Tracking Hot Topics in the Blogosphere

My Junto friends told me today about Blogpulse.com, which has a trend feature to show you how many bloggers are talking about certain topics over time. Here’s a two-month chart on the phrase “Google maps.”

Now someone needs to combine this buzz-measurement tools with something like Google Alerts, so that if certain keywords start getting blogged about a great deal, that I will be notified and get links to the key posts of the thought leaders. If you kick off a viral campaign and try to get bloggers to cover your topic, Blogpulse would be a great way to measure your success.

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Idea Stage Startup Funding

I frequently complain about the lack of idea or seed stage funding available for Utah entrepreneurs. Sometimes, especially in the open source software era, and in era of internet marketing, a venture can be started with just a few thousand dollars. (FundingUtah.com cost only $2,000 to launch phase I. We’re now finishing phase II and working on a couple possible revenue streams. We also own 70 more domains, so that if this site works in Utah, we may roll it out elsewhere. We already have more than 100 entrepreneurs and 49 angels signed up, representing almost $30 million in available funds.) There has never been a better time in history to start a company.

Phil Windley blogged this week about a program back east called Summer Founders. He said he wished we had something like that in Utah. I checked it out and it looks way cool. Back in Cambridge, MA there are 4 guys who have started a seed stage fund called Y Combinator. Their summer program is designed to provide seed capital to entrepreneurs (hackers mainly) who might be able to make a go of a company if they had a little financial support.

But Phil, we have Junto here in Utah, thanks to Greg Warnock.

I think Junto is structurally superior to the very laid back Summer Founders program. You end up with a team of five who are committed and incentivized to help each other succeed, each with their startup company. I attended a Firepoll advisory board meeting today with Greg and the five Junto entrepreneurs (and Craig Bott from Grow Utah Ventures, a $5 million private VC fund). There is a lot of energy there and I think we’ll see some great entrepreneurial developments coming from these groups. I applaud Greg for his vision and his willingness to teach young college grads to take the entrepreneurial path.

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Stock Options Vesting Based on Milestones, Not Calendar Months

The Entrepreneur’s Manual has another powerful idea, one that I have never seen implemented. In all my years of working in and around high tech companies, I can’t think of a single one that has ever rewarded employees and teams with stock options based on achieving milestones; rather, all the options plans I have ever seen are based on a 3-4 year vesting schedule. As long as you don’t get fired, you get the stock, month after month.

Richard White says the best way to grant stock to employees is when they achieve pre-set milestones. One milestone might be shipping a quality product. 50,000 shares are issued. Another might be getting 2% market penetration. Another 50,000 shares. Then getting to positive cash flow for 3 consecutive months: 100,000 shares. Minimum profits of $100,000 per quarter: another 100,000 shares. Raising outside capital and making a competitive acquisition could have shares assigned to it. Every major and even minor milestone has some shares assigned to them.

Every milestone reached would result in shares being issued and divided among employees based on pre-determined ratios. If a company achieved all of its major milestones in the first year then the employees would celebrate having the entire stock option pool vested in one year–instead of four–but the investors should be happy too because the company reached all of its objectives much more quickly than they had expected.

I’ve got to learn more about this concept and whether it is used anymore. I love the idea of motivating teams to achieve results and not just pass time.

Who knows anything about this kind of stock option plan?

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Getting on the GSA Schedule

A friend of mine wants to get his web application listed on the GSA Schedule so he can sell to federal customers. There are apparently 8,600 approved vendors on the GSA Schedule. I found this link to the GSA web site, with typically hard-to-understand instructions.

Do any of my readers know the fastest way to get approved by GSA to sell to government agencies and federal customers?

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The Entrepreneur’s Manual

As a huge fan of The Entrepreneur’s Manual published in 1977, I’ve been wondering what happened to the author Richard M. White. This morning I received an email from a friend who found a 1995 San Jose Mercury news article that says Rich White passed away from cancer in 1995, five years after being diagnosed. Rich was born in North Carolina, received his business degree from Notre Dame, and spent his life starting companies and then helping others learn how to succeed in business. Chilton Publishing sold more than 300,000 copies of his book. This must qualify The Entrepreneurs Manual as one of the best selling books on entrepreneurship in history. I have seen reports that E-Myth and E-Myth Revisited have sold more than 250,000 copies since it was first published in 1986. Both are essential reading for entrepreneurs.

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Yahoo Buys Flickr; IAC Buys Ask Jeeves

Jerry Yang announced Yahoo’s acquisition of Flickr and Barry Diller’s IAC pays $1.8 billion for AskJeeves. IAC also launched Gifts.com, which combined with AskJeeves gets IAC quickly into the ecommerce and comparison shopping space. The Gifts.com backend database could easily be used to launch a Froogle or Shopping.com-like service as well.

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MyFamily.com CEO Departs

Dick Eastman has reported that Tom Stockham has left MyFamily.com where he has served as CEO for 3 1/2 years. I enjoyed working with Tom for several months. He always treated the MyFamily.com founders (including those who had been asked to leave earlier) with tremendous respect. He is a good man and a friend and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

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Has This Page Been Indexed by Google?

Have you ever wondered if a particular page on your web site has been indexed by Google so that Google users can find it?

It’s easy to find out. Here’s how:

1. Download the Google toolbar (if you haven’t already.)2. Under options, click Page Info Menu.3. Now, go to any web page.4. Use the Page Info Button on the toolbar menu (the blue circle with an “i” inside) and select “Cached Snapshot of Page”

If Google has already indexed this page, you’ll see a snapshot of what the page looked like when it spidered your site.

If Google has not indexed this page, you’ll get a message like this:

Your search – cache:http://www.worldhistory.com/shop/index.php – did not match any documents.

Worldhistory.com has started adding ecommerce products (such as flags from various countries) to its new shopping cart. But it turns out that Google hasn’t yet indexed the main shopping page or any of the product pages.

So, now I need to get one or more high quality links to the world history shopping page so that Google will follow those links and add these quality pages and products to their index. With a few good links, it should happen within a month at the most. (It often happens within a day or two)

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