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Rock Star Advice from a Video-Game Hero

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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

Rock star advice for first-time CEOs. You might remember that back in 2008 we introduced you to Alex Rigopulos and his company Harmonix Music Systems, makers of the uber-popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band video game franchises. Today, tech blog Xconomy catches up with Rigopulos to discuss what's next for Harmonix, the upcoming release of Rock Band 3, as well as to get his advice for first-time CEOs who are in the midst of starting their own businesses. While Rigopulos stresses the familiar themes of surrounding yourself with good people and remaining optimistic, he does have one piece of advice that is somewhat counterintuitive: "It's vitally important that entrepreneurs run towards the bad news, do everything they can to aggressively confront the holes in their thinking, so that they can either plug them or change course. Otherwise, years can be lost and ships can be run aground because storm clouds were optimistically ignored."

Quick! I need a good deal. According to VentureBeat today, the California-based Center'd is launching its Dealmap Android app today. The app lets users utilize the GPS to figure out the best deals nearby and aggregates them from around 100 sources. The Center'd iPhone app has been downloaded more than 175,000 times in its first six weeks. According to the article, "the app sorts through more than 350,000 local deals and coupons and makes them available to consumers where they want them on web sites, social apps, daily emails and mobile apps." So, essentially, if you suddenly find yourself wanting a new pair of pants, say, you can use the app to learn about any sales or promotions nearby. Center'd has raised $10 million from Norwest Venture Partners and KeyNote Ventures.

Speaking of a good deal... Who doesn't love one? Well, about a third of the small businesses that offer them don't, according to a Rice University study reported by The Wall Street Journal. The study looked at group-buying sites like Groupon, which feature daily discounts for local goods, services, or events. The catch in this model is that the deal is only good if a certain number of people buy it, kind of like a reserve price at an auction. However, 32% of 150 participating merchants said they were unprofitable, and 40% said they wouldn't do it again. Groupon, along with its copycats, have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from their promotions. But they may need to tweak their models to continue to be so successful. "I think these findings show that social promotion companies need to better balance consumer appeal with positive outcomes for the small businesses offering them," said Utpal Dholaki, the author of the study. "Right now, these deals are tilted too far in consumers' favor."

A somber reminder about the power of social media. Video chat, Twitter, and Facebook may seem like innocuous and helpful ways to connect with people, so it's easy to forget how quickly and easily they can be used for harm. Today's New York Times reports on the story of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman whose private sexual encounter with another man was broadcast live by his roomate's webcam. Clementi chose to commit suicide only one day after his roomate Tweeted, "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it's happening again." Clementi's roomate, along with another 18-year-old student, are being charged with two counts of invasion of privacy, which carries a maximum five year sentence, reports The Times. Perhaps this tragedy serves to illustrate yet another reminder that innovations in technology--as well as the ease of access to it--carry responsibilities for those who choose to use it.

Inc. 500|5000 Conference kicks off. Tonight marks the launch of our annual Inc. 500|5000 Conference, a chance to celebrate those companies who earned a spot on our Inc. 500|5000 list, which is being held at the Gaylord National Hotel just outside of Washington D.C. The three-day event will features debates, breakout sessions, panel discussions, and presentations from a wide range of CEOs and entrepreneurs including Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm. Stay tuned to Inc.com for updates and highlights from the event.

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Last updated: Sep 30, 2010




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