Categories for News

5 Slide Startup Challenge (Get covered on TSF)

 TSF readers have been working on some fantastic startups. I would love to feature more reader created startups on the site so I came up with the 5  Slide Startup Challenge.

Here’s the deal:

1. Build a slide deck with a maximum of 5 slides. Don’t include any animations in your deck.
2. Record your elevator pitch. This should be no longer than 2 minutes. Video quality isn’t a big deal (just use your built in webcam), but really polish your pitch.
 3. Send us an email at with “5 slide challenge” in the subject line and your slide deck and video attached (or a link to them).

I’ll feature the best startup pitches on TSF. I’d really appreciate it if you helped to spread the word (on Twitter, Facebook, etc.). I’m very interested in what TSF readers are building, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you! Good luck!

Turbulence and the Start Up Bubble- “If you freak out, I’ll freak out”.

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post written by Jason Lorimer from CulturaHQ.

I was recently on a Southwest Airlines flight (not this one thankfully) from Philadelphia to Chicago, sitting next to a beautiful blond woman. Her being in the same general line of work and me being a nervous talker, we passed the time by talking shop. Specifically, how we were both amazed at how few innovative ideas seemed to be coming out the abundance of start up companies popping up all across the US.

How many task tracking and photo applications does the world really need?

With all the low hanging fruit out there waiting to be disrupted, why did everyone seem to be trying to build a better version of the same dozen or so things. My seat buddy, as adorable as she is smart, said:

“They build for the funding first and the customer second.”

Obvious and insightful — Marry me I thought.

On the return trip some days later, I sat in the back row having shown up late to the gate and was greeted with some of the worst turbulence I’d ever experienced. Not so bad in it’s depth as it was in it’s length. For several minutes at varying intervals, this 747 was being thrown around like a rag doll. Being in the back row and an avid people watcher, I noticed something that allowed me to refocus my brain away from the sheer terror that was creeping up my neck. The turbulence had gotten so bad that people were starting to be alarmed. They were slowly turning their heads to look at each other as if to say:

Should I be freaking out right now? If you are freaking out, I’ll freak out.

The flight soon after settled and once the attendants lined the aisle with over-priced booze, everyone seemed to go back to normal. The next day I was telling this tale to a friend back in Philly and I laughed to myself midway through as the parallels clicked: The start up scene is that airplane, the passengers entrepreneurs and the turbulence the investment capital. Everyone looking around at each other but not speaking up. Imagine the same mental monologue from an early stage entrepreneur:

“Is it me or is my start up pointless? I mean, if you don’t think yours is pointless, mine must not be pointless because if you thought yours was pointless, you would be freaking out about that 300K of investors money you are burning every month and you are not so I shouldn’t be worried that I have no customers or even a proof of concept, let alone revenue.

Anyway, Are you guys going to the Tumblr party at SXSW? I heard Jon Hamm is going to be there.”

For the record, anybody willing to put their neck on the line to build something instead of running their mouth about what they are going to do is good in my book, but is it possible
that start-up bubbles might just be caused by vanity as much as they are by an abundance of available capital?

Are revenue models not cool?

Maybe I am being naive but I just think if most entrepreneurs would put aside the idea of being crowned the Internet King on the Month and just focus on transforming pre-internet business models into post internet. ventures, everyone down the line would be better served.

For more startup articles, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry

Mint’s Original Marketing Plan (circa 2007)

When personal finance assistant launched in late 2007, their app was warmly received by the startup community. You couldn’t go anywhere on the web without someone talking (positively) about Mint. A huge key of Mint’s success was the brilliant marketing plan they put together and executed.

For the first time ever, Noah Kagan (Mint’s former marketing director) gave TSF readers an inside peak at Mint’s original marketing plan. Noah has since moved on from Mint and now runs AppSumo, a site that provides “daily deals for web geeks”.

This document is pure gold for any startups that need help with marketing. Don’t miss this.

Marketing Game Plan for Mint

Again, special thanks to Noah Kagan from AppSumo for making this available to TSF readers.

For more startup news, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry.

Month Two of TSF: 140,000 page views, $500 in revenue, and how I screwed up

Running a startup news site, I ask founders for hard numbers all the time. I think it’s only fair to publicly share mine once a month as well. This article is focused on the second month of TSF. You can read about our first month here.

The second month was hard for me. Running a startup full-time and a side project (The Startup Foundry) is paradoxically draining and fulfilling simultaneously. Alexis Ohanian (a co-founder of Reddit) nailed it when he said “Entrepreneurship is a bipolar existence”.

Hard numbers:

Traffic was up from 120,000 pageviews to 140,000 a month. 60 days ago TSF didn’t even exist and we’ve still managed to serve over a quarter of a million page views. This is very encouraging to me and I would like to say thank you to our readers.

Through sponsors we’ve generated $500 in revenue this month.

Things I did correctly:

1. Increased Revenue: Last month we made $462 dollars in revenue. This month I increased that number to $500. Even though it’s not a huge jump, it’s progress. The more money I generate, the more time I can spend on TSF. Slowly but surely I’m seeing this grow.
2. Viral Promotional Piece: I doodled a Startup Death Clock on a napkin for fun. An hour later I had a rough version put together in Photoshop and HTML. Two hours after that a TSF reader (Ashley Williams) helped me with some javascript and we completed our silly clock. In the first 6 hours after launch, the death clock received 5,000 page views, and people had spent over 11 days playing with it. This promotional piece helped drive traffic to the main site and increased our followers on twitter significantly.

Things I sucked at:

1. Article output has dipped: Situations arose in my life when I was unable to publish an article for the day. I should have had several stories in my backpocket that I could fill in the holes.
2. Better submission process for startups seeking coverage: I need to streamline this. Entrepreneurs and founders are already busy people. I want to make their life a little easier.
3. Mailing lists: Currently I have two mailing lists. The Weekly and the Daily Digest. I need to do a better job of creating value with my newsletters, and promoting them.

Next Steps:

Each month I focus on one metric to improve. This month I’m working on lowering the bounce rate. Currently we are at an 80% rate. I would like to see this number drop to about 50%. Most of the changes to TSF in this month will be addressing this issue.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. I will try to answer each one as openly as I can.

For more startup news, follow us on twitter @StartupFoundry.

We’re giving away 10 copies of SyncPad for iOS ($9.99 value)

You may have seen our earlier coverage of SyncPad in our post yesterday titled “Talk to your real customers, not your imaginary ones. The SyncPad story.“.

We ran the promotion on our story yesterday, but we felt it would be best to mention it in a separate post to give it the attention it deserves.

We are giving away 10 copies of the iPhone and iPad versions (5 copies each). If you would like a chance to win a copy, leave a comment and tweet out a link to this article. An easy way to do that is by a simple ReTweet.

We will pick the winners in the next couple of days. SyncPad for iPad is available for $9.99 on the App Store or $4.99 for the iPhone version.

For up to the minute startup news, follow us on twitter @startupfoundry.

If iPads are “post-pc devices” why must I sync with iTunes before I can use one?

This past Wednesday Apple had a keynote event announcing the iPad 2. Steve Jobs demonstrated the refined new iPad in a highly polished presentation while simultaneously slipping in a few jabs at Apple’s competitors. Overall it was a pretty standard affair for an Apple event.

As I listened to Steve speak, one phrase kept gnawing at me. Steve said that the iPad was “a post-pc device”. As an iOS developer who makes his living building apps for iPads and iPhones, I disagree. You see iOS has this ball and chain attached to it called “iTunes” that runs on a typical PC. The first time you turn your iPad on you’re greeted with this screen on the right prompting you to plug your iPad into a computer so it can be setup. You can’t even turn your iPad on the first time without being tethered to iTunes.

Do you want to get media on your device (other than from the iTunes store)? Better have a computer handy so you can sync with iTunes. If you’re traveling and must preform a hard reset (where you lose all of your data) what do you do? You won’t have any way to get your data back until you get home and can sync your latest backup from iTunes. As someone who no longer travels with a laptop (just an iPad), this thought terrifies me.

For a device that is “a post-pc device”, it sure feels like a peripheral product to a typical computer.

I love my iPad and my iPhone but to call them post-pc devices is pure ideology at this stage in the game, and not grounded in reality. With Apple’s massive data center rumored to go live anytime, they could alleviate a lot of these problems by letting some of your data reside in the cloud. Until then as an iOS developer, I believe calling the iPad a “post-pc” device is disingenuous.

If you enjoyed this article, please follow us on twitter @startupfoundry. Thanks!

A look back at Arrington’s 2005 “Web 2.0 Companies I couldn’t live without”

In December of 2005, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch put a list together of his favorite web 2.0 companies he couldn’t live without. That was almost 5 years ago, and we decided it would be fun to see how the startups are fairing in in 2011.


I’ve actually never heard of bloglines until I read this post, but apparently it was planned to shut down on October 1st, 2010, but then Merchant Circle acquired it and re-launched it, so the website is still up.

Bloglines was essentially a RSS reader and a news aggregator ,and I can see why Arrington couldn’t live without it back in ’05.  For a news junkie, it had everything you needed.  According to the Mashable article, the founders said that Twitter & Facebook basically killed the service.  Maybe their is some minor validation in “RSS is dead” after all?  I still rely on RSS for my iPhone news consumption, but I agree twitter & facebook is where I get my latest news.

Here are some of the awards they received, according to their Wikipedia page

  • Included in Time Magazine’s Top 50 Web Sites for 2004[6]
  • Voted Best Blog/Feed Search Engine by the Search Engine Watch Awards in 2005[7]
  • BusinessWeek’s Best of the New Web[8

We all know the story of Delicious and Yahoo, so there’s not much explaining that needs to be done regarding this. In 2005 it was strong, and I think it is still going strong until Yahoo officially decides to end it.  There are a lot of competitors out there in the bookmarking business, but I still don’t see the need for it to be honest.  I ended up with thousands of bookmarks, and I never found myself looking back for saved bookmarks. If I needed something, I just google it and blam there it is.

However, maybe i’m not the perfect user of this tool.  Someone inevitably asked what the alternatives to delicious were on Quora. One that came up that was slightly different then the rest was PearlTrees.  I’ve tried it, and I’ve tried to like it and I just can’t.  It just seems like so much work just to organize bookmarks or websites, or whatever in the world it is trying to organize.

But, delicious was very relevant in 2005 and I think still very relevant in 2011.

FeedBurnerAcquired by Google in 2007 for $100MM, I can confidently say that feedburner is still very relevant in 2011. RSS is not dead, and I’m fairly sure every one that uses RSS for their blog has it connected through feedburner.  It provides detailed analytics on your RSS subscribers, and i’m not sure who the competitors are in this space.  So I take back what I said.  Maybe RSS isn’t dead!!??

FlickrAnother Yahoo acquisition that is still loved by everyone, but can probably have been more successful if they grew the site properly.  I personally think it could have pivoted into some sort of Facebook, but Yahoo just didn’t see it that way apparently.  Regardless, it is still safe to say that flickr is still very very relevant and loved by many users.  I don’t use it much, but I know that a lot of my friends and colleagues do.  Facebook has very much so jumped into the photo space, but Flickr still remains to be loved and probably still a web 2.0 app that people can’t live without.

MeasureMap – I had to Google this one and after a few searches I figured out that Google bought them and the site now redirects to Google Analytics.  It was supposed to be analytics for your blog.  This one is hard to say if it is “still relevant” or not, because not many people got to see what it was like.  Google analytics is obviously very relevant.

Memeorandum – This one I also had to Google and soon figured out that it was the early days of TechMeme.  It seems to be that the tech section of memeorandum had evolved into a full site of its own and needed its own memorable URL.  Hence we have This is also a site I don’t use, but I’ve seen a lot of articles regarding and is still very widely used by the tech community.

NetVibes – I used to love netvibes, and since twitter / facebook I’ve fallen out of love with it.  It has an awesome interface and I think it was / is is a leader on how to design a clean interface for a personalized home page.  It is still very relevant now and there has been a lot of coverage of netvibes on techcrunch

OmniDrive – From their wikipedia page: “Omnidrive was an online storage company with a single multi-platform product that aggregates storage into a single place.” Sound Familiar?  Well, it is now defunct and even if they were still around, Dropbox would be some stiff competition.  This actually brings a smile to my face, and should give everyone hope that you can still do something that another company failed at.  This also means that you should give Dropbox a LOT of credit for not only surviving, but being an essential service for almost anyone who uses a computer.

Pandora – I actually prefer grooveshark as my place for music, but it is still way behind Pandora in terms of usage.  It has some stiff competition with and grooveshark, but it was a must have in 2005 and it is definitely a must have in 2011.

Skype – In 2005 it was a must have, and 2011 it is definitely not going anywhere even if Google is part of the competition.  It’s a well known and very used international product, and still is a mission critical app for a lot of people around the world.  I’m sure Arrington wouldn’t disagree with that.

Technorati – I’m kind of torn on this one.  It’s definitely not a “must have”, and I’m almost thinking it falls under the not relevant category.  It’s original intention was for real time blog search, but I’m not sure that’s what technorati is used for.  It has a lot of content from various blogs and has a lot of its own original content.  It’s borderline a content farm.  Google has its own blog search engine and again Twitter & Facebook have taken over where people get their content from.  Do I think arrington still uses technorati?  My guess is no.

WordPress – The platform that currently powers  Is it a must have? Abso-freaking-lutely.   I honestly don’t know what I would do without wordpress.  It’s easy to use, it’s customizable and it’s robust for power users.  It’s up there with Dropbox.  I wasn’t using it in 2005, but I can imagine it has approved greatly in 5 years.  Arrington: Spot on.

Yahoo Maps –   This one actually confuses me as why Arrington chose this one over Google Maps.  I originally thought that the only reason he chose this one was because Google Maps wasn’t “invented” yet.  But, alas I was wrong.  Google Maps was launched in February of 2005, thus giving Arrington almost 10 months to use it.  I distinctly remember when Google maps was originally launched, it killed the competition in terms of user interface with their slick Ajax usage.    In terms of relevance, this one is definitely not relevant.  It’s used by people who don’t know any better and just get directed their because their homepage is .

Follow the author on twitter @robbieab.  For up to the minute startup news – follow us on twitter @startupfoundry

Weekly Reader Question: What’s the difference between a “startup” and a “company”?

I’ve been blown away by the quality of comments on The Startup Foundry, so I’ve decided to start a weekly question that allows us to harness this great community’s insight. If it’s well received, we will make this a weekly occurrence.

What’s the difference between a “startup” and “company”? More specifically, when do you think a startup should start calling itself a company? Should it be profitable? Perhaps it’s more of an art then a science, more qualitative then quantitative?

What do you think? Please sound off in the comments.

Startup Toolbox, a resource for startups.

I’ve had several readers ask me what services and software they should use to build their startups. I asked the HN community for input and then I created this list. This list will help you get your startup up in running in no time. If you have any more suggestions for apps, please list them in the comments.

Measure everything you can.
Get Clicky – provides valuable real time information and analytics. @getclicky
Mixpanel: for specific analytics and metrics. @mixpanel
Visual Website Optimizer Really easy and powerful A/B testing @wingify
Google Analytics Free enterprise grade web analytics.

Stay connected with your customers and clients by keeping a company blog.
WordPress Host your own blog or go to to get a hosted one @wordpress
Tumblr Another great blogging platform, but you can’t self host.@tumblr
Posterous If you can email, you can blog. @posterous

Billing / Invoicing:
Billing and Invoicing can suck up a lot of time. It could be more efficient to let a trusted 3rd party do it for you.
Recurly Managing recurring payments @recurly
Chargify Helping over 3,600 merchants manage recurring billing @chargify
Freshbooks Track time, organize expenses and invoice clients @freshbooks

Email handling:
Email is critical to your startup. These are some of our favorite companies that handle email.
Mailchimp Really easy to use service for email newsletters etc.@mailchimp
Sendgrid Email Delivery. Simplified. Increased deliverability, APIs, & analytics. @sendgrid
Google Apps for your domain Powerful communication tools – all hosted by Google

Prototyping and Mockups:
Design before you build. Use your blueprint.
Balsamiq Rapid Wireframing Tool @balsamiq
mocksup Quick and easy mockups @mocksup
jMockups High fidelity mockups in a fraction of the time compared to Photoshop @jMockups
Mockingbird create, link together, preview, and share mockups of your app @gomockingbird

Hosting and Database:
When you hit the front page of Reddit, you can’t afford to have your app buckle under the pressure.
Mediatemple We use these guys for hosting. They’re fantastic. @mediatemple
Linode For hosting or Amazon EC2 @linode
Amazon AWS Scalable services in the cloud
Heroku If you’re using RoR, use this @heroku
Expandrive – Ridiculously simple online storage – SFTP/FTP as a network drive@expandrive

Remote Office:
Your team isn’t always in the same location. Use these apps to stay in sync.
Flowdock Google Wave done right. @flowdock
Pivotal Tracker Agile project management: @pivotaltracker
Go Plan Project management: @Goplan
Github For source control and wikis @github
Yammer To communicate with your teammates @yammer
Basecamp One of the best online project collaboration tools @basecampnews

Customer Support:
Keep your customers happy
Get Satisfaction Measuring value from social media shouldn’t be hard @getsatisfaction
Tender For support / help desk @tenderapp
Pingdom Uptime and latency monitoring for your servers. @pingdom
Geckoboard Real-time status board serving up the indicators that matter to you. @geckoboard

Thanks to our community for helping to build this great list. If you have any more suggestions for apps, please list them in the comments.

HN: We’re creating a “Startup toolbox”. What apps should go in it?

I’ve had several readers write to me asking what tools I recommend using to build a startup. My answers are typically along the lines of:

Mass Emails: Mailchimp
Hosted Email: Google Apps for Business
Hosting: MediaTemple
Web Analytics: Google Analytics
Mockups: Photoshop (or Pixelmator for really tight budgets)

I’m still discovering great apps every day and I thought I would create a toolbox for startups that are still getting their feet wet up and running in no time. I would love to leverage the community’s input before I publish the “Startup Toolbox” next week and I was curious if you would be willing to share what tools your startup uses with me.

My plan is to contact the companies that make the apps and try to strike a deal with them to get a price break for startups that come from the “Startup Toolbox”. Admittedly this is dependent upon the developers, but I promise I will do my best to convince them. Worst case scenario we have a great index of apps for startups to get up and running with. We’d love to be able to promote great apps (and developers) while making life a little easier for startups too.

If you have other ideas I can also be reached on twitter or via email (