Interview with SVP of iBoats.com

There are only a few companies in Utah that are doing more than $10 million in ecommerce revenue annually: one of them is iBoats.com. Here’s a great interview with one of the iBoats.com founders.

Other companies in this category include Backcountry.com, Overstock.com, and Hobbytron.com — these were all internet pureplays. Internet Retailers Top 300 Guide (an excellent resource) also list FranklinCovey, ICON Health & Fitness, and 1-800-CONTACTS as top e-retailers.

If I were a young internet entrepreneur in Utah, I’d first get hired by one of these companies (or anyone in the Top 300 list), preferrably in the marketing or web analytics space, and then, after learning from the best, I’d go out on my own.

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Wired Magazine snippets

Here are some tidbits from the March issue of Wired magazine which I read last night. (I also read the first 60 pages of Innovators Solution by Clayton Christensen–a fantastic book!)

  • NASA has launched World Wind, a mapping software application that draws on 10 terrabytes of satellite data to give you a view of every point on the earth. “Software developers are beginning to integrate RSS feeds into World Wind so its maps can display location-specific news or data in near real-time.” From the NASA web site: “NASA has released World Wind as an open source program to improve its quality through peer review, maximize awareness and impact of NASA research, and increase dissemination of World Wind in support of NASA’s mission.” Implications: This public domain database is enormously valuable and provides a new layer of value in the geographical “application stack” which could be extremely useful for companies who want to overlay data on top of this global public domain database.
  • 1,200 volunteer architects have used meetup.com to work on “Architecture for Humanity” projects (such as tent cities design for disaster relief) which was founded in 1999.
  • Girlslab.com (a Japanese site) surveys are used to help CE companies predict what new products, colors, and fashions will be hot in Japan. Thoughts: I can’t wait for Firepoll.com to launch (I’m on the advisory board) and start providing any company with serious consumer feedback on product ideas and trends.
  • “Phony brand-name items … account for 6 percent of international trade.” (This was from an article on the sham economy in Serbia and Montenegro.) Thoughts: I wonder if RFID will help this, or if RFID will be easy to fake as well.
  • Lawrence Lessig has an interesting article about private and public competition for broadband. Philadelphia almost passed a law making broadband free, but it was defeated by lobbyists for the private sector. Lessig argues that “free wireless access increases the value of public spaces … just as streetlamps do.” He worries that the U.S. has fallen way too far behind in broadband and that private competition hasn’t delivered the goods.
  • Shigeyuki Hori (chief engineer of the Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle) was recognized as a dreamer/maverick who is reinventing business. He “set the hybrid speed record this summer when he got a Prius up to 135 mph at Utah’s Bonneville salt flats. Thoughts: Go Utah.
  • Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm and Handspring, has written a book called “On Intelligence” about how the brain functions. He is going to build a company that will build machines that work the way the human brain works. He thinks they will succeed where AI has failed. “The brain works by making a steady stream of predictions about the state of the world.” Thoughts: another book to buy on Amazon, today.
  • “By January, satellite radio had 4.3 million subscribers.”
  • “Some radio heavyweights are announcing plans to accelerate the conversion of their signals from analog to digital. ”
  • “NPR has promised to convert more than 300 stations to HD radio by 2006.”
  • “Digital audio implies the ability to carry video, software, email, text messages, you name it.”
  • In the future, your radio will “tap into the automobile’s GPS unit, constantly scanning for local traffic reports” and interrupting your music listening when it finds something relevant, meanwhile storing the other broadcast so that you can resume where you left of before the interruption.
  • “As a broadcaster, you make money running a collection of niche stations because targeted ad buys are so much more valuable than nontargeted. Traditional media isn’t a great way to reach fly fishermen or people who are in quilting bees, but niches are.”
  • “The biggest podcast audiences now number in the mere tens of thousands.”
  • PodcastAlley.com “lists the 10 most popular podcasts every day.”

More later …

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Hi5’s Rocket Growth

Today I received an invitation from a friend to join Hi5.com, another social networking site. I just about called it a new site, but it already has 7 million members and it’s Alexa ranking is phenomenal. I declined to join, because it seems to be about friendship and fun, not business networking. I tried Friendster last year and dropped it quickly. The first social networking site I tried was Ryze, and I’ve really never been back. But I’m a LinkedIn.com addict and I can’t wait for them to roll out premium services (I actually want to pay them!) that will help me communicate better with my 290 connections. I’ve been secretly wishing that LinkedIn.com will develop email and voice mail services, including group mail features, that will allow me to break my dependency on Outlook.

But since asking for help last week with managing my contacts in Outlook brought me so much good advice, I might end up being happy with Outlook after all.

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Raising Capital: Can Intermediaries Help?

A friend of mine doesn’t have many angel investor connections so he wants to go through a third-party finding company to locate sources of capital and to set up investor presentations. (His company has been profitable for 6 quarters and is growing steadily.) One of the companies he is considering using is Power Funding Strategies of Scottsdale, AZ. Has anyone heard of them who can comment on their credibility?

Or better yet, have you ever found capital by using a third party intermediary? If so, what can you share about it? Who is good, what are the typical fees, how long does it take?

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