When a Product's Too Good
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
A mixed blessing for basketball sneaker start-up. For a sports apparel start-up working to make inroads into the highly competitive world of basketball sneakers, having your shoe banned by the NBA probably isn't part of the initial plan. But that's what happened on Tuesday to Athletic Propulsion Labs when the NBA outlawed its $300 Concept 1 sneaker for creating "an undue competitive advantage," according to the Associated Press. The company, founded by twin brothers who are former USC walk-on basketball players, claims its sneaker technology helps players jump higher (it seems that the world's most popular basketball league concurs). The news promptly blew up across the web, crashing the Los Angeles-based company's website for some time. But soon it reappeared, boasting a giant "Banned By The NBA" stamp splashed across the homepage. So while the start-up won't be inking any endorsement deals with NBA players anytime soon, it scored a pretty awesome amount of free advertising and word-of-mouth marketing that could prove even more valuable. If only the company didn't have a tongue-twisting name that makes it a chore to remember.
Good news for Gulf Coast businesses. The microloan site, Kiva.org, has announced that it has received a $1 million donation from Visa that will help it expand its influence in helping small businesses in the Gulf Coast develop. Fast Company reports that Kiva will also partner with ACCION Texas-Louisiana, a regional microfinance non-profit, to get the money to entrepreneurs in need. In a statement, one Visa executive said, "This partnership advances a shared mission of both Visa and Kiva: helping small businesses grow and ultimately create jobs. For many small business owners, a microloan can have an immediate impact and be a critical catalyst for their long-term success."
Yelp for people. It could be the meanest site on the internet, but the recently relaunched people-rating site, Honestly.com, insists it means no harm, according to VentureBeat. We were first introduced to the start-up as Unvarnished.com, which gained notoriety on the Web after the Today show raised questions about the ethics of rating human beings anonymously. Now, having raised $1.2 million in seed funding, and rebranding itself, Honestly's founder Peter Kazanjy believes the site can actually be used to facilitate the hiring and job-seeking process. Its rules ask that all reviews be relevant to business topics. "With the right to share candid opinions comes the responsibility to do so in a balanced way," the guidelines read. According to Venturebeat, that might not be a problem, as 61 percent of the reviews on Honestly give bosses and co-workers a solid five out of five stars, which Kazanjy says, is 'reflective of the offline world – most people generally have positive opinions of other folks.'
Why your Twitter follower count doesn't matter. While it may be nice to to have a huge mass of Twitter followers, the American Express OPEN Forum argues that follower count is not the best metric to gauge the success of your social media strategy. Rather, the post suggests that who follows you is far more important than how manyfollowers you have. As the article states, "Follower count doesn't say anything about how influential your followers are. Getting the ear of one influential person in your field could be worth hundreds of thousands of followers (or customers)." Sorry Ashton.
Your latest boardroom addition, the CMT. We've given you our list of the most beneficial corporate titles, and now, Mashable's got one more: the chief marketing technologist. It's someone with a technology background who can also leverage that knowledge for marketing objectives. On Tuesday, Scott Brinker, president and CTO of ion interactive, presented his thoughts at the Pivot Conference on how companies can utilize this important new role in their business strategies. He says the marketing technologist should understand the complex languages of both technology and marketing and then "serve as the translator" to merge the worlds together. Ultimately, Brinker explains, the goal is to "infuse technology into the DNA of marketing itself."
Cashing in on Halloween. There's a fresh crop of small farm entrepreneurs, but they're focusing less on the corn and tomatoes and more on hayrides and haunted houses. While other small farmers might open up bed-and-breakfast facilities or petting zoos to diversify their income streams, The Wall Street Journal points to a handful of family farmers who have opened side businesses as part of a phenomenon dubbed "agritourism" or "agri-tainment." And even if you're not a farmer, it's a field ripe for entrepreneurship. Scott Skelly designs corn mazes for farmers, charging between $2,000 and $5,000 per labyrinth.
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