disease one gets from inhaling microscopic pieces of silicate or quartz… Pretty interesting ‘eh?

Don’t ask me where I got the actor… Not bad for his first try though :)

Any ideas would be welcome.

Makin’ it happen…

So we thought about it today and we decided we would follow Seth Godin’s advice and Make it happen!

It was a pretty simple idea. Will Donate for Clicks–We identified a non-profit partner we’ve been working with and pledged $.10 for unique click on a simple landing page. Here’s the copy:

This just takes a few seconds!

Just click the link below to get to the donate button. Tell your friends and family and this can add up fast into valuable funds.

Pass this along to any of your friends, families or associates and this is an easy way to raise money for Peru!


Thank you and Happy Clicking

The idea was simple. Our partners have mailing lists and regular readers. Those readers each have family and friends who want to help the organization. Our company is complimentary to their industry, so let’s work together to help our partners and get a little exposure for ourselves.

Maybe we should have thought about it a little longer. Maybe we should developed more guidelines and padding. But maybe was just too long for a company as at the tipping point as Worldwide Book Drive. We had to act. We did an initial assessment. We made it happen.

We’ll keep you posted on the benefit…

Keys to Good Signs and Sales

We finished off the first full month of the Worldwidestores, and we were glad to notice a significant trend in sales. Of course this is only a month of data, which in retail is only 1/12 of a really useful picture, but it has been good to see a positive regression line. Believe it or not, so far the most influential factor in sales has been… signs. When we have good signs in good places… sales are good–generally speaking of course.

A sign serves a lot of functions for new and existing companies alike:

  • Make people aware of the existence of your store.
  • Educate people about your store and product.
  • Qualify the customer before hand.
  • Begin building brand equity.

5 Keys to remember when making a sign for a start up company:

  • Make it so people people know what product you are selling.
  • Emphasize the name before the logo–you can do branding emphasis after you make some good initial capital
  • Make it colorful! White just fades into the background.
  • make it clear and legible! Don’t worry about cool logos… just make it unmistakable
  • Make plenty of them and do what it takes to place them in high traffic areas-busy roads, intersections etc.

I know they sound simple, but they are easily transgressed. Just stick to ‘em and you’ll find a faster and more abundant success with your brick and mortar venture.

This is my experience, but I would love to hear more. I couldn’t find any good articles online about the keys to good signage, but I would love to see any resources people might have. Please let me know. -John

Are You Engage(d)?

We’ve all been to blog sites, forums or other community sites. More often than not, we havet to fish though mountains of unrelated issues to find what we’re really looking for.

Of course of lot large businesses have seen the benefit that could come from having a forum that actually helped to nuture the thought process to identitify and solve real queries.

I was introduced to Engage Thoughtware(tm) by Dan Mabey, Former Director Of International Economic Development for the State of Utah. This powerful business communication tool.

After a review of their patented program I’m extremely impressed by the benefits they offer. As best summarized by their own site, the benefits are as follows:

* Less costly than face-to-face meetings
* More secure than Blogs
* Produces better results than e-mail.

On another level, Engage:

* Drives the innovation/implementation cycle
* Removes political and geographical barriers
* Aligns team level efforts with the organization
* Reduces costs and streamlines processes
* Recognizes and provides for the reward of actual contributors.

Engage is already pretty well developed for corporate licensing. I believe the benefits and opportunities this technology would have in the free market would encourage incredible innovation and idea development. I also see huge economic benefit from IP development and advertising revenues. Kind of like the MySpace of organized and real information. :)

A focus group will be held in about a week to further explore its free market capabilities. I’m excited to see the development of this product.

Worldwide Elevator Pitch

Worldwide Book Drive, (WBD) has the infrastructure and model to support the largest database and resource of free books—in the world.


WBD has developed a solicitation system to access the billions of dollars of new and used books before they are wasted in landfills or reach the open market. WBD efficiently resells, recycles, or redistributes the books for optimal economic and social benefit.


Unused books destroy the environment and are a failed opportunity to promote literacy. In addition, the used book industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone. Domestic and global literacy programs provide hundreds of millions of dollars of tax benefits and subsidies for the purchase and distribution of new and used books annually. Every year, expensive costs of processing and distribution drives millions of pounds of used books to landfills, or corrosive storage units, where they are a detriment to the environment and moreover, do not help promote literacy.

There are billions of dollars of eligible books for resell and redistribution, which remain currently inaccessible or untapped in the homes and buildings of private citizens and organizations. The potential values of these books would be realized through online sales, store sales and social-donations. By efficiently streamlining the process of collection, sorting, storing and distribution of these books, WBD has developed a sustainable and profitable system for acquisition, reselling and donation of needed books to qualified organizations. WBD has the infrastructure and model to support the largest database and resource of free books—in the world.

Our market efficiencies are made possible through the Worldwide Book Drive Pod™ model. Each Pod includes a direct soliciting program, a brick and mortar store front and sales and donation internet venue. Each Pod location is networked through a single database system.

After the model is proven, initial research indicates the US market will be able to sustain the penetration of 500 – 600 Pod locations. These pods are projected to recycle approximately 100 million pounds of books annually. 15-20 million books will be made available for donation to qualified entities for potential tax benefits of $9 – 10 million dollars. Projected sales of 10-12 million books are expected to generate a gross income of $90 – 110 million/yr, with a pre-tax margin of 25%. Additional social, political and promotional benefits are promising but unquantifiable.

Worldwide Book Drive is looking for $150k dollars of additional funding to prove the model’s scalability and further develop the web and database systems.

Start-Ups Credit Dream

Taking a credit card for a brick and mortar shop can be expensive. It requires that you set up a merchant account, get the hardware and usually you have to pay for an extra line.

Working with service brokers can add up over time and adds an additional step. Early cancellation is a killer and usually has a minimum of a $500 dollar cancellation fee.

My research and experience at our little company showed there were pretty good ways to go for a small business that needs to take credit cards fast:

PayPal: is by far the fastest and least overhead of any credit card account. Unfortunately it is relatively expensive per transaction and requires that your customers have PayPal to get confirmation or refunds etc… Not quite what we wanted. It’s obviously more complicated than this depending on the card and transaction type, but here’s a general idea–

  • .30 per transaction
  • 2.5% fee

ModPay: A start-up company, (referred to us by a customer actually) recently bought out by Zion’s bank. It offers a handy little internet credit-card gateway. They are super understaffed and primarily meant for reoccuring accounts, but they are by far the cheapest per transaction and card swipe is a lot cheaper than your run of the mill credit card machine… Again, it’s obviously more complicated than this depending on the card and transaction type, but here’s a general idea–

  • .25 per transaction
  • 2.2% fee

So far our experience at Worldwide Bookstores has been favorable, and we’re looking forward to more satisfied citizens who can buy books with visa or mastercard…

Webdevelopment Outsourcing

In my opinion, development costs are some of the scariest expenses of a business that integrates the web. Generally speaking, front end isn’t too bad, but a back-end that allows dyanmic interface and webmastery, not to mention shoppingcart and customer accounts can add up fast…

I was first introduced to offshore outsourcing by John Jonas, who was researching its possibilities in his various ventures. I was really impressed with Danny Sullivan and the model he had developed for web outsourcing in the Philippines. The prices seemed reasonable enough but I was concerned about reliability and consistency and language barriers etc.

At first it was a little frustrating… We hired on a trainee. A great price, but really not quite as fast as we were hoping or expecting. We stuck with it, and after a while our trainee began to deliver much more on our requests. Better yet, he even began suggesting some of his own ideas and accomplishable creativity.

It is absolutely different than working with qualified american programmers. The pros and cons really depend on where your company is its development.

I would highly recommend it for any company that has more work to do than it can handle alone. In fact I have often thought that like re-selling webhosting, there might be some money in reselling webdevelopers :) Really.

I also think it would be relatively easy to start a development company and pick up work from anywhere in the world. It would be a simple model, with a fixed overhead of labor and enough qualified programmers to grow as fast or as slow as you would want.

I will not at all be surprised if this model begins to be replicated and re-sold, a lot like webhosting… We’ll see :)