Behind the scenes of the Old Spice viral videos. If you haven't seen Old Spice's incredibly successful (and hilarious) attempt to translate its TV campaign into an Internet phenomenon, expect a forward from your co-worker, cousin, or junior high prom date any minute now. Advertising firm Wieden + Kennedy took Isaiah Mustafa, the manly, shirtless baritone from the absurdist Old Spice TV ads and had him respond to queries on Twitter with personalized, funny 30-second spots. When you watch them, the first question that comes to mind is how exactly they're churning them out so fast--and what kind of Internet genius is writing the copy. Along with a bunch of regular Twitter users, Kevin Rose, Guy Kawasaki, Demi Moore, and Alyssa Milano already got their own video personalized spots in real time. Fast Company's Mark Borden spoke with Wieden's global interactive creative director Iaian Tait about why they're using YouTube and what it's like to produce almost 100 spots a day. Says Tait, "What we've done here is blur the lines between things that people don't expect to be able to be done in real time. So that's the surprise . . . 'How on earth are you doing that?'"
A lost decade for entrepreneurs. That's what's upon us, says blogger, professor, and serial entrepreneur Steve Blank. "If you take funding from a venture capital firm or angel investor," Blank writes, "and want to build a large, enduring company (rather than sell it to the highest bidder), this isn't the decade to do it."
The disabled entrepreneur's dilemma. In a tough job market, the disabled are hit hardest. The Labor Department reported a 14.3 percent unemployment rate among disabled adults, compared to 9.4 percent for the rest of the country this June. Now that so many are out of a job, the Wall Street Journal says many disabled people are turning to entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur boot camp for disabled veterans based out of Syracuse University has seen a huge spike in enrollment since the program began three years ago. At the same time, though, the Disabled Businesspersons Association has received three times as many requests for assistance per year than it did before the recession hit. And as more disabled adults seek out funding, there's less to go around. According to the association's president, even the disabled business owners who have landed grants, "have yet to show any significant increase in profit or individual incomes." Advice from our 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year Alison Schuback wouldn't be a bad place to start.
Where are all the women in tech? It's no secret that men far outnumber women in Silicon Valley, but Mercury News columnist Scott Harris offers his perspective on the issue with the story of meeting Jessica Mah, the 20-year-old co-founder of inDinero. Although her start-up is attracting a lot of attention, Harris was still skeptical of Mah when he first met her at a start-up boot camp. "If this had been a geek named Jesse, not Jessica, maybe I'd be wondering if this kid might be the next Zuckerberg, instead of wondering whether to take him seriously," he writes. Mah is part of the Y Combinator start-up boot camp, which since beginning in 2005, has accepted 450 people, only 14 of which are women. "While dozens of valley startups have been launched by women--Judy Estrin, Kim Polese and Caterina Fake come to mind--hundreds have been launched by men. Maybe the paucity of female tech entrepreneurs has something to do with what has been called the soft bigotry of low expectations," Harris suggests.
How to expand your brand into an emerging market. Tupperware could very well be a case study in how to successfully export a product across cultural boundaries (via Business Week). The company, which grew rapidly thanks to parties thrown by suburban housewives in the U.S., has been branching out into India and is nearing its goal of having 100,000 women there selling products such as the "roti keeper" and the "masala box." Finding unmet demand and catering to local needs in particular are a good start but for more tips, check out our guides on building an international brand, as well as 10 steps to starting a business in China.
Washington Post gets iCurrent. Testing the news-aggregation waters, The Washington Post Co. is acquiring iCurrrent, an online tool that helps users collect automated streams of news tailored to their interests. VentureBeat reports that the deal was likely in the $5 million range. The Post is the latest of several large media companies acquiring small news and social media sites in recent years, including Forbes's acqisition of Clipmarks, an online bookmarking service, and Hearst acquiring Kaboodle, a social bookmarking site.
Last updated: Jul 15, 2010
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey