Face the Competition and Go Global

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How to face a well-funded competitor. Ryan Janssen was all set to launch his startup, SetJam, a TV Guide for the Internet. But, just weeks before he was ready to go live, he learned of a well funded competitor, Clicker.com, which had just launched. Clicker has raised $8 million in venture capital funding, compared to $50,000 for SetJam. As Janssen writes, "the URL of the startup -- 'clicker.com' -- probably cost more than the life savings I'd put into SetJam." So what's his plan? Janssen says he's using an affiliate marketing model that will allow his site to be profitable immediately, and he plans to turn a his company's weakness--a lack of funds--into an advantage. "SetJam is stripped down to the bare essentials," he says. "I'll let our users tell us what they need instead of deciding for them." (Via Hacker News)

Facebook helps you go global on the cheap. We've written before about Facebook's innovate approach to translating its website into other languages--the company lets its own users do the work. Now the site is offering its users' language services to other companies. Erick Schonfeld of Techcrunch has the news and says it could be a boon for small companies looking to expand globally. "The Internet is a global platform, which makes translation a must for sites both large and small," he writes. "Even if the translations aren't top-notch off the bat, they will improve over time if enough people who speak a particular language care enough about a site to fix it."

The next wave of hip, young cities. When the economy bounces back, which cities will be lucky enough to welcome the throngs of young graduates who have a knack for revitalizing local economies? The Wall Street Journal is willing to take a guess, with their list of the top five youth-magnet cities that will likely emerge after the recession lifts. The most notable aspect of the Journal's predictions is the move away from smaller, trendy cities, especially ones in the Southeast, and a return to big cities. Washington, D.C., Seattle, and New York City take the three top spots, which the Journal's panelists attribute to young people being more pragmatic after being stung by the recession. But quirky cities still have some sway over young people; Portland, Oregon and Austin remain among the top five destinations for twenty-somethings looking to settle down.

One developer's Kafka-esque nightmare with the Palm Pre. A few days after the Palm Pre was released, developer Jamie Zawinski created the second and third apps ever available for the phone: a restaurant tip calculator and a clock program. Now, months later, neither app is available in Palm's App Catalog. Zawinski says "if you, a developer, want to get your software into the hands of your customers, you have to beg and plead and wheedle Palm to distribute it for you." (Hat tip, AllThingsD.)

Maintaining morale in a recession. Even if things at your company are going well, stress can still worm its way into the workplace. Jennifer Walzer, the founder of Backup My Info, writes for the New York Times about how simple things like an open door policy and a "pat on the back" system that keeps everyone focused on positive accomplishments, whether that means solving a client's problem or running a marathon, keep morale high during a recession. You can also see what Kevin Plank of Under Armour has to say on motivating employees in tough times plus eight more tips on the subject from the Inc. staff.

Tax deadline approaching. If you got an extension on filing your company's tax return back in April, you probably know that October 15 is now your due date. But if you're thinking about blowing off this deadline, too, the Associated Press explains why you should reconsider. (Via the Chicago Tribune.)

Get your tuition's worth from research labs. Lately, there's been a lot of talk about how entrepreneurs can save the economy. Just last week, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference that the Obama administration would create a new office to help entrepreneurs and innovators. Today, TechCrunch has a post about how young entrepreneurs can use their university's research facilities to help shape and commercialize their ideas. Though researchers in university labs often come across breakthroughs in technology, as Vivek Wadhwa, an Executive in Residence at Duke, writes, they rarely see the light of day because of a lack of funding. To bridge the gap, he suggests talking to tech transfer offices, engaging well-connected faculty members, and joining university entrepreneurship groups.

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Last updated: Sep 30, 2009




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