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Fred Wilson: Entrepreneurs Are The New City Planners
 

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Web Entrepreneurs redefine city life. Fred Wilson looks at a handful of startups that are, in one way or another, influencing the way people live in cities. "But there is something new afoot in urban life," he writes. "And it starts with the mobile phone, a computer in our pocket or purse, that is with us at all times." Wilson cites Twitter, Foursquare, Outside.in, and CitySourced--a startup that launched last week that allows people to report pot holes to the local authorities using a smart phone--as examples. He predicts that the market for this type of company is growing: "And we are just at the very beginning...Think about what happens when we get new interfaces on our phones that don't require us to be looking down and typing when we we are out and about."

Brooklyn's cluster retail model pays off in the recession. Along the affluent stretches of Smith and Court streets in Brooklyn, entrepreneurs have spent the past decade or so building mini empires using the 'cluster retail' model. Rather than a successful business replicating itself in a new area, reports the New York Times, these companies are keeping it "aggressively local" by opening slightly different stores and restaurants in the same neighborhood--figuring that if you like their yoga studio, you might be willing to try their kid's clothing boutique, and so on. By diversifying, companies can leverage their cache with residents without cannibalizing their own business, says Raymond J. Keating, the chief economist with the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, adding that in a rough economic climate, sales in one shop can mitigate losses at another.

Small business could benefit from the Obama admin.'s new web traffic policy. As the Web continues to drift further away from "hobby" toward "way of life," the government has been stepping up in its traffic policing. Fresh off the heels of an ad privacy bill proposed by Congress, the Wall Street Journal reports that the FCC plans to force phone and cable giants like AT&T and Comcast to allow equal Internet access to all companies. The move would prevent operators from blocking or slowing access to certain services or sites, which could dent the pockets of the service providers, but grant more freedom to cellphone and computer users who employ bandwith-heavy applications -- which means major revenue opportunities for small businesses and app developers.

My Dinner with Zuckerberg A viral loop is the holy grail of a web start-up, easy to dream of, but hard to find. It basically means your site grows exponentially driven by things like network effects where 1) more people use the site, 2) the more people use it the more information is available which increases the site's value or utility, 3) repeat step 1. Facebook is a classic example of this kind of heady meteoric growth and Fast Company has an exclusive interview with Mark Zuckerberg on how he started tinkering with computers and how he rode the viral loop to success. For more growth tips, check out how to grow your company quickly, and find out how fast is too fast?

82 organizations divulge their social media policies. Are your employees allowed to twitter about internal meetings? Can they post criticisms about a colleague if their blog is anonymous? Do they need to keep boozy party photos private on Facebook? In addition to its published guides on the do's and don'ts of sharing for businesses, Mashable tracked down author Chris Boudreaux's database of 82 policies from SAP and Microsoft to the City of Seattle and Robert Scoble (okay, so the last one's not really an organization). The policies, which Boudreaux used in developing his upcoming book, Social Media Governance, might be a good primer as you're hashing our your own workplace guidelines on what's acceptable and what isn't.

Reinventing the wheel. Coming up with a patent-worthy idea is one thing. Protecting a patent is sometimes even harder (and oftentimes more expensive). But The New York Times explains this morning why independent inventors have a reason to smile: the growing patent marketplace.

Illinois start-ups feel unloved. With the fifth largest population in the nation and a thriving university system, the Land of Lincoln would seem to be an ideal place to start a business. However, local entrepreneurs feel Illinois, has given them the cold shoulder. As the Chicago Tribune reports, a plan to put $75 million in state investment dollars toward seeding young companies failed to pass, as did a state tax credit to encourage investing in local start-ups. The CEO of one Skokie, Illinois-based nanotechnology firm vented to the paper, "It's a very hard state to be in. We have no public-private partnerships. We have no incentives to move people here. We have no assistance for entrepreneurs. It's easier to do the Olympics." The Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization claims change may be slow in coming, but it is on its way, as exemplified by a $15 million plan to help start-ups buy capital equipment which was enacted this year.

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Last updated: Sep 21, 2009




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