The magazine is written in English and addresses the business needs of the global English-speaking business community. It will contain articles relating to small business financing, entrepreneurship, the mechanics of running a business, dynamics of business start-ups, how to raise money from venture capitalists, as well as other topics of importance to global business start-ups.
TaxiPal: A taxi booking app from Estonia MIEMAGAZINE Issue 01 | June 2012 celebrating entrepreneurship worldwide Startup Entrepreneurship Ten common mistakes How to build process for a startup Be prepared European startup competitions you should apply to Microsoftâ€™s Azure for Cloud services BabelVerse: Brand Embassy Spotting dissatisfied customers across the social web 10 ways to fund your startup Tips on how your business can benefit from social media marketing Real-time elimination of language barrier Magazine Section 6 Editor’s Note Issue 01 - June 2012 Publisher John Doe Editor in Chief Aniekan Okono Welcome a new magazine Editorial E Anja Zinchenko , Benedicta Ideho Proofing Anja Zinchenko 10 03 Editor’s Note by Aniekan Okono Welcome to a new magazine Let’s get started towards a new experience 04 First Steps by Matti Kivimaa Ten ways to fund your startup Sources of funding which should be known by all entrepreneurs. 08 Competitional News by Martha Bernt veryone involved in the startup ecosystem loves to stay updated on news about acquisitions, buyouts, funding, upcoming events, new products, business development tips or even rants by angry people who are bent on proving a point or just taking it out after a failed meeting. Art Director Catalin Ciolca Senior Designer Corina Imbarus Contributors Vili Urillainen We are used to get these kinds of news from various sources but in Miemagazine we feel that we can have a unique and different approach comparing to other magazine publications on the same topics or the ecosystem in general. 22 European startup competitions What we want to achieve is relevance with respect to geography and quality of contents in our publications. Also, as a startup ourselves, we expect to get feedback and support from you in order to provide an experience, a great one we hope. Find some of the different startup competitions in Europe which you absolutely have to attend 14 20 12 Reviews by Mark Thompson Windows Azure Microsoft’s Service Provider for Cloud Services 16 Tutorial In this issue we will bring in information on startup events in Europe which you should consider if they are relevant for you and your company; we will also look into a VC’s by Villi Urpilainen How to build a process Importance of a process for a startup 18 Startup perspective on funding companies: what they fund and why they fund. We have taken a brief dive into startups like Taxipal and Brand Embassy. A lot can be accomplished by discovering the right process, whether it is hiring employees, writing press releases or making codes. A significance of a repeatable process has been considered in a simplified tone. We are also open for columnists and guest writers and, of course, offer advertisement opportunities as these are all different ways to promote your product, company or personal brand. Just hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin. Let’s get started towards a new experience. Best Regards, Aniekan Okono firstname.lastname@example.org by Johanna Berg Startup Entrepreneurship Ten Commnon Mistakes 24 Tips & Tricks by Benedicta Ideho Entrepreneurship fundamentals The following tips should help you reflect on your entrepreneurship skills. 2 MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 www.miemagazine.com 3 First Steps As the IT industry is soaring to new and unknown heights (with Cloud Computing at present), more and more innovative ideas are being developed and successfully realized in Europe. The general rule of thumb is that if a startup exists in the industry for two years, then the chances of the business succeeding are high. However, the development rate of the original idea depends upon the founders and their strategic skills. 5 6 BUSINESS LOAN FROM A BANK VENTURE CAPITALISTS (VC) It depends upon your good credit record of yours and the bank being convinced that your idea is profitable. Like in the previous option, collateral security is required and the rates of interest are high. This funding platform is share based. VC’s are more prone to finance ventures that are ready to move to the next level rather than startups. They always want share control over the company. your to fund startup All startup entrepreneurs should know about the following sources of funding: Ten ways of by Matti Kivimaa 1 BOOTSTRAPING It implies funding your startup with your own resources and those of your friends and relatives. In case of acquiring funds from family members, only those will invest who believe in your idea. Make it clear to everyone what they are investing in. Expect investments to be small. 4 2 3 4 7 8 9 10 PRIVATE INVESTORS CROWD FUNDING GRANT SEED FUNDING ANGEL FUNDING SWEAT EQUITY CAPITAL MARKET FUNDING Private investors may allow you to raise capital quicker. However, unless you have a sure shot proposal, private investors will loan you funds on high interest and collateral security. You ask for microinvestments through internet sites like crowd funding.org.uk or rockethub.com. There, interested people invest in micro-units within a fixed period of time. If within that time the full amount is collected, you can use it for your startup. Contributors get project-related products such as T-shirts, stickers and even equity in microunits. Grants are financial aid from the government and other autonomous third parties. They are meant for research and academic work mostly, but in some cases you can also get a grant for a startup business. Getting a grant is a long process and success or failure cannot be predicted. Grants are usually small amounts of money but there is no obligation for you to return it back. It differs from angel and VC funding in a way that the investment starts from the earliest stage of idea development. It gives proportioned funds according to business plan, often when the company is still just an idea. A seed funding is something like getting a co-founder to your idea. Angels are a small group of wealthy people or community that also requires shares. They are more considerate then VC in the sense that they do not discriminate startup growth levels. Angel investing is more like a gamble for the investor than a way of subsidy. This kind of investment does not come in the form of cash but in the form of effort. For instance, employees work for low salaries or “zero salaries” in return acquiring a share of the company. If you already have a well-entrenched company, you can sell shares to raise funds for a startup of a new company. You issue an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and investors purchase shares of your company. MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 www.miemagazine.com 5 Business Language Business Language Babelverse: BABELVERSE Location Real-time elimination Babelverse is available for testing its beta version at babelverse.com. of language barriers by Anja Zinchenko Our life was eased with the emergence of online language translation services that can translate a text or a web-page for us. But what about the situations when there is no written text and “on-the-spot” interpretation is needed? O nce British Josef Dunne and French Mayel de Borniol set their aim at “doing to language barriers what the aeroplane did to geographical barriers”, they have launched public beta of Babelverse platform in the end of April 2012. So what exactly is this service all about? Babelverse is a cloud service where you can request a synchronized and consecutive interpretation in any language from interpreters with different level of knowledge and skills. So far, it is available only via the Internet but soon Babelverse founders plan to make it possible to have real-time interpretation of any 6 situation at any moment over the mobile phone for the price of the phone call. As of today the service was tested at events and conferences providing the interpretation for those who attended the event as well as for those who watched it remotely. Users can already order an interpretation of existing content like videos from YouTube or synchronized interpretation of events streamed live. All you have to do is to request interpretation over any device to be connected to the available interpreter. All the interpreters are divided according to the level of their skills: trainees, MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 experienced and professionals. Trainees offer their services at no cost first and have to prove their skills by interpreting casual situations. Consequently, they have a chance to transfer into the group of experienced interpreters and start to earn income. So, if you speak more than just your native language you can freely join the service and interpret at time convenient for you. A special group of professional interpreters whose service is paid according to a higher rate is for those who need the firstclass interpretation. Interpreters receive 70% from the rate set by Babelverse based www.miemagazine.com on several parameters. As for the startup growth, the cofounders spent 8 months in Latin America taking part in Start-Up Chile programme and have already taken the 3rd place in LeWeb’s startup competition and the 2nd place in PulsoStartup10 in Latin America. Moreover, Babelverse is the winner of the B2B and Public Choice Award TNW 2012. 7 Competitional Magazine Section News Competitional Magazine Section News Be prepared European startup COMPETITIONS you should apply to Betapitch Berlin & Cologne Betapitch is organized by Betahaus annually. It’s a co-working space provider and it hosts organizations which are well established and have the need to work with their vendors and programmers. Startup founders from all over the world apply. For those who make it Betahaus provides accommodation and co-working space for 5-6 months. The betapitch jury then separate out the best teams from the pitches, demonstrations etc. to arrive at a figure of 10 teams which are selected for the final presentations; and one is the winner. By Martha Bernt How to Web Challenge 2012 in Let’s say that you are an aspiring ‘entrepreneur” with an idea for a startup or, maybe, you already have the funding, the business plan, the coding and whatever else which you have made ready for your oncoming product launch. In this case do not leave this page until you have read this article. Some of the European startup competitions, which you absolutely have to attend, are listed out here. Attending and taking part in these contests will make it easier for you to actually achieve what you have dreamed about. You will get the chance to network with people who have similar interests and who have a startup planned at various stages of development from the 10th to the 90th percentile. Some of these startup competitions are listed as follows: Bucharest The HTW web challenge contests are conducted out by the How to Web team, the cofounders of which are based in Romania. The aim behind the company is to draw attention to the innovative potential of Eastern Europe. How to Web conducts contests in various places during the year. The modus operandi is simple. You have to apply within a period mentioned and if selected you have to send your pitch for your product. Based upon this, participants are selected whose work is adjudged to be the best among the rest. These ten teams are given a chance to present their product or service to 750 web professionals in Bucharest. They get a free ticket and a 50% discount ticket. The European Challenge Showcase Belfast, Ireland Promoted by SWIFT, the contest is also known as the Innostart Startup Challenge 2012. It aims to bring innovative entrepreneurial ideas in the Financial Services Field. Teams from all over the globe can apply and there are no application fees. 3D/4D Printing Startup Competition in London, UK The API Mash up contest 2012 in In three-dimensional printing, the computer is given access to 3D readings from the object and a 3D image can be structured by layering one print over the last in line and so on. Tech for trade, a charity set up in early 2001, in collaboration with Econalyst UK and Makerbot, is promoting this challenge. The contest is for the most innovative idea and startup in 3D printing, having the potential to reduce global poverty. The contest winner gets $100,000 apart from networking sources and contacts. 8 UK The all-year round contest is for developers who can innovate using an API. You should submit your idea at api-mashup.com. The most original and useful coding skills win the contest. With one or two more instead of others, these are the most popular European Startup Contests in 2012 and a must visit occasion for the startup entrepreneur. MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 www.miemagazine.com 9 Magazine Section Magazine Section Companies Companies Index Ventures is a fully professional venture capital company which strictly abides by the investment dictum of Venture Capitalism, i.e. the shareholderâ€™s interest is of paramount importance. on impeccable record from a former client. The first meeting with Index may not be crammed with figures, graphs and plans but it may just be in the form of a verbal discussion. This is due to a fact that for any funding plan to be successful, Index will gauge the following qualities that are vital for success of any business venture: 1. Simplicity of the main idea for effective communication. The idea should be easily explained within two or three sentences maximum. 2. Commitment of the Promoters. They should have done their homework thoroughly and should know where exactly they are now and where they want to be within the next twelve months. 3. The passion of the entrepreneur team. The entrepreneurs should be enthusiastic and passionate about their proposal because it is their â€œbabyâ€?. I Another Considerations Index Ventures: What, Why and Who they fund By Martha Bernt 10 MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 I Overview ndex Ventures (IV), set up in 1996, is a London based partnership company. The company carries out investing money for setting up, development and capacity enhancement of business. Those businesses are chosen when the ideas behind the business are original and innovative but the entrepreneurs lack the necessary funds. Apart from London, IV also has offices in Switzerland and the US. IV specializes in the fields of IT and Life Science industries. In terms of types of companies that Index. Ventures funds, it is more comfortable with those companies that already have a market position and want to accelerate a company growth. t will be helpful for the entrepreneur to better understand the critical points which are important in the context of funding by a venture capital company if they have a look at partners as the representatives of the shareholders of the company. Thinking from this perspective, the first point is the main business idea. What research has been done to conclude that the service or product to be offered meets a need? Has a need analysis been done? Who are the target customers? Why is it assumed that the target customers will choose the product or service over the competitive ones? On what basis will the pricing be done? When will the company reach break even point and start making profits? What possible changes in the business market environment can bring unforeseen losses to the company? For example, a five year tax holiday is granted initially but then rolled back. The promoters should think in this perceptive to be ready for approaching Index Ventures. A Portfolio lthough Index Ventures is more comfortable with established companies, it should not be considered that they do not help startups. Index has funded startups and has provided seeding finance for many organizations. Naturally, in such cases, the process of funding qualification is tough. Some companies sponsored by Index Ventures and which are now well-known: Sound cloud, OZON.ru, Skype, Ofoto (Kodak), Dropbox, Factual, FilesX (IBM), and Zuora. I Approaching for funding t is very important to have a reference when approaching Index Ventures for funding. The company gives more weight to the proposal of a promoter team if they have a reference on a good credit history or from a partner of the company or www.miemagazine.com 11 Reviews Reviews United Kingdom A BASICS Cloud Service Service Provider from Microsoft’s s now became popular, Azure’s home page has a simple nerd-friendly design but it is packed with product information in an easy and informative manner. From one page the subscriber has access to the entire Microsoft Archives on Azure, serving three platforms common to cloud computing hosting, development and delivery management of content. It has to be mentioned that with its existing infrastructure Microsoft Azure (which offers both SaaS (Service as an Infrastructure) and PaaS (Platform as an Service) is now emerging as a serious player in the Cloud. Some experts like to define this compatibility as IaaS. I F TIE-UPS n 2010 some tie-ups of Microsoft with prominent IT giants globally like E-Bay, Fujitsu, and Dell were announced. You have to use Azure to access E-bay’s cloud portal and it is quite a bold move. USER-FRIENDLY or a brief idea of what information the Azure site contains, you can have a look at windowsazure.com. As you can see, Microsoft Azure is very user-friendly as any Microsoft product and can be tackled by non-geeks. Microsoft has even placed case studies of what famous companies have done with their services at the customer’s disposal. I only had a glimpse of Boeing case but the study said that Boeing has utilized the services so that you have a virtual experience of the aircraft itself. Are you skeptical? So am I. With information like this available in the cloud, there won’t be any need of competitor study soon. S SECURITY ecurity is a cause of concern in the cloud specially for companies whose bottom-line depends upon it. AWS (Amazon Web Services) has helped all service providers out by allowing pharmaceutical giant Eli Lily to walk away rather than saying “yes” to a complicated security understanding. These are early days still but for individuals and small companies security concerns should not be critical. As far as language compatibility is under concern it can work with any language. This will be found to be a boon for web developers. The software and programming tools which come with Azure will particularly excite them. Azure is a flexible platform that can easily integrate with your existing systems. Then you have the usual Microsoft Blogs, Downloads, User’s forum and all the other normal and useful stuff. Microsoft’s experience in developing operating systems will help it here to gain an upper hand over its nearest rivals like AWS. Finally, given the recent development of cloud computing, I will be more comfortable utilizing the services from Microsoft as my cloud provider than from someone else. It is due to a fact that with Microsoft I have an idea of standards of which I am unaware with a new company. Cloud Services Windows Azure: Despite the presence of small but focused companies like Nebula, Cloud Stack or Search Cloud, the giants of IT such as Amazon Web Services and IBM’s cloud presence are still in the UK top 10 cloud computing service providers. The fifth position in the top 10 is occupied by Microsoft Windows Azure. Unlike its ventures earlier, Microsoft wants to be a service provider for the cloud, too. By Mark Thompson 12 MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 www.miemagazine.com 13 Improving Features EMBASSY spotting dissatisfied customers across the social web By Anja Zinchenko A BrandEMBASSY Brand Improving Features s we all know the first step in popular ones like Facebook or Twitter and sort producing a compelling product or conversations where the company or its prodservice is to determine what con- uct is mentioned. sumer really needs. Then we design Conversations are sorted by their urgency our product to meet the consumers’ needs and and influence and are displayed to the complace it to the market. pany’s representative – brand ambassador. Now, how do we get consumers feedback Moreover, in April 2012 Brand Embassy and improve communication online? Is it launched a new product Engager. possible to know what customers really think It helps the brand ambassador not only see about our product? the post of dissatisfied customer but also be Certainly, big brands have their own cus- engaged into the conversation on the website tomer services in different countries but, after where the company or product was mentioned. all, not all of dissatisfied customers address So, the efficiency of helping a dissatisfied their complaints to the customer services. customer is claimed to be increased by 40%. Sometimes they will just complain in their Brand Embassy mentions that its product posts and conversations on is being used by such brands the social websites. So, how as Telefonica, Johnson and You can sign can we be more efficient in Johnson and Otto. finding and helping dissatisIt does not take a big brand to up for free 14 fied customers? find Brand Embassy useful. If days trial at brandembassy.com Brand Embassy, a startup you’re a startup with ambitious that launched its service in plans for growth and you care and check what 2011, offers a cloud-based about your customers this tool your customers tool that helps companies to may come in use. think about your reach out for more dissatisImproving the features of product. fied customers. They moniyour product by listening to tor 50,000,000 social webyour customer’s feedback is the sites daily including the most right way towards success. 14 MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 www.miemagazine.com 15 T he problem with general is that it is actually pretty much general. General is easy. General is as the word describes all that is generally known. So why would not you navigate beyond the general? Of course, if you are just starting or getting into the “startup” mindset you have to know the basics. You can’t play football right away. First, you have to learn how to walk, run and, preferably, change directions while doing so. Also, you will need a certain skill set with the ball and, lastly, you will have to play by the rules. You don’t have to know the rules but it will help to follow the advice of more experienced tutors. So, if this article isn’t about general startup stuff then what is it about you may ask. It is about process! P E rocess is the series of actions which you undertake to obtain a certain result. So, we should develop great processes. And here comes the best part. These things apply to every company that exists. Although a lot of people make big differences between various companies and business models the bitter truth is that the differences are pretty slim. Process wise. So keep this also in mind when founding and working with processes. verything is simple. If something isn’t simple you are not good at it and you should improve. The same principle applies to all the processes in a company. Whenever you do something and you feel that you succeed, write down the things that led you or your team to the result. It can be something big or small or totally unrelated. Then, throw this paper away. You should just get on by doing things. But as we all know there will always be need for different processes whether for sales or for employee recruitment. So we must have them. This is the way you will remember things that you need. If your mind lets it slip away then it wasn’t that important after all. Also, this is the way your archives will stay clean and your dropbox folder won’t clog with never-to-be-read documents of “how to do stuff”. Admit it. You never read them anyway. How to build My advice is simple. The way to success is easy: do, learn and repeat if necessary. all the By Villi Urpilainen Innovator, Twitter: vonelone PROCESSES for a STARTUP If you want to read only general stuff about startups you have a problem. 16 MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 www.miemagazine.com 17 Startup Startup Entrepreneurship: By Johanna Berg Ten Common Mistakes As with any process, a startup business is fragile in the period immediately after its birth. However, the number of goof-ups made during this sensitive period tends to outscore the mistakes made later, in both quantity and intensity. Some of those are the following: Trying to do it alone Your idea may be unique and completely original, but controversy may make it look like you follow in somebody’s footsteps. “IP misappropriation” and “unfair trade practice’ are some terms which will be bandied about. A competent lawyer will solve your problems but time is lost. Employ the lawyer beforehand, and with his help examine all possible loopholes and plug them one by one. Omitting a business plan 18 1 2 3 Very few successful businesses are single founder type. To think of an idea, give it utility, monetize it, and to turn it into a profitable business requires multi-perspective vision. A lone promoter also reinforces a “No-Confidence” image. Passing over Intellectual Property (IP) legalities A detailed business plan is necessary for entrepreneurial success since it is the road which guides you. It tells you where you should allocate resources and/ or time for optimal effect. In case your assumptions are not correct, it might show where you went wrong. Otherwise, chances of you moving around in circles are high. MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 Getting the market research wrong Resources should be available to you when you need them not before or afterwards. Apart from Venture Capital and Angel investors, explore all sources of funding which may be relevant. However, whatever funding you agree on, keep your foot on the accelerator at all times. Lowering the estimated budget Excessive delays create doubts in your mind as well as in your investor’s minds, also agitating your staff and all the people who are involved. Do not make any declaration of the exact date of launch but try your best to launch as you had planned. Thinking too much about failure will result in failure. Not taking startup meetings seriously There will be times when new and new problems will keep on cropping up when it will be easy to lose heart and get bogged down. Maintain the momentum and do not break it. If the vehicle rattles, let it be. Reviews 4 5 6 7 8 9 Relaxing after crossing 10 the finish line www.miemagazine.com Market research is a must activity. [An appropriate analogy will be Analytics to SEO activity]. It is worth hiring a specialist to do your market research but choose well. Remember, each research is a new ball game and track results count for nothing. The specialist’s report should show the results in details as well as the basis of the research. Research should be of your target clients. Not finalizing your funding plan It makes good business sense to have a secondary funding plan ready, which you can utilize to accumulate another 50% of your initially planned budget. Generally, programming costs cannot be acutely forecasted. Unknowns like programming can play chaos with your funds. So, be ready for extra costs! Delaying the launch Attend startup meetings and network with similar people as the D-day gets closer. It would be also a good idea to do that for another 30-90 days after the launch. Tell people of the problems you face and ask questions. You will gain knowledge and publicity. Losing the momentum So after a year your business is a winner, generating strong revenues and interest. Should you relax now? No, that is a fatal mistake. Improve. Think. Innovate. All the time. IBM’s Office Software was excellent but they relaxed and look what happened. 19 Estonia a taxi Magazine Section Magazine Section TaxiPal: booking APP from Estonia TaxiPal Location TaxiPal is available for testing at taxipal.com. Have you ever found yourself in a situation when you are in a foreign city in need for a taxi but there is none around? Now there is a solution to this problem thanks to an Estonian know-how. By Anja Zinchenko A ll you need to do is to have an app TaxiPal on your mobile phone. It will organize your ride to anywhere through its taxi booking service. TaxiPal debuted in February 2010 as a project from R&D and technology solution provider “T+1 Solutions”. For the past two years it has already won a few rewards and was listed in the Top 2011 Red Herring Europe reward which names the most promising private technology ventures every year. Users have already appreciated its true value and nowadays the service already covers 31 countries including European countries, US and Canada with 2500 cities in total. TaxiPal is quite easy to use. It automatically determines your location and gives you information on taxi companies available in your area. All you need to do is to push a couple of buttons to open an order form. The filled form is sent to taxi companies from the data base in the app. Taxi companies answer your request by sending their offers with fares. Moreover, Taxi Pal calculates the optimal distance to your destination. So, you www.miemagazine.com just choose the most suitable offer. Also, you don’t have to know the local language to order a taxi. TaxiPal is a multi-lingual service so foreign language cannot be a barrier for you. It even converts the local taxi fares to a currency of your choice so taxi ordering could never be easier for you. In addition to taxi companies’ database, TaxiPal includes an extensive database of local businesses and touristic places of interest. You can choose a destination from this database and TaxiPal takes care of your ride there. The place can be found by its name, its type or its location. TaxiPal also offer benefits for taxi companies. First of all, TaxiPal is a good marketing tool that can allow a taxi company to have its name on every smartphone in the world. So, the name does not necessarily have to be known since it is in the database. It makes a company more reachable and allows getting more clients. Also, the dispatcher doesn’t have to know foreign language which sometimes can cause a loss of a potential client. Another benefit is that TaxiPal provides reports to taxi company about the ratings and feedback the clients give. As for orders, they are done as electronic requests so mistakes in data entry are minimized. For travelers TaxiPal is a very good offer: the problem of language is solved; there is no need to search for taxi phone numbers and compare their prices. TaxiPal allow you to use only your mobile phone. You can download Taxi Pal from taxipal.com for free as the fare for using the app is withdrawn only from the taxi companies. Nowadays it is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian phones. 21 Magazine Section Magazine Section TIPS on how your business can benefit from social media MARKETING By Benedicta Ideho Have you ever felt that the social media has become crowded and noisy lately? I have felt that way at some point, especially when a marketer is trying to pitch to me. Social media is here to stay and it’s not going anywhere. 22 MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012 People tend to find increasing marketing pretty annoying and obtrusive in the social media space such as Facebook. So how do you get your voice held as an entrepreneur? Reflect on this: Do you have a product people will want to talk about? If you have taken a few minutes to reflect on it and your answer is positive, then you are on your way to leverage some social media goodness. Getting yourself heard above the buzz involves incorporating the brick and mortar experiences in your social media space. Set your positioning W ho are you? What do you do? Why does it matter and why are you better? What makes your product pop? The ‘why’ is an important aspect of your business because people do not necessarily buy what you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it. The ‘why’ should resonate with them and this makes your customers loyal fans. No Pitching Y ou should avoid trying to control or steer any ongoing conversation in your social media space. This invariable leads to pitching, supporters do not like this. Instead focus on providing valuable consumer experiences. Help them achieve their goals. Fulfill their desires and needs. You can, of course, provide rules of engagement but try not to ‘pitch’ instead of solving a consumer’s problem. Handling negative comments H aving a negative comment on your Facebook fan page, for example, is a grand way of showing just how much you care about your consumer experiences and how human you are. You may be tempted to delete such remarks that will put a dent on your credibility and trust. Instead, apologize and seek to redress the issue. Handle with care. Do not forget other consumers are evaluating your response. If handled correctly, you will not only gain one more happy customer but a raving loyal one that will gladly spread your services amongst circles. Using Gamification E ngaging your fans or consumers by creating online game events such as sweepstakes, giving a reward if they perform a certain action on your social media space helps to create a sense of community. This, in turn, improves your ROI, credibility and referrals. Optimizing Search Engines A Facebook fanpage cannot substitute for your website because it is not controlled ultimately by you. Therefore, creating inbound links to your websites is very important. You can do this by being a source of information for your fans on your fanpage and directing them to your website for further information. Other websites with valuable content will willingly connect with you sharing their information as well on your website. It can increase your ranking in the search engines. These tips can also be implemented on twitter or any other social media platform. Providing valuable information that genuinely seeks to solve problems helps to put you and your business above the digital buzz. Do not forget that word of mouth is still the most valuable means of generating leads for your business. www.miemagazine.com 23 Magazine Section Entrepreneurship FUNDAMENTALS It is often easy to get carried away with managing a startup and, then, certain fundamentals tend to be forgotten over time. By Benedicta Ideho The following tips should help you to reflect on your entrepreneurship skills and optimize your processes. I will try to keep them short and sweet. Management Do you inspire your employees? It is always a mistake to expect your employees to be like you. Entrepreneurs tend to absorb a lot of information but do not share it with their employees. Organizing periodic trainings helps to provide valuable information for your employees so they become more productive and efficient. Finance What are your numbers? Are you winning or losing money? Money to an entrepreneur is like a score board for a basketball player. It reflects where you are at the moment and where you want to be. Holding quarterly or annual reviews helps to stay focused. Sales Develop a strategic sales plan and teach your employees. It helps to replicate the process as the business grows. Accountability and responsibility This is a feature the giant Apple is good at. Make every employee responsible and accountable for a task. It creates specialty and reduces inefficiency and resource loss. Most importantly, you want your employees to feel they have a stake in your business. They should feel like it is their own. This helps to increase efficiency and productivity. 24 MIEMAGAZINE June 01, 2012