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Posts Tagged ‘kikscore.com’

Shocking Results in Recent OTA Findings: Should YOU Feel Safe on the Internet?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As cybercriminals become more advanced and efficient, all businesses must recognize and prepare for the imminent threats of online hackers. The issue of cyber-attacks has made its way to the Senate, debating the amount of power the president should have in dealing with cybercrimes (Full story here).

Similarly, in accordance with the looming threat of online fraud and cybercrime, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) released their annual Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard two weeks ago, revealing the many insecurities of the internet. Their findings were very surprising, making me question my privacy and safety on the internet. Two of the most shocking discoveries include:

  • Only 26% of the top websites and government agencies evaluated by the OTA were recognized for their adoption of the best, most efficient technologies to help protect users’ privacy and identity. This means that 74% of the top websites used by millions of people have not implemented safe measures that protect against malicious emails and rogue websites. Organizations that made the Honor Roll enacted email authentication processes, Extended Validation SSL Certificates, and testing for malware and known site vulnerabilities. More than 500 million emails originated from the organizations lacking efficient online security measures. These facts demonstrate that we are not protected on the majority of sites we visit and are members of, and therefore we must consider reevaluating websites before giving them any of our personal information.
  • Social media, e-commerce, and financial services ranked higher in securing their sites than government agencies.  About 27% of the FDIC 100 and 24% of the Fortune 500 qualified for the Honor Roll, though only 12% of government agencies made the list. It doesn’t make me feel particularly safe that government agencies’ websites are some of the most vulnerable to cybercrime attacks. The government and its various agencies should be the ones protecting us, enacting the proper online security protocols and trying to set an example, not being most susceptible to malware.

This report is extremely important for both e-commerce shoppers and small businesses. Online shoppers must realize the dangers of registering on sites that may be unsafe and prone to cyber-attacks and abuse. Therefore, they will seek out websites that have the proper preventative online security measures, and will most likely buy from the large, reputable online websites. This will in turn hurt small businesses that lack a reputation in online safety, and are trying to flourish in e-commerce.  This makes it even more important that for small businesses to succeed that they clearly demonstrate to the public their record of trustworthiness and reliability so potential customers are ensured that the small business they’re dealing with can be trusted.

The OTA’s full 2011 Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard can be found here: https://otalliance.org/news/releases/2011scorecard.html.

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Posts Tagged ‘kikscore.com’

What Makes a Good Partnership for Your Business

Friday, October 1st, 2010

No matter what type of product or service your business provides, the question of partnerships will come up.  There are several types of structures a partnership can take,  but it usually breaks down into two real forms: Complementary and Marketing.  Complementary relationships focus on offering a service to an existing platform (and group of potential customers for your business).  Marketing relationships is really just an offshoot of that, but the focus is less on filling a need than attracting the attention of an audience. 

Which is right for your business really depends on your product and the potential audience.  For example, we here at KikScore just announced an integration with Shopster.  To us, it really is an ideal arrangement.  First off, it broadens the awareness of our product and has been generating a lot  of new customers.  But it also filled a need for Shopster — providing a cutting edge trust/security service for its platform customers.  In other words, we’re providing a service that is needed to a customer base that we both want to reach. 

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?  But it’s not.  You need to find the right partner.  Our integration and relationship with Shopster would never be successful if we didn’t share the same view about customer service and quality. It’s hard enough to build concencus with your own team, but unless you communicate well with your partner, and are on the same page, things can get really difficult.

We’re feeling pretty good about our newest partnership, and we’re excited about the buzz it’s creating, but it only reinforces all the preparation and deliberation we took in working with Shopster.  So here’s to partnerships and finding the right one.  We feel we did.

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Business Roadblocks — Is Growth Our Own Worst Enemy?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

One of the reasons I enjoy being part of the KikScore is the fact that it is our own business.  Sure we have meetings and on big decisions we need to get a majority vote, but generally I can do whatever is in the best interest of the company. 

The flip is true for my day job.  No decision can simply be made.  I must first draft a compelling email, then create an attractive power-point presentation, and finally convince our legal/compliance department that I’m not the anti-christ (which is harder than you may think).  I would say that despite having a full-time job dedicated to creating new opportunities,  I spend less than 50% of time actually doing it.  The rest is overcoming internal process.

So is that what is really meant when we say that small businesses are “nimble”?  Is it that they don’t have internal machinations dedicated solely to preventing risk or is it because entrepreneurs are able to make quick decisions (and why they are their own bosses in the first place)? 

A better question is: can you ever avoid creating your own business roadblocks?  Every small company that is successful eventually becomes a larger one.  At that point, the larger company has a business to actually protect and risk takes on new meaning.  Certainly a small business doesn’t fret about risk as much, because they are “judgment proof” — meaning that if they are ever sued, the business simply packs it up and the owners move onto something else.  With a larger business, it can actually pay a judgment and risk means something (at least to the shareholders).  Perfect example is my day job.  10 years ago, it was a start-up with 3 employees.  Decisions were fast and the business grew faster.  Now we are part of a larger organization and our growth is a fraction of what it used to be.  On the other hand, we’re very profitable now (and were not in the beginning).  So risk means something to us.

What do you think…is there a way to avoid this?

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Posts Tagged ‘kikscore.com’

Diary of a Startup: Staying in Touch

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

KikScore is made up of 7 team members.  We are on 2 different time zones.  Several of our members travel regularly for their day jobs.  One of us has a consulting business that requires odd-hour projects.  All of this adds up to difficulty in scheduling time to talk. 

And by “talk” I mean talking about the direction of the business as a whole.  Because we have side calls with partners, channels and customers.  We also have subset discussion focused on marketing and technology.  Not that this is unique to KikScore, but I would say that 50% of our time is not spent on plotting strategy.  Instead we focus on delivering product and satisfying partner/customer requests. 

One of the things I worry about is staying “in touch”.  Talking isn’t enough.  As I describe above, the KikScore team talks a lot, but we need more time to think together.  While most of us are in one city, it doesn’t mean we sit down each week and just talk about general direction.  We are so busy with opportunities, we’re focused on getting through the day.  So how do you preserve the connection that first brought you together?  I have no idea.  We’re trying to use Skype and get together for lunches related solely to strategy, but as we work on more projects, those lunches are turning into project status meetings.  It’s a challenge.

I throw this out to the readers…any suggestions in rekindling our long conversations on strategy?

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How Did My Credit Card Go To Europe Before I Could?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I’m standing in line at Chipotle, ready to pay.  The cashier runs my card several times, each indicating a decline.  It’s getting embarrassing because not only am I holding up the line, but my friends now think I can’t afford a $6 burrito. 

In a twist of fate, I actually had cash on hand, so I paid and returned to my seat in shame.  Let me reassure everyone that I can afford a $6 burrito…in fact I can afford up to seven $6 burritos (hopefully I’ve laid that terrible rumor to rest).  The lunch banter steers away from me (which is always painful), so I’m sitting there pretending to listen while I try to remember if I paid my credit card bill.  I secretly used my iPhone and logged into my credit card site.  Everything looks good.  What the hell is going on?!

I then spend the entire Saturday working my way through several unhelpful menus and operators — and I finally reach someone from the fraud department.  I must answer a battery of questions to prove I’m truly Dojo Mike.  Then the gentlemen says “let me run through a few recent transactions”

Me: Ok

Credit Card:  Did you recently purchase $40 at [online company withheld]

Me: Yep

Credit Card:  How about $7,000 in Milan?

Me: Italy?

CC: Yes.

Me: Uh no.

Appears that I had made an online purchase that wasn’t secure.  Now a couple copies of my credit card were on an extended European vacation — spending a lot of time (and money) in Italy.  I had to cancel the card and put fraud alerts on my credit report for all three credit bureaus.  I’m also “encouraged” by the credit card company to monitor my bank accounts and online investments. 

I know online shopping is very convenient, but when security comes into question, the ill-prepared businesses can cause their shoppers quite a few headaches (and liabilities).  Clearly this is related to KikScore (as all online sites should use it to help prevent similar issues for their customers), but this truly did happen to me — and I’ll never shop at that online store again.  I’m also jealous that my credit card was able to enjoy Italy before me.

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KikScore's New Look: Don't Go Changin' Unless It's A Lot Better

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

So we launched KikScore a few months ago and we had, in our minds, a pretty good marketing site.  But in our own echo-chamber, all of our ideas sound great.  We then did something that was truly smart — we started listening to people outside our own company.  We asked for feedback from friends and family, customers and industry professionals.  We even used a cool site called usertesting.com — which allows you to watch strangers review your site (you hear their comments and see how they navigate the pages).

We gathered up the feedback and the trends were eye-opening.  They broke out along the general categories of: (a) how is your product different; (b) where do you sign up; and (c) what exactly does the service work.  So we went back to the drawing board (and when I say we, I mean our partner, Joel, went spent countless hours on the re-design).

Our new marketing site is out (www.KikScore.com).  In a post coming soon, Joel will provide his thoughts on design and the evolution of messaging.  But until then, we’re going to continue to solicit feedback…as we can always get better.  Please take a look at our new site and provide us your thoughts.

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2009 Blog Recap: My Favorite Postings of the Year

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

It’s the end of the year…a time for reflection and evaluation.  In this spirit, a few of us are going to highlight some of our favorite postings from the year.  Here are my favorite five postings we’ve done (I promise they won’t just be the ones I wrote):

1.  2009 Trends in ECommerce— Typical Raj posting, very informative and a great list of tools available for ecommerce businesses.

2.  Diary of a Tech Start Up: Idea to Soft Launch — Ok.  This is my post, but I like it because it starts our Diary series and it summarizes two years of our company.

3.  Making the Grade — Kristen’s first post and a really detailed view of what KikScore’s algorithm looks at when sizing up a business.

4.  A Few Good Blogs Part 1— A great list of blogs relating to ecommerce and small business.

5.  Brett Favre and Business — Despite the December let down, a got to love a post dedicated to the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback.

That’s my list.  Feel free to let us know if you agree/disagree.

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Posts Tagged ‘kikscore.com’

Making the Grade

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Our entire lives we are graded… from that first math test in elementary school through to cramming for the SAT/ACT’s… not to mention our parents own grade scale (in my house, aka the guilt trip) in determining if our behavior is worthy and success is likely as we venture out into the world. Even in Kindergarten I remember getting the U=Unsatisfactory in conduct because I couldn’t stop talking to my friend Beth during story hour. I remember my first B… It was 5th grade and I was convinced that my teacher was an idiot and I boycotted going back. Thankfully my mom (yes guilt trips can work wonders) convinced me otherwise.

The fact is, we are graded for everything and those ranges still apply to business… at KikScore, we’ve created our own range based upon the multitude of information being analyzed within our scoring model. The algorithm that keeps us math geeks going.  Yet, in the end, it’s still a ‘grade’… how does a consumer know that a site hasn’t hired a ‘front’ that is a false impersonator? Remember Making the Grade from 1984? Don’t be fooled!

I’ve shared below some guidelines to help with the comparison on what each KikScore range means. Merchants will strive for what works for them… but will it make the grade that brings customers??

Positive = KikScore Range 1000-600 (A’s-B’s)
• A merchant that openly shares information about the owners/managers of the company. This equates to full transparency and a desire to have their customers know them.
• A strong financial history shows that the merchant has made sound decisions, which promotes they can be trusted.
• The KikScore seal includes a Customer Feedback section. Merchants who consistently receive positive customer feedback display strong commitment to customer satisfaction.
• Pride in their website in establishing policies that protect consumers and provide highest levels of security

Average = KikScore Range 600-300 (Covers all the C‘s)
• Merchant that shares minimal information about the owners/managers of the company.
• Managers/Owners who have mid-range financial history may indicate that the merchant has made risky decisions over time. This promotes a sense of caution from a potential shopper.
• Minimal concern for consumer protection by establishing minimal policies and limited security within their website

Poor = 300 and below (D on down… or ‘U’ – Ouch)
• None or very little information is shared on the owners/managers of the company
• If information is shared, there is negative financial history (or minimal overall) which may indicate the merchant has made bad decisions over time and a potential indication that they could be shady.
• Negative feedback posted from previous customers indicates that the merchant hasn’t worked to make changes to remedy such customer concerns.
• No policies or security within their website indicates no concern for consumer protection and they are only out to make a profit

It is a Buyer Beware world as Raj shared in a recent post Cyber Monday. With KikScore we strive to provide avenues for merchants to succeed in selling online… but it’s their decision in the end on what to focus on and pave the way for their customer’s experience. Oh, and that B I got back in 5th grade… well, I studied harder and finished the year with an A.

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Diary of a Tech Start-Up: Funding…Dance with the Devil or Not

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

One of the ongoing debates going on with our tech start-up is whether to seek outside investment or not.  The first point that is often made by one of us is that it is too early to be thinking about it.  Heck, we just launched the beta version of this site and are now getting our first customers…isn’t it a bit presumptive to think about asking for $$ from a stranger? 

This scenario reminds me of a scene in the greatest movie of all time — Waiting for Guffman.  Corky St. Clair is charged with directing a play about Blaine, Missourri’s history.  Corky approaches the City Council and states that the ONLY thing he needs to throw the play is “one hundred thousand dollars”.  When informed that the City’s annual budget is $100k and that includes swimming, Corky responds “there won’t be swimming in my play.”  How does this tie into our discussion for asking for outside investment?  Well, maybe it doesn’t but it’s a great movie.  No, my point is that we before we seek out investment, we need to clearly establish a need for our services and that we have a competent management team that will know what to do with the money if/when we do get it.  We can’t go in all Corky St. Clair, not having a clue as to what is a reasonable amount of investment and establish what we are going to do with the money will have a strong likelihood of showing a return on investment.  See Corky asking for money

Now comes a more pressing question.  Assuming the time is right (and we don’t ask for the entire City Council’s budget), do we seek out investment at all?  As Raj pointed out in an earlier post, there are now a lot of tools that exist that make starting and running a business very inexpensive.  To date, we’ve been self-funding KikScore and we’re pretty good at stretching a dollar.  While it would be great to have a swank office and have the ability to throw an awesome holiday party with a DJ, it may not be worth the equity and control we’d have to give up (it really depends on how good the DJ is).  We’re not alone in our thinking.  According to a recent posting on www.rockyradar.com84% of Inc’s Fastest Growing 500 companies never received venture capital (though many did likely get angel financing). 

Several of us on the KikScore team have been part of venture-backed companies previously.  Some of us had good experiences, some of us did not.  So, as we continue to grow our customer base and improve upon our core product, the debate within KikScore will rage — do we continue to self-fund or do we seek professional investment.  We’ll keep you updated (and we’d love to hear your thoughts about it).

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