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Death of the Elevator Pitch

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Is the elevator pitch extinct? New York City VC Mark Peter Davis says it is. Writing on the Business Insider, Davis says that the scenario very rarely occurs when an entrepreneur has to deliver a blazing fast one-minute summary of their business to a trapped investor. As he explains, "While entrepreneurs can meet investors at networking events, at pitch events, and yes, in elevators, they don't need to feel that they have to corner the investor and deliver a canned 1-minute light-speed monologue about their business before the investor can get away." Rather, Davis says that investors, by their nature, are constantly seeking great entrepreneurs and if they run across a credible one, they will take the time to learn about their business through the course of a normal conversation.

Zipcar to go public. The car sharing service announced today that it filed for an initial public offering. The news comes via The New York Times, which says that the company intends to raise $75 million to "pay off debt and help with general expenses." Zipcar's registration with the SEC indicates that although it has grown quickly--hitting $131 million in revenue last year, up from $106 million the year before--it has yet to turn a profit. Even so, the IPO filing represents a milestone for the company, which transformed car sharing from a countercultural pipe-dream to a mainstream business phenomenon. To read how that happened, check out Stephanie Clifford's Inc. magazine story for Zipcar's seven-point strategy for how to create $100 million company.

Having problems with employee turnover? Counter-intuitive as it sounds, one Ohio-based business owner has found that the best way to keep your staff is to train them for other careers. Derek Christian, owner of the cleaning company My Maid Service, tells CNN Money that back in 2007, his average employee stayed with the company for only four months, and Christian was forced to spend most of his time training the constantly changing workforce. He decided to take a new approach to employee incentives: anyone who stays with the company for at least two years gets free training in the career of their choice. By 2009, the employee turnover rate had dropped to zero and, Christian says, "The lower employee turnover rate leads to higher customer retention." Dan Bobinski, author of Creating Passion-Driven Teams tells CNN why this model could work for other similar businesses, as well. He says of Christian, "He's looking at their motivation and saying 'If you stay with me doing these menial jobs, I'll pay for what you really want to do.'"

Retargeting start-up gets snatched up. In May, we brought you a strategy article on how to use retargeting for your small business. Retargeting is an advertising tactic that allows companies to track down customers who visited their site but left without making a purchase. Now, as TechCrunch reports, GSI Commerce has agreed to purchase retargeting start-up FetchBack for a reported $40 million. "GSI Commerce powers many online retailers," TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld writes. "Adding a retargeting capability to its marketing services is a no-brainer, since retargeting is basically a way to drive customers back to your shopping site after they've left."

Facebook ventures Into the Q&A space. It's no wonder many large Web companies have attempted to launch Q&A services. Especially when the answers are user-generated, you can create valuable search-friendly information for people with little effort. AllThingsD notes that while companies like Google and Yahoo have tried their hand at Q&A and fallen short, Facebook, which has been advertising for beta testers, may have just the scale of the user community to make the project work. The article acknowledges that Google and Yahoo! both had scale on their sites, but it goes on to say that "both sites boast core services based on moving freely in and out of their pages. Nothing keeps users in like a walled garden." Facebook does. Here's how to use online question and answer sites to help your business.

Chris Dixon on why the VC model is broken. Silicon Valley investors keep Hunch co-founder Chris Dixon on their speed-dial for a few reasons: he's not afraid to talk about tech industry taboos, he sold his previous company to McAfee, and he's an angel investor himself, financing start-ups through Founder Collective. Check out GigaOm for a frank video chat between Dixon and Om Malik about  the rise of super angels and micro VCs (what Malick calls "a new trend that's shaking the venture capital industry to its very core"), how to avoid "extractors," and why fewer entrepreneurs swing for the fences.

Should your small business jump on the group buying bandwagon? With the market leader recently valued at $1.2 billion, it's no secret that group buying is heating up. OPEN Forum takes a look at the growing trend as a new opportunity for small businesses to serve their customers. Their conclusion? "There's no rush for most small businesses to dive in, but if group buying is a good fit to move your brand forward now is a great time to get involved." For more on group buying, check out our piece from our April issue on how to use Groupon to boost sales.

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Last updated: Jun 1, 2010




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