iphone: Will it blend

We talked about the marketing gimmicks of Blendtec blenders (Will it blend?) and the features of the iPhone. It had to happen …. Will the iPhone blend? The results were posted on youtube this morning. Spoiler alert: It does, down to a fine black powder!



iPhone: Fad or To Stay?

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Hello fellow entrepreneurs and business evangelists! My name is Ash Kumra and I am a digital media entrepreneur. I am currently CEO of www.desiyou.com ; a South Asian Content Network showcasing stories from South Asian culture and life. I will write on emerging companies, founders and business trends. My first post will be on the latest craze no matter where you live in North America: The iphone!

 

The iPhone’s first weekend of sales were stellar. Reviews are out and the verdict is fairly positive (just make sure to not drop it :)). What interest me are comparisons of competing phones and how carriers are responding. Jason Calcanis of Weblogs fame and Palm Research have interesting comparisons with phone models. The Nokia E90 Communicator has also been getting appeal with many “alpha influencer�? techies and leverages Dell as a distribution partner.

Carriers like Sprint are already tackling features the iPhone lacks like their ability to not enable a web browser on a WiFi network. In a recent Wall Street Journal article; Sprint’s president of WiMax’s service said they’re pushing their WiMax initiative in unsubsidized devices to allow a true mobile internet access experience. “Subsidized devices are why we have walled gardens. They’re why operators have to have contracts,” West said during FierceMarkets’ recent WiMax Strategies conference.

With a marketing campaign and cult following that’s second to none; you can’t deny Apple has a built in word of mouth sales force. However; I think the iPhone’s lust and sexiness can persuade people for so long. Apple needs to modify future iPhone models with more features and functionality the way iPods have evolved. If you would like to read more why I endorse the iPhone; read my pre iPhone launch opinion with Investor Business Daily.

Disclaimer: I am neither an employee nor shareholder of Apple or Investor’s Business Daily.


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Entrepreneur Extraordinaire: Max Levchin of Slide, Paypal

slide logo taglineWhat is the definition of an Entrepreneur? To me, a true entrepreneur is a person who not only dares to dream, but it is someone who has the single minded courage and persistence, to chase the dream until it turns into reality. It is someone who is willing to try 10 times and fail, until they reach that breakthrough moment, when they finally create something of lasting value.

I have heard numerous talks or read many articles, where an entrepreneur’s story has been described from the lofty point of view of implied, instant success. Entrepreneur starts company, grows revenues to x million, has an IPO, and successfully sells the company a couple of years later. And then on to the next success.

Reality rarely matches this idealistic scenario. Very seldom do we find entrepreneurs who simply step on the start-up rocket ship, and blast into mega enterprise space, the first time around. Even less frequently do we find a successful entrepreneur who is willing to tell the real story behind the story, and talk about all the failures that led to the ultimate success.

I once heard Max Levchin, founder of Paypal, deliver a keynote at a conference, where he put a human face on climbing up the golden path of entrepreneurship, and the trials and tribulations on the way. He described his experience of starting a string of “garage” companies (9 in all) with little or no success. Then he spoke about one day, showing up at a business class with the intention of taking a nap in the back of the classroom (it was a hot day and the class room was air conditioned). Turned out that there was only one other person in the class. When the presenter, hedge fund manager Peter Thiel turned up, he found out, much to his chagrin, that he had an audience of only two, Max and another person. That “close” encounter led up to another meeting, and soon, between Max’s software expertise and entrepreneurial drive, and Peter Thiel’s business and finance acumen, Paypal was born.

After Paypal, Max Levchin went on to found his next start-up Slide, a photo sharing site. Today, with upwards of a 100 million viewers, the site, by any account, is a huge success.

Well, a winning streak of two successes, after a string of not-so-successful ventures - is that a fluke? Not really. If you stack up a few wrecks on the road of entrepreneurship, pretty soon you are able to climb high enough, where you can see further, and you know which direction to not go next time. Past experiences tend to successively focus our vision towards where the next success will very likely lie. Also a huge success like Paypal probably brought Max a whole lot of credibility and panache, which made the next success, Slide, all the more likely.

Ultimately, we do realize that Max Levchin got where he did, not just because he was smart enough to see and seize upon an opportunity, but also because he had the tenacity to keep trying until the “fluke” ultimately happened!


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Glam: #1 network for women

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Glam is busy tooting its own horn these days. And why shouldn’t they? Bypassing the venerable ivillage as the number #1 destination for women, would cause anyone to turn cart wheels. Add to that the fact that Glam is the fastest growing website in the US with 17 million unique visitors a month, and you quickly realize that glam is doing something right!

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Besides all the usual categories you would expect on a site such as this - celebrities, fashion, shopping, beauty - Glam has a set of well read blogs which ponder questions such as “Who should be July’s It Guy?”.

Glam’s real It guy is Samir Arora (from Apple). He, along with a team of eclectic folks from the worlds of IT architecture and media, created a portal that would not only attract the 80% female demographic in the consumer internet space, but would also unite independent and user generated content related to women’s issues.

glam media pulseGlam is a text book example of great marketing and branding. The site serves as a platform for hosting independent blogs on topics that relate to women’s interests. The blogs not only generate a wealth of content for the site, they provide a very effective advertising distribution network for Glam, which shares the ad revenue with the writers.

And glamour does not come cheaply. With $30 million raised in venture capital from Duff Ackerman & Goodrich Ventures, Accel Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, WaldenVC, and Information Capital, the company had a valuation of $150 million after the last $18.5 million Series C round in December 2006.

Today, Glam’s valuation today is pegged at $500 - what a difference 6 months makes! Last year, Ivillage was acquired by NBC for $600 million.

So who’s going to do an IPO next? I wouldn’t be surprised if Glam’s thoughts start going in that direction!


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