"Make Stuff That Doesn't Suck"
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
A lesson from Wikipedia's founder. It's simple: "Make stuff that doesn't suck." Founder Jimmy Wales caught up with our friends at Fast Company to talk about Wiki 2.0, a new product he's releasing for his for-profit platform, Wikia. It allows fans of a brand, be it Twilight or Staples, to create entire Wikipedia-esque sites, dedicated to that particular brand. Lostpedia, for example, has been a particular success. The purpose of Wiki 2.0 is to add social features to these sites, including video content and badges. While it might be scary for a business or brand to relinquish power to the public, Wales says people should be less concerned about their brands' reputations and more concerned with the quality of their products. "I want us to build stuff that I think is cool—that our fans think is cool," Wales tells Fast Company. "Maybe that makes me a better businessman in some ways, and worse in others, but I just don't care."
"Too much money chasing too few deals." Sean Parker, the entrepreneur behind Napster who's also known as a Facebook visionary, is bemoaning the state of the venture capital industry. "The risk-reward doesn't work out in favor of putting money into venture capital anymore," he tells the New York Times, though he himself is a partner in a venture capital firm that owns stakes in Facebook and Elon Musk's private spaceflight company SpaceX. Though Parker can be prone to hyperbole, he brings up a valid point: The problem with the venture business means "innovation could gradually grind to a halt or at least become less effective."
Yelp "checks in" to the party. First it was Foursquare, then Facebook, and now Yelp is the latest company to add location-based check-in services to its offerings. Today Mashable reports that Yelp's new "Check-in Offers" will let businesses incentivize repeat check-ins and reward patrons with discounts, free products, or fixed price offers. Patrons can also work to achieve offers with venue check ins via newly updated iPhone and Android apps. With these apps, the company believes it has a unique opportunity to merge search habits with offers that influence behavior. "Thirty percent of all Yelp search traffic is happening on our mobile apps, which means people are using the Yelp apps for businesses around them," said Eric Singley, Yelp's director of mobile and consumer products. "[the apps] are an opportunity for businesses to get in front of users, and checkin offers can help influence their decisions."
The business of body scanning. These are good times for Rapiscan, one of the companies that manufactures airport body scanners. Slate reports that the Virgina-based company, which supplies body-scanners to about 70 U.S. airports, is poised for a big year. "The people-scanning business is growing," the article notes. "About a year ago, the firm won $173 million in TSA contracts to produce Secure 1000s for airports. (L-3 Communications, another major contractor, won a similar-sized deal.) About 1,000 machines will be in place by the end of next year." After all, how many "don't touch my junk" lawsuits must the TSA deal with until the pat-downs are phased out for the high-tech alternative?
And just when you think you've seen it all... someone goes and makes these: fig leaf undies specially designed to shield your nether regions from the TSA's full-body scanners. The panties, made by a Colorado inventor, have powdered metal in all the right places, that won't trigger the metal detector. Even so, the folks over at Gearlog wonder if the self-censoring undies won't attract enough suspicion to warrant one of these.
Is the stock-up era over? The days of consumers stocking up on large quantities of food regularly and buying clothes seasons in advance seem to be long gone. Retailers are altering their manufacturing and merchandising strategies in response, The Wall Street Journal reports today. "Apparel makers and retailers...are changing their production and selling schedules for shoppers who increasingly want to buy their clothes in season," the paper reports. At the same time, club stores like Costco and BJ's have been unveiling smaller unit sizes to increase frequency of consumer visits. "The concept that club stores are only for stock-up visit—I don't think that's true anymore," a BJ's exec told the paper. If this consumer trend continues, they can't be.
Do your coders need better "hygiene and care?" A study of nearly 100 software engineers at a development firm in India found that a high proportion suffered from "severe insomnia," and the majority had some sleep problems, which put their mental health and hygiene at risk. The study, published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, found that less than half of coders were sleeping normally. Can the problem be remedied, even if job-related stress is high? Or are you laughing too hard about the "hygiene" part of the findings? Well, the authors suggest that "lifestyle management programmes which include sleep hygiene and care should be incorporated as a policy matter in the IT industry." Really? Managers, what do you think?
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.