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Archive for the ‘KikScore & KikReport’ Category

KikScore Technology Acquired – Service Will Change on June 28th

Friday, June 1st, 2012

 

Announcement About KikScore’s Future

We are excited to announce that the KikScore technology and certain assets have been acquired.   As of June 28, 2012, the KikScore service will no longer be available to customers.  We recommend that our customers check out the Google Trusted Store product as an alternative to the KikScore service.  In fact, we wrote this post last October that describes how complimentary the KikScore and Google Trusted Store products are for small businesses.  We are very proud of the more than two years that we offered the KikScore service and are so grateful to the 1700+ small business customers that we have served globally.

Back in 2008 this all began at a Fuddruckers in Northern Virginia.  The road from there to today has been filled with great highs, some deep lows, overcoming immense challenges all while dealing with the occasional kicks to the gut that most startups typically experience.   It has been a sincere pleasure for the entire KikScore team to serve so many small businesses and also work to help them be successful through this blog, tweetchats and our December 2011 white paper.  There is still great work to be done for small businesses and that is why we are so excited that an industry leader will be able to build off of the technology, platform and IP that we spent our blood, sweat and tears building, developing and launching.

Now The Very Important Thank Yous

There are so many people that helped us in invaluable ways get to this moment.  That is why it is so important for us to take the time to thank the people that helped us. To the inevitable person that I forget, please forgive me.

  1. Two Intros Help Make the KikScore Sale Possible:  Even before the stories of the introduction, two occurrences had to happen for us to get to today and for the sale of KikScore to become a reality.  First, I went to my good friend’s wedding in beautiful Montana a few years back and secondly, I made the choice to attend Ohio State back in the late 90s for graduate school. Those two seemingly random events led to two separate, but critical introductions by Eric Liaw (who I met at our mutual friend’s Zeno’s wedding while roasting marshmallows at the rehearsal dinner in Montana) and Anuj Goswami (fellow OSU grad and Browns fan!) to the necessary stakeholders to make this deal come together.  Even more importantly is the lesson learned from this: when people call you, return their calls….but maybe wait a bit!  I took a little extra time to call Anuj back (ok 3 weeks!), but on a ride home from the Reston Town Center to DC on a cold Friday afternoon in February I finally returned Anuj’s call that quite randomly turned into the catalyst to bridging Eric’s introduction with an introduction Anuj would make within hours of our call.  That one returned call to Anuj and his initiative set us off to the races to get this deal done!  So a major set of thanks to Eric and Anuj for those crucial introductions at just the right time. 
  2. KikScore’s Team: Frankly, I will never look at Denver the same way because that time zone difference with our headquarters in DC and 10:30pm team calls just about killed me.  Somehow and someway over the years, we mastered the DC and Denver teams working together seamlessly.  To that end, Travis Valentine, our CTO, worked every minute he could to help get us to where we could be in this position where we are at today.  Without his tireless and amazing efforts, dedication and willingness just to get things done, we would never be making this announcement.   We, along with our team, accomplished so many things that we are all proud of here.  Our team was filled out by Mike Collins (product lead and resident Packers fan), Mike Mauseth (one of the original co-founders and Fudruckers guys and one person with a crazier sense of humor than me), Joel Springer (the creative visionary behind the KikScore look and feel), Mike Britti (Mr. 30,000 foot), Kristen Hillier (our scoring model whiz), and Woody Jones.  We also must thank Sergey Kliuev our always available surge capacity developer in the Ukraine who was so great helping us with our partner integrations.  It is awesome to have the technology the team built get recognized and acquired by a global technology leader.
  3. Killer Guidance from Our Key Advisor:  Tom Lewis was nothing short of a savior to the KikScore team and especially me.  As a founding member of the fantastic Founder Corps group, Tom provided continual strategic, product and partner guidance over the last year.  Simply, without Tom’s guidance, support and introductions, there is no way we would have gotten as far as we did and had been in as many strategic discussions as we have been over the last few months.  Every founding team and CEO should wish to have a mentor/advisor as accessible and strategic as Tom.  Also there is another advisor I cannot really name due to certain sensitivities, but he knows who he is, and this is a special thanks to him.  Again Tom was instrumental in making that introduction as well last year!  Tom Lewis what can I say…..just phenomenal.
  4. Community/Evangelist Support:  The overall small business community has been tremendously supportive of KikScore and our mission over the last two years.  We had some fantastic folks that tirelessly helped us and so we want to recognize and thank each of them. They are: Anita Campbell (for all the mega shoutouts and support); Ramon Ray (thanks for the infectious energy and coverage of our growth); Ivana Taylor (for all the help and chats); Tai Goodwin (for inviting us to guest host the prestigious #SmallBizChat); John “ColderIce” Lawson (the amazing support and you always making us laugh); Tinu Abayomi-Paul (your unending good wishes) Jill Foster (the Dupont Circle/neighborly love); Laurie McCabe (for the SmallBizInfluencer nominations and interview); Shonali Burke (our early PR guru) and Howard Lewinter (for your guidance and stories).  Sadly, somehow three of these folks are also Steelers fans.  It is a tribute to them that they still talk to me since I am a Browns fan…….
  5. Friends’ Direct Support, Help & Guidance: The space here and the time cannot do enough justice to the friends who supported us, made key introductions, helped with creating amazing pitch decks, gave us strategic guidance and also just provided huge amounts of moral support along the way. They included:  Shashi Bellamkonda (our #1 evangalist and my close confidant on our daily rides home); Jason Knaut (the best strategic/ex-investment banker/ex-corp dev guy any entrepreneur would want on their side); Harry Lalor (for listening to all my stories and the fantastic support); Ntoh Etta (for keeping us focused and helping with diligence); Eric Akunda (giving strategic guidance and helping keep things in perspective); Roy Dunbar (for being so generous and opening up his huge network to us with multiple introductions); Jake Lebowitz (for helping support me get the sale closed); Atul Rustgi (great strategic guidance as the clock wound down – though I am still surprised that a UMichigan guy would help out a Buckeye!); Elvis Oxley (for always thinking about connecting KikScore to every new person you met); Bobby Turnage (see this post on leadership on how he helped); and Miles Reidy and Dick LeFave (for each of them ironically on the same day in 2011 telling me to just go “all in” with my entrepreneurial drive and pushing me to succeed).  I cant thank each of you enough for the incredible help and inspiration you each provided.
  6. Wise Counsel:  At KikScore we were lucky to have great lawyers help us on this deal.  Mike Hardy from Rosenberg, Martin & Greenberg, LLC in Baltimore, who I pulled too many all-nighters working with at White & Case, served as our lead corporate counsel and gave us great legal and non-legal guidance throughout the process of documenting and finalizing the sale of the KikScore technology.  Also Rick Holzer and Chirag Patel from HolzerIPLaw in Denver have been great over the years serving as our IP and patent counsel through the long patent process for the KikScore technology.
  7. KikScore Customers: Without our customers we would have been nothing.  We are so thankful for all the small business customers that gave us a chance, used our product, told their friends and evangelized KikScore.  It was great to get to know so many of our customers as well through our interview series on this blog.  Thanks to our customers for making this all possible.  And I would be remiss not to send out a very special thank you to Paybaq’s Brian Esposito for being such a fantastic customer advocate for KikScore after nearly leaving us!  We are so glad we won you back.
  8. Lastly & Most Importantly the KikScore Families: There is just not enough that any of the team can say about our spouses, kids, parents and siblings for being there and supporting each of us along the way.  No one really can quantify the level of patience and understanding that each or our families had to go through when you have a startup with 10:30pm team calls, late night customer escalations and weekend after weekend of saying I just need to spend time getting things done.  So for each and every family member we THANK YOU! Now specifically for Rebecca, my wife, I cant thank her enough for her unending patience for the entire KikScore experience and the major impact it had on our lives……though the great thing now is that the 24/7 defacto Customer Service Level Agreement I have had to abide by since she was a KikScore customer now expires on June 28th!  Seriously, thank you Rebecca so much for the amazing support, help, guidance and trying to help me balance some crazy form of work-startup-family balance especially today as you are now 8+ months expecting!  I could not have done this without your support.  I am sure that many of the same tremendous thanks could be said for Travis and his wife Sarah and the rest of the team and each of their respective spouses.  Thanks so much to each and every one of them.

On a personal note I look forward to moving on to my next gig….and oh yes it will be another startup launching this summer.  I am really excited for it. Finally, I am thankful for trusting my gut instinct.  Countless times so many of the people that I have thanked above either validated my gut thinking or told me I was way crazy so I luckily modified course a bit.  The one thing that no one could convince me to do was giving up on our goal of getting KikScore this far.  My gut always told me to push on in this journey to get to the end we all wanted to get to.  I am therefore incredibly thankful that I both trusted that instinct while also having the team, advisors, friends, the community, evangelists, customers, counsel and especially the family to get KikScore to today’s announcement.

 

 

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Small Business Tips & Guidance from Moooh’s Carlo Trotta – Selling from China, Serving the World

Monday, April 30th, 2012

I had the opportunity to interview Carlo Trotta from Moooh!! and he had a lot of interesting things to say in the interview below.

1. Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

Moooh!! is the first social luxury commerce website. We design, handcraft and sell custom made jewelry, apparels, shoes, fashion accessories, ethnic home decor, gifts idea. At moment we sell only jewelry and few accessories, but in the next months we will add many other products. Almost all the products sold on Moooh!! are proudly Made in China. I don’t understand why many luxury brands producing in China, often don’t disclose to their customers the origin place of their products. Moooh!! serve a wide target of customers, people who loves beautiful things, made with good material, good quality manufacturing , elegant, fashionable, unique. Everything sold at very competitive price.

2. How did you get started selling online?

I started to sell on Ebay. Being power seller on different accounts and then I left because of the increasing Ebay commission fees, harassment policy for the sellers and low seller protection given by Paypal.

3. What inspires you to grow your business?

Give to people the possibility to access to beautiful and fashionable quality items at very competitive prices. I want to create a community of shoppers and small businesses through Reward Programs, Promotions, Sweepstakes, Affiliate Programs and other strategic initiatives that we will take during the year.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

Total dedication to the customers.  You must create and offer what the customer is looking for, customize and personalize for your customers, then reward them for their purchases. Finally, invest your time more than money.

5. Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

I will invest in inbound and online marketing. Also I will be really focusing on spread my social media presence so I can create a community of shoppers and small businesses around Moooh!!

6. What do you see as 2 new trends for small businesses and in your business?

I can “predict” a much deeper use of social media and blogging.  It is almost a must these days!  I’m also quite sure also that many small businesses will start to consider developing some type of mobile applications for their business.  Mobile is really taking off and small businesses need to focus on what is their mobile strategy!

7. If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

Rocky. Starting from less than zero, exercise, learn, fight, fall down and stand up until the victory. I hope I can make my own movie.

8. If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Actually no one, but myself, my customers, my affiliates and small businesses than are around Moooh!! That’s very social and also my dream spokepersons!

9. What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

Raising money to develop and grow the business. I cannot see any other challenge considering that I live in China and there’s no better place than here to have a business and catch the huge opportunities that this wonderful country offers.  That being said raising capital and having enough capital is the biggest challenge.  That capital will make or break making small businesses in China that are serving the world market like me.

10. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

Concentrate your effort on your customers, make the product they need, make them love the product they buy and then they will purchase more from you and spread the word. Also relentlessly focus on reduce expenses, cut the unnecessary costs so you can invest your time and dedication to your business. But don’t forget also to dedicate time to your family and friends:) That will keep you truly happy.

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Small Business Interview with Troy Fimrite from the Atlin Institute

Friday, April 20th, 2012
Atlin

I had the opportunity to interview Troy Fimrite from the Atlin Institute and he had a lot of interesting things to say in the interview below.

Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

You know how people buying a business for the first time are making a big life decision, need to buy the right one and not lose their money? Well, we help them with a money saving resource www.buyertoolkit.com that answers a lot of questions and makes it easy for them to buy a business for the first time.

How did you get started selling online?

I have been involved in buying and selling companies for 20 years and constantly answer emails, phone calls and interviews by people looking for a answers as they look to buy a business for the first time. I decided to utilize the internet and create a downloadable product to make it easy for people around the world to quickly understand the way to buy a business. The whole idea is to make it easy to understand, simple to follow and make it as easy as 1-2-3!

What inspires you to grow your business?

I am an Entrepreneur and absolutely love growing business! I have been very fortunate to be mentored by many incredibly successful business people and now also mentor people new to business through Universities, Accelerator programs and Entrepreneurship programs. I am inspired every time someone takes a step towards business ownership and truly love helping them along the way!

If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

A/B test everything. And you do not know what will work until you try it!

Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

I have several businesses that are in different stages so I spend time working with each one to ensure they are efficient, growing and profitable. My time with the Buyer Tool Kit is to constantly improve the content and make sure customers understand the simple steps to buy a business!

What do you see as 2 new trends for small businesses and in your business?

The access to the Internet and advanced technology is opening up new markets for business owners without large investments and the second is the movement of people wanting their own business as additional income.

If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

James Bond. He is always one step ahead, has timeless knowledge, uses excellent tips and tricks and always achieves a happy ending!

If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Richard Branson, Incredible businessman who has started and bought hundreds of businesses!

What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

To create an online presence that earns the trust of people looking to buy a business and provide a product that can truly save them thousands of dollars. We are focused on gathering user feedback, adding up the dollars we have saved for people and using great trust indicators that actually add value like KikScore!

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

I will share this simple quote that was passed on to me by a really successful business mentor: ” Troy, you make money when you buy.”

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News Roundup: Inc. Magazine & SmallBiz Technology Talking About KikScore

Monday, April 9th, 2012

We just wanted to send a special shout out to our friends at one of the best magazines around, Inc Magazine (see our previous post on our love for Inc. Magazine), and Ramon Ray's SmallBiz Technology Blog.  Over the last few weeks, both of these great websites not only mentioned KikScore but used us as important data points for both How to Build a Website that Inspires Trust and also Managing Your Online Reputation and Taking Steps to Protect it.

The Inc. Magazine post discusses the important concept of making sure your business website conveys trust and credibility.  If you remember, we actually were the guest host for #SmallBizChat on that very topic last year so feel free to check out our presentation and tips that was rated one of the top 10 tweetchats of all of 2011. Thanks to Jon Gelberg for mentioning us in the article.  We really appreciate it.

The SmallBiz Technology article discusses the increasingly important issue of how do businesses manage their reputation in a comprehensive way from what is said on third party sites and then taking the best reputational information and making sure that makes it onto the small business' website.  Just like so many of the great articles on Ramon Ray's blog, the article discusses how there is a real need for a 360 degree solution for small businesses so they can collect and use reputational information from across the internet (Yelp, Google feedback, Facebook posts, Tweets etc) to get more business from their websites.  We are really honored to be mentioned as a product that helps deliver part of that 360 degree reputation management solution to small businesses.

Thanks to both of these great websites for covering and discussing KikScore.

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Small Business Interview with Ruben Guerin from Cookbook Village

Friday, March 16th, 2012
I had the opportunity to interview Ruben Guerin from Cookbook Village and he had some very interesting insights into the current state of e-commerce and small businesses.  Ruben also had some great recommendations for small businesses just getting started selling online in the interview below.

Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

Cookbook Village has been around several years, but as a popular eBay store. The new store, which opened in January 2012, caters to collectors and cookbook enthusiasts and offers collectible, vintage and used cookbooks.

How did you get started selling online?

My wife had been a collector for years and asked me at one point to sell her collection on eBay. She was fascinated by e-commerce and wanted to us to try it out. There is an audience for collectible cookbooks and we knew it as soon as her original collection was nearly depleted. To keep the store going and our own collecting habit fed, we began scouting cookbooks all over the region. Finally last year, we decided to plan to open our own e-commerce store in 2012. It was six months in the making as we wanted it to be our dream site. We opened in early December and are now entering month four.

What inspires you to grow your business?

I was a 20-year employee of Shell Petroleum when I lived in The Netherlands. I gave up a stable career there to move to the United States with my wife–she had wanted to return home after living there for over 10 years. My world changed quite a bit and I have had to try to re-establish myself. Cookbook Village is my chance at again having a thriving career, this time running my own business. People have said a printed book is becoming a thing of the past. I believe that cookbooks are something you need to touch and feel and I am out to prove they will be around for a long time into the future. Growth is key in any business.

If you had two lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

1) Selling online is a business like any other. You have to put a lot of time and effort into making it successful. It is not as easy as putting up a cart page and hitting publish. There are many facets to selling online and I think many new store owners expect it to be easy with a “build it and they shall come” mentality. That is a mistake.

2) Ensure that you plan ways to engage your audience. Cookbook Village has a strong focus on audience engagement and customer service. We are constantly thinking of new ways to reach out and provide our site’s users and customers with content and products that meet their needs. Social media and search engines are both kings in the world of e-commerce. Neither should be taken lightly and both should be a focus when you are building your online store or business. I see many online businesses today that practice one-way communication. This is why the KikScore seal is so important to us. It is a means for customers to provide feedback in a trusted, third-party app.

Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

Since we have only recently launched the new cookbookvillage.com store we have been focused heavily on tuning our store to offer a better customer experience. Also, we are heavily focused on building store traffic and brand awareness. Through social channels, blogging and SEO, we are starting to gain momentum. We didn’t expect a single sale for the first several months. We were being conservative. We are prohibited from reaching out to our eBay base, so essentially we’ve had to start over. We made a sale in the couple days after hitting “public” in our cart application. What a surprise, but it’s set the bar a bit higher as well.

What do you see as two new trends in small business and in your business?

Pinterest and similar visual sharing platforms are hot right now, especially for e-commerce. The fastest online sale we’ve ever seen came just seconds after hitting “Pin” on one of our books. We are seeing similar platforms come out so we are tracking them closely to see if there are opportunities.

Integrations in technology have really helped streamline small businesses like ours. Our shopping cart platform, Shopify, integrates with a lot of wonderful apps. KikScore, email apps, order status apps and more make the store easier to manage. The fact that companies are working together to provide more integration and features for end-users is a blessing. We wouldn’t have been able to do half of what we’ve accomplished without a platform like Shopify and all of it’s partner applications.

If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Cookbooks make people happy. We like making the connection between cookbook and cook, often bringing customers a cookbook that has a deep connection with a childhood or memorable event. Over the years, we have received many letters from people we’ve touched. Some of those letters describe the memories the customer has had come to life from a book from their past and being able to find it again. I can’t think of many retail items that have the power to bring someone to tears. We are a business like any other and need to profit to carry on and survive, but we like the fact that we make people happy. It’s a win-win situation for both Cookbook Village and our customers.

If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Russ Parsons, food editor at LA Times did an article on our store. He had stumbled upon our site a week after launch. He has a huge following and a lot of influence in our market. We followed him on the Daily Dish blog but weren’t truly aware of his love of cookbook collecting until we saw the article about Cookbook Village. What a spokesperson he would be! He understands the culinary world and the audience–and is himself a collector. Having someone like that discuss our business is powerful because he understands both the industry and the market. The day that article came out was a day we will forever remember. We were so surprised to see it. It was the perfect article and we wouldn’t have changed a word. If we could pick a second it might have to be one of the Top Chef hosts. We love that show and all its hosts.

What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

The biggest challenge we face tends to be too many ideas, too little time to execute them. Since we are still small and starting out, we need to do it on our own. Our store model patterns the brick-and-mortar boutique store experience–customer service focused with a richer focus on cookbook details versus the one line descriptions you often see on online book sites. That means complete cookbook details and vivid photos of the items (no stock photos of our books). That takes a lot of time. Also all the marketing and customer outreach can be draining. So when do we work on all these updates, promotions and new ideas? We overcome the obstacle by logging each idea and making a fixed time each week to execute at least one of them.

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

A strong focus on providing good customer service is as important to online businesses as traditional businesses. With the current social climate online, customers have the power to help promote your business alongside you. Don’t take for granted. Some people may love a quick get-in, get-out experience but others prefer a connection and a sense of community. Online retailers should strive to bring customers the best of both worlds.

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Thanks Fox Business For Covering KikScore As Their Featured Business of the Day

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

We were really excited that our friends on Twitter nominated us to Fox Business Channel to be featured as their Business of the Day last week.  Special thanks to Kate Rogers the fantastic Fox Business Network Online, Small Business reporter that interviewed and then featured KikScore.  Here is her article: Grading Small Businesses to Close Sales.  Fox Small Business is doing a great job profiling small businesses.  Just follow the hashtag #mysbc on Twitter to see other great businesses that they are profiling and nominate your favorite ones.  We nominated a bunch last week!

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Leave No Business Behind: Pearls of Wisdom for Every Startup & SmallBiz

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

A few years ago we were just a couple of entrepreneurs with an idea that we felt could solve a pressing issue for small businesses.  No one really knew us and in many ways no one should have known us then since we were just starting out. Thus we had little to no street credibility.

There is a funny thing that happens as time passes (besides me longing for those care-free college days where the toughest decision was Burger King, KFC or pizza for dinner tonight?).  As the clock ticks away you gain valuable experience and insight about life, growing a startup business, the team and people around you, the market, trends, dealing with your customers and partners and for us building a product that enables small businesses to show that they are trustworthy and credible.  The experience translates into knowledge.  Therefore we continually make it a priority for our team to share with the small business community the knowledge we have gained through ups and down, good times and challenges and those inevitable growing pains all businesses must endure.  It is our way of helping the startups, small businesses and the greater community. That is frankly one of the reasons we interview our own customers so they can provide their knowledge to all of us.

So we just wanted to take the time to highlight some of our knowledge sharing we have recently done. This has been through blogs posts on some really great small business focused sites.  We, at KikScore, were very excited to be invited to provide guest posts at two fabulous and prestigious SMB focused blogs.  First is Ivana Taylor’s awesome DIY Marketers Blog.  Ivana is such a force and inspiration for small businesses (though I have to ignore she is a Steelers fan! See earlier post on my feeling toward “those fans.”).  We were truly honored to be invited to contribute to her fast growing blog. Ivana by the way has some great things launching for 2012 so please be on the look out for them.  The second is the majorly popular and growing .CO Blog called Go.CO.  Again being specifically recruited and asked to contribute to this fantastic blog has been an honor.  So we keep working hard to contribute KikScore’s thought leadership on small businesses, operating a startup, setting, creating and managing strategy and also steps to effectively market your business.

Here are links to some of the posts if you would like to check them out:

1. Are you looking for ways to use videos in your startup or small business, if so check out  5 Types of Marketing Videos Every Small Business Should Use.

2. We each face the challenge of how do we build a brand with all of the “noise” out there, here are 4 Steps to Developing a Small Business Brand.

3. Wondering how to show website visitors you are trustworthy and credible check out The Online Trust Issue – Tips to Find the Right Trust Seal for Your Small Business.

4. As we get rolling into 2012, take a step back and review these 5 Steps to Make 2012 Your Best Year for Your Business By Learning From 2011.

5. If you are looking for a path to acquiring and maintaining loyal customers here are 6 Ways to Make Better Connections with Your Customers By Paying More Attention.

6. We are living in a LinkedIn world now so make sure you are taking advantage of every opportunity to use your connections with these  Steps to Use Your Professional Network to Grow Your Business.

7. A lot of small businesses and startups just want to stick their heads in the weeds and get things done, but every business needs to take a look at these Business Strategy Tips for Small Business Owners.

8. As we all look inward at our own startups and small businesses and how we manage our teams, we can use these 5 Skills & Traits Every Entrepreneur Should Nurture for Success.

9. With everything that is on our plates for our respective businesses here are some important Steps on How to Cut Distractions & Focus More On Achieving Your Business Goals.

Well we have had quite an active few months blogging on these great small business sites.  Many thanks to each of the sites for having us and we look forward to providing more guidance on a range of items in the future.

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Some Recent Highlights of KikScore Making News

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

We just wanted to highlight a bit of the coverage we have received recently and send out a special thank you to those great folks that took the time to cover KikScore.  As you all know we are a bootstrapped startup so we do not have any real budget for PR so all of our PR efforts are self-generated and the coverage has been really organic.  In all honestly it has been pretty cool to see our efforts get recognized by some of the most respected sites in our industry.  Now that I think of it,  I will follow up with a blog post in the near future on how startups and small businesses can generate their own PR and increase their chances of being covered.  I think there are some nice lessons learned and some tips from our own experience and I will be happy to pass that along to the community.

Here is some of the coverage:

1. How to Give Online Shoppers Confidence in Your Website at SmallBiz Trends.   Special thanks to the always awesome and fabulous Anita Campbell for this fantastic piece that covered us.

2. Trust is Critical When You Date, Bungee Jump and Sell Online on Business Insider.  We have to give a special thanks to the man who has endless energy, passion and drive for all things small business, Ramon Ray for this write up.

3. KikScore Named Best of 2011 SmallBizChat Interviews by the SmallBiz Lady.  Melinda Emerson who moderates that super informative #SmallBizChat every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm named KikScore as one of the top 10 chats of all of 2011 and put us in the same company as Anita, Guy Kawasaki, Tai Goodwin and Pierre Dubois who also made this prestigious list.

4. KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds Information Sharing Leads to More Trust at the fast growing startup blog TechCocktail.  We have to send a special shout out to Frank Gruber, Jen Consolvo and Shashi B at DC-based TechCocktail for this great write up.

5. Launch Story: From Business Affairs & Legal Executive to Ecommerce CEO at one of our favorite sites Launch While Working.  Thanks to the amazing Tai Goodwin for this write up and for all the support she has given KikScore.  Please make sure you look out for her book that every person who works in Corporate America should buy and then read – The Employedpreneur Plan: How to Launch Your Business Without Quitting Your Day Job.

We hope to keep up this pace of having KikScore in the news, but for this go around we send out our incredible gratitude and thanks to the great bloggers and websites that covered KikScore over the last few weeks.

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Archive for the ‘KikScore & KikReport’ Category

Small Business Interview with Hostile Bacon

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

I had the opportunity to interview Miss Ren & Pete who operate an up and coming Shopify store named Hostile Bacon this week.  They had some very interesting lessons learned from their experience starting their business and how they have evolved their use of social media to help market their business over time.  Please check out the interview below and let us know your thoughts in the comments as well.

Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

Hostile Bacon is an online store that provides a variety of products that are unique or quirky in nature. These are lifestyle and fashion items that you typically wouldn’t find at the local shops, some items are handmade by local designers, others are sourced from overseas and closer to home. We also provide random yet interesting information through Ren St blog and our social media channels.

Our focus is to serve anyone who likes things that are a little bit different, a shopper who is looking for a gift for themselves or someone else. If you’re nostalgic, whimsical, fashionable, health conscious, practical or all of the mentioned, Hostile Bacon is for you.

How did you get started selling online?

www.hostilebacon.com.au came about by necessity. I’ve been designing and making things since I first stepped foot in a home economics class room many years ago. At the start I was making things for myself and then friends and family started putting in orders and then eventually friends of friends were buying my designs, by this stage online was the best medium to have as a shop front and I also started sourcing products to provide a larger variety.

What inspires you to grow your business?

I really enjoy sourcing new products, coming up with new ideas, researching and writing my blog and seeing what so many talented designers are producing. I’m also inspired by the fact that we provide a good shopping experience for our customers. Shopping should be an activity that is pleasurable and easy.

If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

Lesson number 1 would be to invest in a reputable, secure hosting company, to keep your site operating securely.

Lesson number 2 is to remember that little things make a big difference. Wrapping an item, replying to a post or comment, these things and more, create a good experience for shoppers and potential customers.

Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

This year we’ve focused on sourcing new and interesting products and optimizing the website to attract and maintain customers. We want to be found easily and for our customers to come back repeatedly and to do this we have to offer something new regularly and provide a reason to come back to the site.

What do you see as 2 new trends in for small business and in your business?

I believe more small businesses will use social media to engage rather than push products. We’ve built social media into our marketing plan as a majority of our target market are social media savvy.

A user friendly website that is clean and easy to navigate is becoming more favoured, long gone are the days of clunky websites with neon flashing banners and an encyclopedias worth of information. We regularly make changes to the site to ensure those that do visit have a good experience and stay longer.

If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

I would choose the character Holly Golightly played by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s as she is synonymous with style, glamour and eccentricity.

If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Fonzie would the our dream spokesperson, he was cool in 1974 and 38 years later he is still cool.

What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

A big challenge is competing with large companies with even larger marketing budgets.  To overcome this we will continue with traditional marketing activity and provide our customers with a great experience so they ‘market’ us to friends and family.

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

You are the expert in what you do so rely on experts to perform tasks in other areas to help you with your business, things that may not be your strengths. It’s very easy to become bombarded with tasks in running a business and sometime it would be a much more effective use or your time and resources to utilise someone else’s skill set and lastly, enjoy what you do. I’m always smiling when I talk about Hostile Bacon because I enjoy it so much.

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Archive for the ‘KikScore & KikReport’ Category

Shoppers Trust Businesses Who Share More Information – KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

We are excited to announce our first KikScore Online Trust Survey.  Since we are a business that serves the small business community we wanted to learn first hand what shoppers and website visitors are saying about their browsing experience, especially how it relates to small business websites. The KikScore Online Trust Survey provides an overview for small businesses, shoppers and the greater community about trust and reliability trends. It especially focuses on how consumers approach the trust and credibility issue as they perform local searches for small businesses in various search engines.

The Context and Background for the KikScore Online Trust Survey

Really since the inception of the internet, small businesses have faced the constant challenge of proving that they are trustworthy and reliable online businesses and website visitors should trust them.  Lacking the large marketing budgets and brand names, small businesses face the battle of demonstrating to website visitors that they are legitimate and trustworthy businesses.  This online trust challenge has resulted in billions of dollars in losses for small businesses.

Recently, to add to this challenge that small businesses face is the rise of local search.  As more consumers perform local searches on Google and Bing, search results are returning more and more small local businesses.  Website visitors have the increasing opportunity to visit small business websites of plumbers, realtors, contractors, lawyers and local stores such as dry cleaners and transact on many online small business websites.

We set out to study what are the trends for shoppers as well as small businesses for demonstrating trust through both local search and online shopping.

The KikScore Online Trust Survey & Report Findings

Here are some of the key findings from our report:

  1. The fear of being defrauded or a victim of an online scam has led more than 90% of consumers that shop online not to complete a transaction;
  2. 87% of website visitors feel safer buying from websites that feature information about the business and the track record of the business;
  3. 85% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to hire a small business service provider that has a trust seal on their website;
  4. Over 60% of website visitors are more likely to buy from a website that posts information and details about the management of an online business; and
  5. More than 90% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to trust a service business that posts information on their website about their business history and track record.


Key Implication from the Online Trust Survey for Small Businesses – More Information Means More Sales

The main takeaway from the Survey is that website visitors want to know who is “behind the online business” and information about the business itself.  Further, the data indicates that one way to combat the online trust challenge for small businesses is to address the information asymmetry that exists between website visitors and small businesses.  The recurring theme through the data from the report is that local searchers and shoppers want transparency through reputational information when they reach a small business website. This finding tends to makes sense from a layperson’s psychological approach to approaching something unknown.  From a human relations perspective, once a person finds out more information about a previously unknown subject/person, that person then can make a much better assessment about the credibility and trustworthiness of that subject/person.  The same approach generally holds true for a website visitor to an unfamiliar online business.

From this key finding, the KikScore Report provided these following recommendations for small business to act on to start addressing the information asymmetry:

  1. Start providing key information about your small business on your website;
  2. Important information to provide can include, details about the management team, financial history, location information, website history and security information, customer service and privacy policies, certification and awards and introductory videos;
  3. Display real customer feedback and testimonials about a shopping experience or your customer’s experience hiring your small business to provide a service; and
  4. Using and displaying a trust seal(s) that help you show website visitors that your business has been validated and provides information about the reputation of your small business.

The important point for small businesses from this report is to use these four steps outlined immediately above as a way to use information about your own business, your management team, your own track record and make that transparent to website visitors.  These steps will help small businesses address the online trust challenge and directly help balance the information asymmetry between website visitors and small online businesses.

Case Study: PaybaQ Proves the Importance of Displaying Reputational Information

As a part of the Report, KikScore included a case study from a small business that had already implemented the recommendations above to provide an illustration of how one small business owner successfully tackled the online trust challenge.  The case study is of Brian J. Esposito the CEO and founder of PaybaQ.

Shortly after launching PaybaQ, a peer-to-peer lending site, Mr. Esposito faced low signups, abandoned shopping carts and abandoned registrations.  Mr. Esposito, being a prior Inc5000 listed business owner, sought to use his own reputation as a way to show website visitors his website was trustworthy and reliable.  After Mr. Esposito signed up for KikScore and started using the KikScore Confidence Badge to provide more information about his track record as a business owner and also offer a way to provide feedback, PaybaQ experienced a 20% increase in conversions.

As seen from the increase in PaybaQ’s conversions after using the KikScore Confidence Badge to display reputational information about the business owner, management team, website and policies, information transparency is the fundamental method for small businesses to demonstrate trustworthiness and achieve success online.  Mr. Esposito noted: “Immediate access to information and transparency into any company is crucial, especially startup small businesses.  Implementing a seamless solutions on PaybaQ.com gives my potential users exactly what they need, a quick snapshot of my company, team members, and even myself.  This tool helps show browsers who find our site through Google and Bing that they are on a safe credible site that they can trust.”

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