Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business

30Apr/110

UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition: Part 1 of 2

I went to the UC Berkeley annual business plan competition on Friday evening. It was insightful and impressive. Eight finalists were chosen from 35 semi finalists by a panel of eight judges. Eight finalists were given 15 minutes each to present their ideas and the remaining 27 semi finalists who didn't make it to the final round were given 1 minute to give an elevator pitch. Finalists belonged to one of four tracks - IT & Web, Energy & Clean Tech, Life sciences, Products & Services. There were 2 finalists in each track. Three prizes were distributed at the end of the evening: People's Choice Award ($5000), Best Elevator Pitch ($1000) and Grand Prize ($20,000).

To get details on the semi finalists please read through the UC Berkeley Business Plan Brochure 2011 (pages 17-24). Best Elevator Pitch went to Inserogen, a biotech company that uses non-transgenic tobacco plants as protein bio factories thus accelerating vaccine development.

The eight finalists had the following components in their presentation: identifying an unmet need and solving it well, a substantial and growing market size, a strong team, proof of concept, a robust revenue model/financial analysis, an integrative production and distribution strategy and strong positioning through competitive analysis. The eight finalists were:

1. Kopo Kopo: provides financial services to emerging markets via text messages through mobile phones at approximately $200/month ($100-$400 monthly subscription fee). Kopo Kopo has already partnered with 2 financial institutions (profit shown in image on right) in Kenya to provide the poor access to financial services. They offer a SaaS platform to financial institutions to connect mobile money networks to a Management of Information Systems (MIS). They plan to target this 1.1B market by targeting the 30M small and medium sized Sub Saharan businesses in Africa.

2. Imprint Energy: This was my favorite and I voted for it in the People Choice Award category. Imprint Energy makes rechargeable batteries that can be printed and attached to shoes, clothing, etc.  These customizable, paper thin, longer lasting batteries consist of 5 layers and Imprint Energy has partnered with many companies for its development and manufacturing as seen below. The competitive landscape has few players and Imprint Energy batteries last longer, are rechargeable, are easier to manufacture and are more rugged and safer compared to its competitors.

3. Axis: makes a protective vest that protects athletes from spinal and bodily injuries through advanced sports injury prevention technology. It specifically protects the neck and buttocks in addition to the back as those are the most susceptible parts during an injury. It uses a gel technology which hardens on impact and protects the athlete. Axis plans to start with the equestrian market and then expand to other high risk sports.

4. Cardio Paint: provides heart attack diagnosis and improves risk stratification with a peptide-based injectable. 5M patients visit emergency rooms annually for chest pains of which 60% are told to wait and see what happens. Cardio Paint addresses problem by improving risk stratification through an injectible that accumulates radioisotopes (as seen in the rat's tail below) at a blood clot and better diagnose heart attacks at half the cost and one-tenth of the time.

You can read about the remaining 4 finalists here.

31Mar/110

Trends in Web 2.0: Part 2 of 2

This is continuation of an earlier post on my learnings at the Web 2.0 Expo.

4. Mobile Payment is a big deal: Osama Bedier, Google's VP of Payments, gave an excellent presentation on the future of mobile payments. Mobiles are everywhere (more mobiles in the world than toothbrushes) and Bedier gave an example of how Tesco lets its customers scan the products in their shopping carts with an app (image on right; great example of how online data integrates with offline data). Total payment is computed by adding up all the items in the shopping cart but online payment is still not possible. Bedier suggests that online payments need to revert to old school thinking where you could visit your local grocery store and the owner recognizes you and suggests your favorites or tells you when the item that you couldn't get will come in or if you want it now where else will you get it and even let's you pay later if you forgot your wallet.

5.Sentiment Tracking and Analysis: As the internet becomes a two- way communication channel in the future measure human sentiment is a critical part of measuring engagement. Rosalind Picard, CEO of Affectiva,Inc has a glove that is a wearable, wireless biosensor that measures emotional arousal via skin conductance that grows higher during states such as excitement, attention or anxiety and lower during states such as boredom or relaxation. As it increases during excitement and anxiety she also tracks facial emotion to differentiate the positive from the negative emotion. You can try out this for yourself in the Forbes study.

6. Localization and Social commerce will be a bigger part of  e-Commerce: Dane Glasgow of eBay stated  how localization has helped eBay better cater to its customers and Susan Gregg Koger of ModCloth gave examples of how social commerce has increased customer participation and purchases in clothing and accessories at ModCloth.

eBay acquired Milo to better provide localization services. This helped eBay better serve customers who are in the cross channel - use online resources to research products they want and then go to the local store to buy them- and are important as the segment grows 5X/year.

ModCloth uses three tactics of social commerce to better serve its customers. The first is customers to name the dress/apparel and the winner gets it free. The second is to provide reviews with a twist by encouraging customers to upload pictures of themselves with the product. This encourages self expression and makes it personal. The third is to "act as a buyer" and decide if a product should be bought or skipped. This creates an online product line that is relevant and chosen by the customers who most probably will buy it as they participated in the buying decision.

31Mar/116

Trends in Web 2.0: Part 1 of 2

I spent March 29-31 at Web 2.0 Expo hosted at the beautiful Moscone Center in San Francisco. I would like to share my learnings on trends in Web 2.0.

1. Six Web Trends: Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine identified six web trends that are here to stay: screening, interacting, sharing, flowing, accessing (not owning) and generating (not copying).

Screening refers to screens/interfaces that will dominate areas we never thought of before. For example, virtual phone screens that could be viewed on the palm of our hand and spectacles that could double up as information interfaces. Kevin predicts that one day there will be a single screen for everything - phone, computer, entertainment, navigation, etc.

Interacting refers to the use of modes other than voice, haptic and/or text in communicating with technology. Some other modes could be gestural and eyetracking. He predicts interfaces and humans to be two way communication channels and interfaces will use human input to adapt their layouts to better cater to human needs.

Sharing is going to exponentially grow in the future and will not be limited to sharing information on sleep patterns, locations, health records, etc.

Flowing refers to information in real time. Humans will plug into real time information streams as opposed to static files/pages. Tags will dominate over folders and cloud based services will dominate over web/desktop. Accessing is renting and not owning.  For example, Zipcar, Netflix, renting books, etc. This eliminates maintenance and inventory.

Generating is using operatives that can't be copied. For example, Amazon is in the business of findability and insight (reviews/ratings) not products which can be easily copied. Other generatives could be authentication, personalization, embodiment (see people perform), interpretation (learn how to use) and attention.

Basically, these six verbs describe the future of the web and the money will flow wherever the attention flows.

2. Online Games will be bigger in the future but designing them well is the difference between success and failure. The following core concepts from Amy Jo Kim define 'game thinking':

  1. Know who’s playing – design for their social style such as collaborative (Farmville), competitive or exploratory (ModCloth-online shopping)
  2. Build a system that’s easy to learn and hard to master
  3. Build fun/pleasure/satisfaction into your core activity loop
  4. Use Progress Mechanics to “light the way” towards learning and mastery. Gamers can be novices, regulars or enthusiasts and motivation (badges) for novices, challenges for regulars and exclusivity/recognition for enthusiasts are used as progressive mechanisms
  5. Design for Onboarding, Habit-Building, and Elder Game
  6. As players progress, unlock greater challenges, customization and privileges
  7. Give players real power via stats, voting, earned roles, & crowd-sourcing

3. User Experience differentiates your company from another: For example among the online travel sites hipmunk looks at a factor called Agony which is a combination of price, duration and number of stops which truly captures a traveler's experience.

You can continue reading the other trends here.

31Jan/115

Technology I love that makes a difference in my life

I love technology and want to share with you five pieces of technology- software and hardware- that make a difference in my life.

1. Water flossing: I have to admit I never flossed everyday before buying the water flosser. After I bought the Waterpik (picture on right) I enjoy flossing and have not missed flossing a single day. This product not only has made flossing efficient but my dental hygiene has improved too.

2. Vacuum cleaning robot: Vacuuming can be boring and the Roomba takes care of my all my vacuuming needs - both hardwood and carpet without me having to be present. This product does an excellent job though it does have a few drawbacks specially in the area of smarter navigation which I hope get addressed in the next generation products.

3. iPhone: This is definitely my favorite piece of technology. Its ease of use and the many applications it offers  make it my favorite.

4. Bluetooth enabled Mini Cooper: I love the Mini Cooper- iPhone integration. I can call anyone using the circular dashboard that has all my contacts and use the controls on the steering wheel to connect or disconnect calls. I can't wait to have a GPS integrated into the car soon.

5. Facebook: I am a Facebook addict. This service provides instant emotional gratification. The emotional equity shared among family and friends through stories, pictures and videos is its greatest asset.

Dear Readers, please share your favorite gadgets. I would love to try it out if I haven't already and would love to know why you love it so much.

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12Nov/104

Web Analytics to Track your Blog

This post is dedicated to my loyal readers! Thank you for patiently waiting for each post (yes I know it's just 2 posts/month). So the question is how do I know I have loyal blog readers? I know because I am tracking my blog with software and I'm here to tell you about it. As of now all the tools listed below are free and the scope of this post of this post is limited to free blog tracking tools. Let's get started!

1. Google Analytics - my favorite free blog tracking tool as it has a wealth of information. With this tool you can answer the following questions.

Content metrics: Which posts interest my readers? Which posts do they spend more time on? Which posts do not interest users? For example, the image on the right shows content metrics for the first month of starting my blog. Readers were most interested in my portfolio (most page views) followed by my bio (about me) and the post on 'trust and e-commerce homepages'. A further look shows  that the post on  'listen to your customers' was not as highly viewed (22 vs. 81 views) as the post on 'trust and e-commerce homepages' but readers spent more time on 'listen to your customers' (4.17 minutes vs. 1.39 minutes) and it had a lower bounce rate (bounce rate= when someone immediate leaves the page/blog after they have come to the post) which is also a critical metric of interest. Bounce rates below 30% for any post or blog are preferred as it means your audience is engaged in your content and is not leaving the blog. Bounce rates can also be high if the audience is not your target audience though your content is good. Page Analytics shows  readers clicked (in pink on image above) on my blog's home page more than my portfolio and bio page. This will help you understand which links get more attention from your readers.

Traffic sources: It's equally important to monitor your traffic sources to attract traffic as it is to write great content. A summary of my traffic sources for 3 months (since my blog's birth) shows organic traffic (readers who type my name in a search engine to come to my blog)  and direct traffic (readers who open a browser and type my blog address) to be highest which is natural. I also get traffic from social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Stumble Upon and Hootsuite) and Blog directories (Blog Search and Blogged). The more effort I put into finding channels to send traffic to my blog the better my outreach but I should also be aware of targeting the right audience through these channels. For example, the bounce rates and average time on my blog indicate LinkedIn, Facebook and Organic sources to be good traffic sources but Twitter and direct traffic to not be good traffic sources. This could mean I'm not attracting the right audience on my Twitter and my readers want more frequent updates on my blog as they have nothing new to read other than the 2 posts/month. It's also important to monitor  the keywords that readers put into search engines to come to your blog. For example, the image above shows the keywords and the corresponding times spent on my blog. Google Adwords (not shown) identifies which keywords people most search for in my field.  Once, I identify these keywords I can tailor my content accordingly and thus get more traffic.

Visitors: My blog has about 50% new and 50% returning visitors. I am extremely interested in 2 metrics: visitor loyalty and visitor depth. The images below indicate that I have a loyal following and 70% of my readers visit my blog 8 or more times. 55% of my readers read 2 or more pages on my blog. Thank you my loyal and interested visitors!

2. Bit.ly- This tool measures the number of readers who clicked on a link that you shared. You could share this link on Facebook, Twitter or your Blog. The link could be an image, a link to a blog post or a video. For example, of all my links that I have shared on Twitter, Facebook, Shazeeye's Blog or LinkedIn the link that got the most interest (maximum clicks) was the one on "25 Most Influential Business Women in San Francisco" that I shared on Twitter (@shazeeye).

3. PercentMobile- a critical tool to monitor your mobile traffic. I have not done well in this area and I'm changing that immediately. For example, I had 39 visitors who came to my blog last month using 6 different mobile devices and unfortunatley as my blog was not easy to read on the mobile device 97% left immediately. I lost important traffic. Though I use a free wordpress plugin - WPtouch- to make it easy to read on a mobile device it has not worked well for me so I've finally decided to buy my first tool -WPtouch Pro.

4. Google Feedburner- measures the number of subscribers to your blog.

5. UserVoice- moderates and tracks user comments at a post and page level on your blog. These will be the orange tabs you see near my portfolio and bio page. Now that it's established that this blog has a few fans do you want to show me some love and post a comment using the comment form below. Thanks!

Where can I find these tools?

Google Analytics, Bit.ly, PercentMobile, Google Feedburner, Google Adwords and User Voice

Instructions to add these tools?

Google Analytics, Bit.ly, PercentMobile (sign up and it guides you through the process), Google Feedburner, Google Adwords and User Voice

If you know of any tools that I forgot to write about please let me know.

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