Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Breaking down your pricing. Ever wonder how the way you partition the pricing of your product affects consumer behavior? Well, the good professors at the University of Maryland have conducted comprehensive research that can tell you when it's smart to include additional costs like shipping into the base price of your product and when it's best to break everything out separately.
Drive a CEO to the airport. That's the advice given to aspiring entrepreneurs on Seattle VC Andy Sack's blog, A Sack of Seattle. Most seasoned entrepreneurs are more than willing to share their experiences with up-and-comers, it's just that they are too busy to find the time. For an eager young entrepreneur willing to play the role of chauffeur, the 30-to-60 minute drive to the airport is the perfect opportunity for some quality one-on-one time with a successful mentor. Think of it as a win-win for everyone involved--the CEO gets a free ride to the airport, and the aspiring entrepreneur gets some free business advice from a proven businessperson. As Sack says, "You can call it aggressive, cheap, crazy...but you should also call it effective."
Bridging education and the private sector. Today, President Obama is announcing a new CEO-driven education program called Change the Equation, in which companies like Facebook and Google will work to promote more science, technology, engineering and math programs in schools. According to Fast Company, the Change the Equation initiative aims to change the fact that, "out of 30 industrialized nations, the United States ranks 21st in science and 25th in math." The 100 businesses involved in the program will not only invest in education, as many of them already do, but they will also sponsor science and robotics competitions and teacher training programs. Sally Ride, who was the first American woman in space, is a founding member of Change the Equation, along with former Intel CEO Craig Barrett. Ride tells Fast Company, 'Literacy is not just being able to read anymore. It's being able to read, to calculate, to analyze--we as a nation need to change the way we think of literacy.'
Buddying up and cashing in. Looking to reduce marketing and advertising expenses in these tough times? The Wall Street Journal suggests partnering up with bigger-named companies that can integrate your products in ad campaigns of their own. Take Mountain News Corp., which tracks snow conditions for ski mountains through its website. The company received a dramatic spike in exposure (a million new unique visitors each month to its site) after its mobile-phone app was featured in an Apple iPhone commercial, without costing them a cent. While Apple might not be on the other line any time soon, you can still consider opportunities to ride the coattails of larger companies as a cheap marketing alternative. There's a danger of diluting your brand too heavily, the Journal says, so be sure to choose your partnerships wisely.
Why launch with product flaws? New York Times tech writer David Pogue asks that question about Vulkano, a device that's like a combination of TiVo and Slingbox. Developed by Monsoon Multimedia, a tech start-up founded in 2004, Vulkano records TV shows to its internal memory, and then lets you play them back on your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, or BlackBerry. You can also watch the shows on your TV later, just like a DVR, or even watch live TV on your smartphone. Pogue points out that the video quality is good and the design is pretty unobtrusive, but the Vulkano has its shortcomings. "Unfortunately," Pogue writes, "the Vulkano box is nowhere near ready for prime time. It's riddled with bugs, problems, limitations and absurd design flaws." With all the flaws, Pogue wonders why the company decided to even launch the product. "The real question is," he says, "Why is the company selling it at this point?"