Monthly Archives: March 2006

Get Small Fast

I always appreciated Brian’s ‘Get Small Fast‘ meme and after meeting with Josh Williams and John Critz of Blinksale (firewheel & iconbuffet) I am still a believer. Josh and John have built a great application and are at the start of something big (while staying small). Check out their blog and if you run a small business I recommend considering their invoicing product.

Jobs on getting Fired

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
Steve Jobs Stanford University commencement address, June 12, 2005 [via]

Putting Dallas on the Map(able)

CKS got the jump on me and blogged about a new Dallas-based startup called Mapable.  Mark Piller and a secretive fellow known only as Slava started this two person business.  Check out their blog.  I have not had a chance to meet Mark, but until I do all I can tell you about Mapable is:

Mapable is the place where you can find common online social activities placed on a map. Our first initiative is ‘Mapable Chat’. Many more cool map-based services are set to arrive here soon.

The site looks great.  It is exciting to see more ‘mashup’ style businesses starting in Texas – especially here in Dallas.

Wiki Startup Raises $4MM Series A

The usual suspects in the Web 2.0 space, Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network, Marc Andreessen, Dan Gillmor, Reid Hoffman, Joici Ito and Mitch Kapor funded Wikia, Inc. (previously known as Wikicities).

Wikia uses an ad supported Freemium business model.  Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley started the company in 2004 to provide community-based wikis inspired by Wikipedia (also founded by Jimmy Wales).  Here is a blurb from the press release:

Wikia supports the development of the open source software that runs both Wikipedia and Wikia, as well as thousands of other wiki sites. Among other contributions, Wikia plans to enhance the software with usability features, spam prevention, and vandalism control. All of Wikia’s development work will, of course, be fed back into the open source code.  Wikia already hosts some of the world’s largest wikis outside of the Wikimedia Foundation, including:, a parody of Wikipedia;, a Star Trek encyclopedia;, a community devoted to Star Wars, and hundreds more including topics ranging from politics to pets. Since the site’s launch in November 2004, over 1000 Wikia have been created and edited by over 20,000 registered users. Wikia are available in over 35 languages. A list of Wikia can be seen at

Fred Wilson’s Favorite Business Model

Our favorite VC blogger, Fred Wilson, described his favorite business model in a post back on March 23rd. Jerid Lukin, from Flatiron portfolio company Alacra, came up with the name: the Freemium Business Model.

Fred described the Freemium Business Model like this:

Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc, then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.

We are experimenting with the Freemium model with the Big in Japan toolset. Presently we are quitely releasing each tool (PodServe was first, second came elfURL, then a reskinned FrankenFeed, then InstantFeed, then QwikPing and currently in demo mode is FeedVault and soon to be released is SocialMail and MailFeed) in quite alpha/beta. Once we launch the complete set of tools we will launch our ‘pro’ or premium level paid service offering for each. The idea is to always offer a free version of each tool. Hopefully our Freemium model will work as well as other great tools like Flickr, Skype, Trillian, Newsgator,, and webroot.

How do you consume podcasts?

Do you listen to podcasts? Do you have your own podcast? If so you might be interested in some stats we have been collecting from our Big in Japan project. You may have seen RSS or XML feeds to a bloggers podcast listed in his sidebar under the RSS or XML feed for his blog. We are measuring how people are using podcasts listed in PodServe and we have found that only 1% of subscribers actually use the feed to consume the content of a podcast.

So if you have an RSS or XML feed icon on your blog pointing to your podcast feed you might reconsider how you are delivering your content. I removed my RSS feed and replaced it with the PodServe page that allows a podcast consumer to select various methods of consumption including:

  • Subscribe directly via iTunes (iTunes button)
  • Listen directly via your browser (built in flash player)
  • Subscribe directly via an RSS feed (feed icon)

We have found that 80% of our subscribers use iTunes to consume podcasts and 19% use the built in player (previously via the browser, now via the flash player). Consider linking your podcast to a page where the consumer can choose his method of consumption (or just put an iTunes subscribe button since you will please 80% of consumers). On this blog you will see my podcast link Link to Elevator Pitch just under the RSS feed icon.

Call for help to build a startup blog network!

Interested in building a network of startup blogs?  How about one for each state?  Drop me a line if you want to help – 214.550.2003.  Thanks!


Throughout high school and in college I was involved in CX debate and one of our favorite concepts was the ‘snowball effect.’ Umair had a great post this morning titled, ‘The Snowball is the New Blockbuster About a year…

The story is not social media (blogs, podcasts, wikis), it is the snowball effect they can have as a ‘self-organizing and interdependent collecectives’. He gives some great examples in his post. Umair calls it ‘cheap coodination’ and I agree that viral marketers are going to figure out how to tap into it very soon.

In college our snowballs were actually red herrings; I think they might be for real this time.

Microsoft supports microformats! an interesting move, Bill Gates indicated that microformats are a core part of Microsoft’s strategy. Marc Cantor noted that Tim O’Reilly had clued Bill in on microformats the night before the announcement in this video. I am not as concerned about the timing – just the fact that Bill is talking about them. The first time I heard Tantek speak about microformats I was excited – structured data WILL change the internet as we know it. Since then I have made sure we use them everywhere possible (specifically in the Big in Japan toolbox). I think this announcement by Bill Gates will only hasten the adoption of microformats.

Goodbye and Hello!

It is with sadness that we say goodbye to the classic PHP version of elfURL. I came up with the URL shortener while sitting at SuperNova last year. From idea to launch it took four days. Read about it here. Here is the old skin:

Now meet the new Big in Japan version of elfURL. Completely rewritten using Ruby on Rails we kept the previous features and added optional password protection for the stats. Rodrigo has a few more ideas including integration with the Tagyu API, but that is fairly low on our list. The new logo and css are by Dan Cederholm. Can you believe we have served up elfURL for more than 4,000,000 unique people? Woot! Here is the new skin: