Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
More is almost never better. Whether you're building a product, giving a pitch to investors, or presenting at a conference, a minimalist approach is almost always the better approach, writes entrepreneur-turned-VC Mark Suster in his most recent blog post, which is full of practical advice. "For years I've been offering advice on how to better communicate and for years I've seen most people commit the same universal mistake: Including too many details," Suster writes. "Less is more effective. Less has more impact. Less actually takes more effort."
The man who made networking social. Scott Heiferman founded Meetup, a Web company that helps strangers with similar interests well, meet up, back in 2002, inspired by the September 11th terrorist attacks. He tells The Wall Street Journal that after reading the book Bowling Alone, he started "thinking about local communities in a new era." Eight years later, the company brings in $12 million in revenue a year and hosts 50,000 Meetups in 100 countries every week. Heiferman says the company's "secret sauce" is its ability to change and the fact that they're not afraid to "blow it up once in a while." What exactly does that mean? Heiferman explains, "We went from free to fee five years ago; it was a bet-the-company moment...At first we lost 90% of our activity...It was a quality filter as much as a revenue model. Now we're much bigger than when we were free and it's a sustainable, profitable business."
Is Thanksgiving Thursday the new Black Friday? That's a question The New York Times ponders as more shoppers do their digging for deals virtually, rather than trekking out in the cold and battling cranky fellow shoppers in lines. Last year, $318 million was spent online on Thanksgiving, an increase of more than 10 percent from 2008. Retailers are getting an early boost from Web sales: "We'd rather capture it online than open up on Thursday," says Michael J. Boylson, chief marketing officer for Walmart.
The Kinect hackers Imagine making a scientific breakthrough on a device intended for Zumba dancing and Harry Potter role-playing. The New York Times reports on a growing number of "programmers, roboticists and tinkerers" that are tapping the Xbox Kinect's software to create 3-D models and hi-tech robots. In this YouTube video, Oliver Kreylos, a computer scientist, shows how he used the Kinect to create mesmerizing "holographic" images on his computer. The Times notes that "The attraction of the device is that it is outfitted with cameras, sensors and software that let it detect movement, depth, and the shape and position of the human body." Microsoft, though, seems less impressed. At first, they issued "vague threats," but now they've conceded to the hackers. "It's naive to think that any new technology that comes out won't have a group that tinkers with it," said one senior director at Xbox.
Almost 40, and still running wild. Southwest Airlines, known for its exuberant, unconventional company culture, is "no longer the fiery start-up" but still knows how to have fun, The New York Times reported this weekend. Even with fuel and employment costs rising and its stock languishing, Southwest is still playing the ruthless rebel, driving out competition, and letting its flight attendants have some fun. But will the airline keep its teenage spirit once over the hill? "We still have an underdog mentality," says CEO Gary Kelly. "It's not a comfortable country-club environment for us."
Netflix raises prices, unveils streaming-only plan. The move is part of the company's goal to phase out its DVD rent-by-mail model, analysts tell Reuters, "since the DVD has a limited shelf life at this time and streaming has higher margins." Those who want to cut discs out of their life can pay $7.99 a month for a very limited library of films, though Netflix insists in a blog post that the selection has "grown dramatically." But those who still want to stream and get DVDs will have to open their wallets, because the firm is raising prices on all of its plans, some by as much as $3.
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