Top Small Business Cities and a Twitter Challenger
BY Jason Del Rey
The 50 best places to launch a new small business. CNNMoney.com ranks the best cities to start a new company based on access to affordable workers, growing economies, low crime rates, and stable housing markets. The top five may surprise you. Oklahoma City takes the number one spot, followed by Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Houston, and Hartford. You can search the list by how many SBA 7(a) loans were doled out in 2009, including the money lent and top lender; by average hourly wage; or by area with the fastest growth. So what won Oklahoma City the top slot? Beyond having the second lowest foreclosure rate and the second lowest median rent, "Oklahoma City also benefits from a high concentration of deep-pocketed local investors, many of them veterans of the oil and gas industry, who are willing to take a gamble on companies that might spend 10 years bringing a new product to fruition." For another tool to help you pick the right location to set up shop, check out our profile of San Francisco-based GIS Planning.
A Twitter competitor in the making? The founders of real-time photo-sharing website DailyBooth recently dished to The Wall Street Journal on why their service is better than Twitter, and how they raised $1 million from VCs and angel investors. The start-up, which allows users to post photo updates rather than written ones (see co-founder Jon Wheatley's upload of him with a pretty tasting-looking pizza), lists Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake and Digg co-founder Kevin Rose among its investors, as well as Y Combinator, Paul Graham's venture firm that helps launch early-stage start-ups. DailyBooth's founders say their website has six million monthly unique visitors, and is growing by about 35 percent a month. So why will DailyBooth outlast other real-time social networking platforms? "People following you get so much more gratification seeing a photo rather than reading a tweet about something," Wheatley says. Let the competition begin.
Google Android ads target entrepreneurs While we were ensconced watching many hours of football this weekend, we noticed a strange new television commercial. It started out like an ad for Apple's iPhone--happy music, white background--but then it got weird. Turns out it's for a new cell phone, the Motorola Droid, according to Mashable, which asks if it could become, "a true challenger to the iPhone." We're not sure if that's the case, but the spot is certainly aimed at an important iPhone constituency: App developers. It includes technical details--such as the fact that the new phone, which runs Google's Android operating system, allows for "open development," "widgets," and "simultaneous apps"--that few consumers understand but that are of special concern to companies making cell phone applications. Meanwhile, Boy Genuis Report, has a first look at the new handset and is impressed.
An e-reader for the business set? The e-reader market is experiencing a deluge of biblical proportions, with would-be Kindle competitors popping up all the time. But the latest such device, dubbed the Que (pronounced "q") by Mountainview, California-based Plastic Logic, is supposedly attuned specifically to the needs of businesspeople. The company's PR team has only released a tantalizing side view of the reader, and from the features they list so far, including 3G and the ability to store and edit Office documents, it's unclear how much better the Que is suited for the suit on the go than for the average Joe. The Que isn't available yet, with more info on it coming at January's Consumer Electronics Show.
Invest like top investors. Last year, the web start-up kaChing launched with the goal of bringing transparency to investing by creating an online platform for virtual trading where amateur and professional investors mingled side by side. Now, as The New York Times' Claire Cain Miller reports this morning, investors on kaChing can trade with real money and automatically copy the investments of the site's top traders or "Geniuses." Like all good things, though, mirroring a Genius's trading comes with a price: 0.25 to 3 percent of your portfolio.
Pro ticket start-up scores big. Sports fans can attest that the only thing more painful than watching their favorite team stumble their way through a losing season is having to pay sky-high ticket prices to watch their failing efforts. Austin-based startup Qcue (pronounced cue-cue) may not be able to help your team win, but they are helping professional sports organizations adjust their ticket prices to match their team's performance. Today's Austin American-Statesman has a profile on Qcue and the buzz their business is generating amongst sports teams and investors. The company's software, which allows teams to adjust their ticket prices based on a number of factors--including a team's performance, the weather, and the opponent--was already a big success with the San Francisco Giants this season. Just recently, Qcue signed a similar deal with the NHL's Dallas Stars. As for investors, the company has raised $1 million from private investors and is set to announce next week that it has secured addition funding.
Do free business cards give the right first impression about your company? Maybe so, according to the New York Daily News, which explains that free business cards may make you or your company look cheap, at first glance. Though several sites, such as Vistaprint.com, and Bizcard.com offer packs of 250 or more free, their main objective is to get you to become a paying customer and start buying other office supplies, such as stationary or pens and pencils. While the freebies are always an easy option, if you want to ensure your product or service is delivering a high-end message, it may be worth your reputation to fork over the cash for a higher quality card.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey