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Posts Tagged ‘Kikscore’

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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Posts Tagged ‘Kikscore’

Check Out the Dream Big Contest for Small Businesses – Win A Trip to DC!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

So our readers and the community know we here at KikScore are all about helping out, supporting and championing the Cleveland Browns. OK!  Just kidding (its draft day after all!), we are all about small business.   We eat, leave, breathe and do all things small business and this blog and its almost 400 posts (this is the 399th) is a testament to our commitment to small business success.   So when I found out about the Small Business Dream Big Conference, I said we at KikScore have to tell the world about it and support it.

So here are the details for this content that is sponsored by the folks that bring you .US domain names.  So if you enter the content and win here is what you get:

1. Two of you get to travel to Washington DC all expenses paid (make sure you stop by the historic Ben’s Chilli Bowl and awesome 2 Amy’s Pizza when you are here) between May 20-24th;

2. Two full day passes to the National Small Business Conference;

3. Professional consulting from an industry expert;

4. A complete website redesign; and

5. A local online advertising campaign customized just for your business.

Wow.  Sign me up.  That is pretty cool.  Does that mean if I win here at Kikscore they will pay my Metro fair to the conference and for me to stay at a hotel across the street from my house?  I hope so, I need the rest before our baby #2 arrives in July!  I would be the cheapest content winner that .US and Neustar could get, but knowing my luck (and theirs) they will get someone from Montana (been there by the way and it is beautiful) that they have to fly here through Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Richmond, Pittsburgh, and finally to DCA!

Anyway please go check it out and enter as all the details can be found at the Web Address to KickStart America Website – .US.  Great work to the .US folks for putting this together!

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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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A Look Behind Talk Business With Howard & His Tips To Grow Your Company

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

As everyone knows I am a huge Cleveland Browns fan and I have to say I do generally dislike all things Pittsburgh (Steelers!).  But I have the constant and recurring issue in my life of getting connected to just some fantastic people from Pittsburgh.  Well it starts with my wife, Rebecca, but it goes on an on.  It is really tough for me to keep up my angst about the 3 River city when they just have such great people from there!

So I met another former Pittsburgher, Howard Lewinter from yet another Pittsburgh native Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers (and of course I met Ivana through Anita Campbell.....ah yes another Ex-Pittsburgher).  About a month ago Ivana said to me I just have to meet Howard because he is great.  You know what, Howard is just fantastic and has been tremendously helpful in providing amazing practical guidance and direction to me at KikScore, among other things.  Then I found out that Howard has launched his own new radio show called Talk Business with Howard.  It is a great hour of radio where he interviews and talks with small business thought leaders and entrepreneurs.  The nuggets coming out of the show are excellent.  We at KikScore highly recommend Howard's show to all of the businesses, startups and the entrepreneur community.  So we are really excited to give you a look behind Talk Business with Howard and also Howard takes a few minutes to give some great guidance to all of us business owners.

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

I’m a Business Management Specialist. I advise, guide and focus CEOs, presidents and business owners.  My specialty is solving business problems and business issues. Whatever is holding you back from greater profit and success. I help CEOs, presidents and business owners get to where they want to be with their business regardless of what’s happening in the economy.

2. How did you get the idea for Talk Business With Howard?

I was sitting at my desk one day thinking about how many times I had to spell my name over and over again when I would talk with people and gave them my web or email address.  Although I’d been working with CEOs, presidents and business owners since 1989, about 5 years ago on that day I was sitting at my desk I asked myself the question of: What do I do?  I answered myself: I talk about business.  That’s how the URL of my website plus blog, radio show and Facebook page became Talk Business With Howard.  Easy to remember and very descriptive as to what I do.

3. What upcoming topics are you going to cover on the radio show?

My goal is always to get people in business to really think.  The greatest asset anyone has is to be thinking clearly and to have a positive attitude.  How you think determines how successful you will be in business – or anything else. The topics covered on Talk Business With Howard, either the blog or the radio show, always relate to business success.  Topics include: Almost anything you can think of related to running a successful, profitable business.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from starting your radio show that you could pass on to others about starting a business, what are those?

First: Plan.  Be prepared.  Second: Know who you are and where you want to go.  Relax and be yourself.

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

The focus is always on the need of the client.  My objective is to help CEOs, presidents and business owners breakthrough the barriers that keep them from the success they deserve.  I’ve advised business people to become millionaires; struggling companies to stabilize, turnaround and become profitable again; and I’ve advised multi-millionaires.  I help successful business people become more successful – or successful once again.

6. What do you see as 2 new trends that your guests are talking about for small business?

Several years ago everyone who ran a company wanted to talk about employee problems – how to train, motivate and have employees do the best work they possibly can; and how to grow their business. Today many businesses are talking about survival and how to best navigate through this uncertain economy.  The two topics they are most interested in are: 1) prospecting for new leads  2) closing more sales.

7. Who would be your dream guest for the radio show and why?

It’s not just one individual.   It’s any book author or business person that will help the listeners understand how to run or operate a better business with less stress and more profit.

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

Time.  There is no more time.  So whether someone is running their business or hosting a radio show, they have to use their time wisely.  You can buy a new car, get new clothes, go out to a fabulous restaurant, take a vacation or any other number of things; but the one thing you can’t buy is time.  You can’t get any more time.  There are only 24 hours in a day.  That’s it.  Use time wisely.

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

Yes! Don’t think of yourselves as small business.  Think as a business that every day is gaining momentum and growing into a very nice sized business that will help bring profit to the company and provide for their family, employees and everyone they are associated with a very nice living and way of life.

10. What is your 140 letter Twitter quote of your message to small businesses out there in the form of guidance, lessons learned or just your special thought?

Don't sit behind your desk. Get out there. Get involved. Be in action with your business.

Thanks Howard for sitting down with us.  If any of our readers have questions for Howard, please leave them in the comments section and we will work to get answers to those questions.

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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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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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Posts Tagged ‘Kikscore’

SmallBiz Strategy Tips from Our 7 Best Blog Interviews of Last Year

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The holidays are over (for most people anyway) and people are returning to work.  Last year was hectic and I don’t think this year will be much better considering it’s election year. Now before we start running for the underground bunkers or start to wade through the tens of thousands of political articles and interviews, let’s take a look at 7 really good interviews of last year that were on the blog.  [Please note that these are in no particular order, except for maybe how they appeared in my tab list.] I selected these because I think that they offer some new tips and talk about things that aren’t often talked about.

1. Books the new old Google

Turning Sites into Gold: This is an interview of John Nicholson from Marketade. The thing I liked the most about this interview was that Nicholson suggests going to a library and looking at books to get information.  I love libraries (although I haven’t properly been inside one in ages) and I think this is a source that most people overlook.

I remember when I was doing a Linguistics project, my partner and I got all of our information from two very good, but slightly outdated books.  Sure, the internet is a great resource and will probably have the most current information, but how much of that is actually valuable? At least with books, you know that it’s been filtered and scrutinized enough to know that it’s valuable. It may not be current, but it’s probably the best.

2. Law, Perfection and the Internet

The Right Side of the Law: This is an interview with Gregg Hand.  One of the things Hand talks about in the interview is the fear of starting a business. I like his examples of the types of decisions that one has to make when starting a business.  Often it’s stuff that you don’t think about.

Hand also mentions that conditions for small businesses have become more favorable due to the internet. Now this is probably something we all know, but it’s always nice to hear it in words.  The best bit of advice that I think Hand gives in this interview is that things don’t have to be perfect. If you’re starting a business, often you won’t have everything set up just yet and you will most likely encounter setbacks even if you make a habit of starting businesses.  Eventually, you’ll have to jump right in and get started.

3.The Duo of the Elite Group

“Putting Your Money baQ Where it Belongs” : This is a double interview with both the CEO (Brian J. Esposito) and the CTO
(Peter Hermsen) of paybaQ.  Their advice is solid and I liked the acknowledgement about family members and friends un/intentionally bringing you down. I think this is something that happens often, but that no one really talks about.

One of my favorite bits from this interview is the description of the small business community as “elite”.  They mention that small business owners should be proud of the responsibility that they have taken on and I feel like this is a point that should be brought up more often. It takes a lot of work, energy and determination to start a small business, so feel proud small business owners!

4. Platforms and Personality

The Speech AND the Pen are Mightier than the Sword: I’ll admit to a little bit of bias on my part for picking this. I’ve met Jill Foster before and I like her and thinks that she gives great advice.  One important point that she brings up in this interview is that one doesn’t have to use all of the social media platforms that are out there.

A lot of the things that I’ve read online make it seem like small businesses have to use every single platform that they can find. I know that’s a bit silly, but that’s the impression I got. Jill is the only person I’ve seen so far mention the fact that one shouldn’t use all of them.

Another good piece of advice that she gives is to make sure that your business has a personal feel to it. Big businesses like Target or Walmart  have a certain feel to them, but it’s impersonal and not the type of feeling that y0u want a customer to get from your small business.

5. Juggling Jobs

Talking Employedpreneurs & Steps to Success for Businesses with Tai Goodwin : What I like about this interview is that it focuses on people trying to start a small business while having a job.  Goodwin gives some great pieces of advice such as putting in systems to manage your small business while you work at your other job.  Goodwin also talks a little bit about different business models and suggests trying something other than the traditional one-to-one model.

The piece of advice I liked best from this interview is that it’s important to be flexible.  Having a vision is good, but often, due to the way the environment changes, you may need to update it. Customers and markets tend to change quickly and you’ll be in better shape if you can adapt faster to keep up.

6. Products and People

Small Business Interview with Sophie Kovic from FlockStocks : My favorite piece of advice from this is bit about choosing a product that doesn’t vary much because then you’ll have less trouble.  Another great piece of advice is to trust the people who work under you. You cannot manage everything. Let go when necessary and trust that when you go on vacation, the people whom you leave in charge will work things out.

7. Coordination and Background Knowledge

Reach Your Best Insights: This is an interview with Pierre DeBois.  One piece of advice I liked from this interview is the fact that online and offline activities should be coordinated. It’s like picking colors, you has to choose ones that go together. Another thing that DeBois talks about is going beyond Search Engine Optimization. Yes, that is important, but there’s things beyond that which Small Businesses should do too.

One of the points that DeBois brings up is the fact that Small Businesses need to think about what goes on in the background that’s essential to either the customers or the business itself.  Reading all of these articles and tips for Small Business owners, I get the feeling that it’s something that’s often not touched on.

All of these interviews offer valuable advice for Small Businesses and should be reviewed as you owners start drawing up your plans for the coming year. If you have any tips or interviews to add to or contest, leave a comment. :)

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