Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yokel in Wall Street Journal

Search Engines Help Shoppers To Buy Locally
December 21, 2006; Page B1

Now that shoppers are accustomed to scouring the Web for the best prices on everything from TV sets to handbags, a new breed of search engine aims to help them figure out which local stores have the goods in stock.

Last week, a company called NearbyNow began offering shoppers at three malls in California and one in Arizona a chance to check merchandise availability at most of the malls' stores by sending text messages from their cellphones. A similar service called Slifter, from GPShopper Inc., focuses on the availability of electronics and toys at big chains like Best Buy Co. and Staples Inc. Other companies, including Google Inc., are building networks to help shoppers figure out what's at local stores before they get there.

For some shoppers, the services have come in handy. Kharlo Barcenas, a 24-year-old construction-project engineer, says he used NearbyNow's service to quickly locate an Oakland As baseball cap at the Eastridge mall in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday. Since hearing about Slifter at a party in the spring, Jacob Silberstein, a 33-year-old legal recruiter from Queens, N.Y., has used it to buy a router at Circuit City and an iPod armband and a "Lord of the Rings" DVD set at Best Buy. "Some people see it and immediately get it," he says, noting that he has introduced the service to a half-dozen friends.

Online local searches have been around for a while, but they have been hit or miss, largely because inventory information at the store level is hard to get. A site called, for example, does a far better job of finding merchandise in its hometown of Boston than elsewhere around the country. Yokel Inc. Chief Executive Scott Randall says it will take a year for the company to cover the nation's 25 top metropolitan areas as well as the service covers Boston. And, one of the largest local shopping sites, plans to overhaul its site early next year to better highlight the local offerings it gathers from newspaper advertising circulars. Right now, those offerings are often mixed in with online deals.

It's been especially hard to collect information about designer clothes. In January, a site called plans to launch such a service. The hitch: It will focus on small designers and boutiques that are willing to participate because they need the exposure.

Some major retail chains that let customers check inventories at local stores on their own Web sites are also starting to share that information with search engines. And Google is working with Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Inc., Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to make those chains' inventories more accessible online. Over the past year, its Google Base and Froogle Local programs have also amassed local inventory feeds from smaller businesses. Best Buy is involved because "it's really a convenience factor" for shoppers, says Rose Hamilton, the company's director of online marketing.

But a number of retailers, including some luxury stores, apparel chains, jewelers and supermarkets, aren't enthusiastic about making the information available. One reason is that the searches list prices, sometimes side by side with lower prices available online. Gap Inc. has "no immediate plans to implement it for a variety of reasons," says spokesman Alex Clark, adding that "there are some logistical difficulties to say the least."

NearbyNow was able to persuade retailers at the four malls it covers to participate in part because it shows only local results, says Scott Dunlap, founder and CEO of the Mountain View, Calif., company. By this time next year, he expects the service, which is free to shoppers, to be available for at least 100 malls. "It's a big hit with the teen 'mall rat' demographic" and chains like American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and Hot Topic Inc., Mr. Dunlap says. He adds that NearbyNow plans to offer information about new merchandise and markdowns starting this spring. "These kids do everything on their phones," he notes. American Eagle had no comment. Hot Topic didn't return phone calls seeing comment.

Companies eager to win more Web exposure for their products are helping to nudge the process along. Microsoft Corp., Eastman Kodak Co. and Intel Corp., which track inventories at some smaller retailers, are feeding the data to Channel Intelligence Inc., Channel says. The Celebration, Fla., company says it also collects local inventory information from chains like RadioShack Corp. and CompUSA. Channel then passes the data on to companies like CNET Networks Inc., a tech-oriented shopping-comparison site, and GPShopper.

GPShopper's Slifter service, which is aimed at techies and videogame enthusiasts, covers about 50 million products at 15,000 retail locations, GPShopper CEO Alex Muller says. He aims to expand into sporting goods, apparel and cosmetics. Other companies see an opportunity to publish data from smaller mom-and-pop stores. Over the past three years, StepUp Commerce Inc., based in San Francisco, has built a roster of about 5,000 small retailers that mainly sell appliances, furniture, high-end electronics and other items that aren't easily shipped. StepUp was recently acquired by Intuit Inc., which in October began including the local search service as an option in its Quickbook accounting packages.

At Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters LLC in San Francisco, year-over-year sales of rods, reels, waders and other gear have jumped nearly 50% since the shop began using the new service, says owner Josh Frazier.

But even Google hasn't always had an easy time collecting data. "It's evangelism and education more than trying to sell them anything," says Shailesh Rao, the director of local search for the Mountain View, Calif., company.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Business Networking is EXPLODING!

As you all know, our friends at Fast Pitch! www.fastpitchonline have become a premiere destination for business professionals looking to market and network their business.

Over the past month, they have climbed the charts, and are now one of the top 20,000 websites (based on last month's traffic). This is an amazing milestone, even if business networking is the hottest thing on the web today. Check out Fast Pitch! traffic exploding on the right - Courtesy of Alexa Rankings.

Another light was casted on this new market by Business 2.0 this week, when they featured LinkedIn (one of the leaders in business networking) - and wrote a very informative article about the expected growth in this space.

A great quote by Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn and infamous founder of Paypal which was sold to eBay for 1.5B) talks about the difference between social networking and business networking on the web - "Once we get them, we can keep them from the age of 25 to 65, the time when people are most valuable, when they are out changing the world," Hoffman says. "I want to be the service for them."

Hoffman refers to the massive trend of Social Networking sites like FaceBook and mySpace, and why business networking should reach a higher plane on the web.

Were are excited to see whats around the corner for Fast Pitch! and this market.

Friday, November 03, 2006

FastPitch kicks into High Gear

FastPitch ( kicked into high gear this week. They launched a new marketing service for their customer base, and is being featured in a variety of publications and websites.

Check out this PODCAST interview with PR Web Download Podcast

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Web 2.0 - Where is the Business model?

As many of you know, there is a second generation of web-based businesses that are making the dreams of .com boom a reality. What is different? Well actually... not much. Many of the concepts that are proven to be successful in capturing buzz today, were available in the late '90s. For example, Skype (an internet-based VOIP service) is not the first to market. There were a series of Internet Phone products prior to Skype. Companies like FaceBook, mySpace and other social networking companies are not exactly "new" either. There were many websites that allowed you to join communities and post your thoughts. But again, they weren't able to capture the attention of the mass market. I am sure some of it is due to timing, and the lessons learned from Web 1.0... but I question whether we have actually followed through with the most important lesson of Web 1.0 - where is the revenue coming from?

When I look at the overwhelming success UGC (user generated content) sites over the past few years (Digg with news, FaceBook with college kids, mySpace with ???) - I see the classic paradigm of the Internet. You can deploy a great service to lure the masses, but once you try to monetize the user base - you put at risk the user experience that made you popular in the first place. The idea of the "Free Internet" has been the limiting factor for many great ideas. Once something isn't free, it becomes yesterday's news. We saw this phenomenon happen in browser wars, P2P file sharing and of course to web-sites today.

So the question is - Can you monetize the masses? The lazy entrepreneur would quickly shout out "Advertising". But I question the viability of this as a revenue model. Sure, you can make money throwing up some banners and pay-per-click ads on the right side (ala Google). But in reality - even websites with thousands of visitors find it hard to turn traffic into real money. Why? Two reasons. First, the top 100 sites on the web dominate the ad budgets. 90% of the money being spent on "premium advertising" is going to a very small percentage of web publishers. Second, the mass market is not advertising yet. Much like only the top websites get the big as dollars, only the big advertisers are making massive ad buys. So even though you seen billions of dollars being spent on internet advertising, the money is going back and forth between the people who live at the top of the mountain.

So that leaves the other option - Pay-Per-Click advertising. Forget trying to tap into the budgets of the big advertisers and leverage a channel like Google Ad Words or Yahoo Overture. Unfortunately, the picture becomes more bleak. First of all, these guys pay out a very small percentage to their publishers. The model is completely in their favor. They are selling an over-priced ad to an ad buyer, and delivering the ad to a new channel at no cost... and when someone clicks on the ad they take a small percentage and pay for the right to show ads on your site. In my opinion, the cost/value proposition is inverted, and some degree mis-represented to both the advertiser and web publisher. Without digressing into a rant against these guys, I just summarize in saying "Pay Per Click" as a revenue model is a nice way to get beer money from your popular blog, but it is not a revenue model.

So - how are all these Web 2.0 companies going to make money? In my mind - there are only two paths. The first path is to build a large enough base of users and either partner with one of the big guys. For example, YouTube became the dominating force in online video - but I question they could ever monetize their traffic on ads alone. When Google bought them, it gives them the foundation to build a revenue model. If YouTube stayed independent, they would be forced to insert ads into videos (which would destroy the user experience) or charge a ridiculous amount of money for those 2 or 3 banner ads (which would barely cover their bandwidth costs). As part of the Google family, they are simply another block of content that will be distributed through their heavily traffic ad-supported network.

The second path to money for these companies - is to build a community of buyers and sellers. What do I mean? Well, look at some of the examples we have talked about. FaceBook and mySpace - clear leaders in the online community space, but not a community of buyers and seller (yet). Today, its a bunch of kids building content, and sharing thoughts and ideas (and of course pictures of them getting wasted at the football game). They are not selling anything, and no one is really looking to buy. It is simply a social community. Look at YouTube, same thing.

So what do I mean by community of buyers and sellers? It is a business network. Where people become part of the community with the desire to do business (either act as a buyer or seller). A classic example of this - is eBay. eBay was the first example of how you can build a community that has mass appeal, and attract users who are looking to transact, and not just post content or chat.

Another example (which I have a personal bias for since I am an investor) is FastPitch. FastPitch is a destination for small businesses to share leads, market their business and network within their own communities. FastPitch drives revenue through premium membership services that allow small businesses to extend their web marketing and highlight their business in the online community. There is a clear value proposition for a fair price.

So its time to conclude this blog into a point. My point is this - I think we have learned many lessons, and thus Web 2.0 is definitely a stronger, faster, better Internet - but I still feel it has some "bugs" - so I encourage everyone to avoid buying into the "vision" of Pay-Per-Click Internet - because it will eventually be revealed as what it is - high-cost, low value web-based version of classified ads. I am not saying PPC ads will die - but I hope for everyone's sake that the web publishers take back the wheel - and not let the Google's and Yahoo's of the world monopolize the advertising dollar.

Whatever happens... we can all rest assure that Web 3.0 is right around the corner.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Trials Network Announces Partnership with Clinipace

The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Trials Network (CAPTN), a multi-national network of practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists established in partnership with Duke University and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), has chosen Clinipace's web-based Tempo™ software platform to support its upcoming clinical research projects.

Read Entire Article

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

FastPitch launches Blog

Our friends at FastPitch launched a BLOG. We look forward to some insightful posts on successul marketing.

Check out the BLOG here

Friday, October 20, 2006

VentureCast Announces Video Service for Entrepreneurs

VentureCast, a private network of entrepreneurs and investors who connect online, today announced a new premium service which allows members to upload their video presentations or demonstrations of their products and inventions for other members to view.

Read Entire Release

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yokel - Top 30,000 websites based on traffic

Yokel keeps climbing the charts on increased traffic. This is a big measuring stick for destination web sites. View Alexa Rankings

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Next Destination : Florida Venture Blog by Dan Rua

In our small community of venture capitalists and risk takers in the State of Florida, my friends at Inflexion Partners stand above the rest. A "tip of the hat" to them for investing in PayPerPost - an innovative advertising network based in Maitland. If you could only meet three venture capitalists in Florida, make sure Dan Rua is on the list.

Check out Dan's Florida Venture Blog.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Neighborhood America - Movo Merger Announcement

Neighborhood America Acquires Movo Mobile

Strategic acquisition solidifies Neighborhood America’s market-leading position as provider of enterprise applications for building participatory communities

Naples, Fla. – October 4, 2006 – Neighborhood America announced today that it has successfully completed the acquisition of mobile marketing solutions provider MOVO Mobile. Neighborhood America is the leading provider of solutions that enable customers to build community through enterprise management of structured audience interactions.

Read Entire Press Release

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Clinipace Software To Be Utilized in DoD-Funded Study Of Brain Injuries

Software developed by RTP-based Clinipace will be utilized in a study of brain injuries that is being funded by the Department of Defense.

Banyan Biomarkers, a company based in Florida, is working with the DoD on the study. Banyan will utilize applications from Clinipace that were developed for use with data gathered through clinical trials.

Banyan is studying biomarkers found in patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury.

Clinipace software will be used to capture and manage data collected at several clinical trial sites over the next three years. The software is web-based.

Check out the News Story

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sarasota Tech Conference... Success!

The 2006 Sarasota / Manatee Technology Conference is the first of its kind on the Gulf Coast and boasts a slate of high-level speakers whose expertise range from Web marketing to manufacturing. The conference will focus on how businesses within the Gulf Coast region and around the world integrate technology to improve efficiency, processes and sales. Official Website of Sarasota Tech Conference.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

CFO Magazine - Real Digital Media

Read the latest article in CFO Magazine about Digital Signage (and reference to Real Digital Media's customer UPS).

Read the Full Article

Friday, September 01, 2006

Startup Florida welcomes Star2Star

Star2Star is an Internet Phone Service Provider that is providing world-class service to small businesses around the nation. We are excited to have them as neighbors. Visit their website.

FastPitch signs Manhattan Chamber on Online Networking

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, which represents over 100,000 businesses recently partnered with Fast Pitch!, creator of the innovative ONLINE networking platform, to provide it’s members with a new way to network from their office using a computer and telephone. The Fast Pitch ONLINE event format, which was designed to help business professionals promote their company, uses web-casting technology to allow people to actively ‘pitch’ their business to more people in less time. Read More.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

MobileSecure acquires Highwall Technologies

MobileSecure (a mobile security company) based in Boston, MA has acquired Highwall Technologies LLC.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 Traffic breaks top 50,000 websites on the Internet is climbing the traffic rankings. For more details check out Alexa Rankings. Yokel is currently ranked 33,067 in traffic rankings over past three months, but has gone as high as top 10,000.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Real Digital Media Teams with AccuWeather to Provide Rich Localized Media Content for Digital Signage

Network operators using Real Digital Media’s NEOCAST® digital signage solution now gain access to AccuWeather news, sports and weather content.

View Entire Press Release

Monday, July 31, 2006

Movo partners with Neighborhood America

Founded in 1999, Neighborhood America is built on the premise that meaningful interaction drives value for your organization.

NA provides customers software-as-a-service solutions for capturing customer feedback. Read More about Neighborhood America here.

Connections Canada (CCi) partners with RDM to bring solutions to Canada

Real Digital Media (RDM), a leading provider of next generation digital signage products for establishing point-of-purchase marketing, promotions and corporate communication networks, today announced a partnership with Connections Canada (CCi), a firm that specializes in the delivery of retail automation products and value added services to the Canadian marketplace.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

News - Isobar Mobile to bring Movo Mobile’s Agency Platform to Clients

Movo partners with leading interactive ad agency Isobar.

Isobar is one of the world's largest interactive agencies with more than twenty offices around the globe. With North American headquarters based in Boston, MA, Isobar has six additional offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Dallas. Isobar is owned by Aegis MEDIA, the world's largest independent media agency with more than $15 billion in worldwide billings. Isobar's clients include Pfizer, Hyundai, RadioShack, Ofoto, and PalmOne, among others. For more information on services, go to

Article - Yokel Aims for Local Shopping Search Niche publised an article on

"E-commerce has been going for 10 years plus now and what's interesting is that still 97 percent of stuff gets bought off-line," co-founder and CEO Scott Randall said. "People want to research it online, but they want to go to the store, see it, touch it and feel it before they buy it in a lot of cases."

Article - in Search Engine Lowdown

Yokel is featured on Search Engine Lowdown website. Good article explaining the current state of Yokel and the road map ahead.

This is my favorite quote from the author - "Notice something missing from Google and Yahoo? That's right. They're called relevant results." He is commenting on the fact Yokel delivers superior results for product and store searches over and above Google and Yahoo.

News - Clinipace launches another registry

Clinipace Wins National Antiphospholipid Syndrome Registry Managed By UNC-Based Thurston Arthritis Research Center
June 27, 2006
Clinipace, Inc., a software company focused on late-stage clinical research studies and registries today announced its newest academic research center client รข€“ the Antiphospholipid Syndrome Collaborative Registry (APSCORE) managed by investigators at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

View More -

News - Clinipace Off to a Fast Start

Check out Clinipace in Bio-IT world. Good article about the company and the market

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Welcome to the official blog of Startup Florida. The primary goal of this blog is to track news of our portfolio companies for our friends and investors.