hi, my name is ethan. i post here my random thought of the day.

Posts tagged startups

May 13

Thoughts on Consmr

My friends all know how happy I am to see a service like Consmr to come into existence, mostly because it totally fits into how much time I spend looking for the new product in supermarkets (buying CPG products on Amazon is boring).

Recently they launched their iPhone app and it’s a breeze to use. Scan a barcode and if it’s in the system, you get the product’s reviews and alternative suggestions (the where-you-can-buy-it Nearby function is still lacking however). There is also the “Search” and “Discover” functions where you can browse through CPG categories, as well as other recent “popular” reviews (a bit like the Instagram concept).

What I think is missing in this iteration are two things:

- A to-do list. It simply gets people to open up the app more, providing value even if he is the only person using this service. If you are the non-curious type or the shop-everything-based-on-weekend-paper-coupons type, this app will feel cool for 5 minutes and you’ll forget about it. You don’t care about the ratings for Red Bull, even if it’s rated as a 1 you’ll still get it; or alternatively, you see Monster on sale this week and you’ll get that instead. Ratings don’t matter in this case. But with a to-do list, especially if the to-do list is linked to product suggestions, people at least have to open the app every time they are shopping (bolstering engagement) and the product suggestions will serve as a great platform for future monetization (Hey you want to buy Red Bull? Try the new Monster Lime! - Sponsered by Monster)

- A way to submit reviews via mobile. And I don’t just mean within an app. I think people should be able to submit reviews via SMS, WhatsApp, iMessage, email, app, etc. Basically any channel available should be made available. Because CPG products can be a very at-the-moment thing (you had a bag of chips, hated it and threw it out), by the time you get access to a computer you may completely forget what brand/flavor of chips you just had. How are you going to complain about it? It severely limits the # of reviews the site can get, which happens to be the backbone of the entire service.

Feb 6

Why You Won’t Quit Your Job

  • You’ve been conditioned. Scientists know that the best way to train someone to perform a behavior is to reward them for doing so at random intervals.
  • Your losses are more visible than ever. Ubiquitous connectivity plus social media equals high virality. In other words, news now travels fast. So when your early-stage venture fails, your friends are going to know about it.
  • You suffer from premature optimization. As a whole, the group displayed a distinct preference for hitting just another small milestone, rather than starting from the bottom of a different (but potentially more lucrative) mountain altogether. This strong human bias toward accumulating small wins is what we call progress, but paradoxically, it seems to be inhibiting many individuals from reaching their true potential.

Jan 30

Thoughts on the @Summify acquisition by @Twitter

As a user of Sina Weibo every week I get an email like the one below:

Basically it’s a list of trending stories (instead of topics) on Weibo right now. It also lists 2 top weibos (tweets) over the past week and suggests people I should follow.

I used to be a very disengaged Weibo user. I log in once or twice every few months and hardly ever open the mobile app on my Android. This email, however, has brought me back to the service. I’d click on the stories, maybe then click around to watch a few videos, etc. It doesn’t make me an everyday user but at least I do have this service in the back of my mind when I have some time to kill.

And I think this is a model for an opportunity for Twitter to use to bolster user engagement, and where Summify could help. Judging by the people I follow, I estimate 20 - 30% have not updated their statuses since a few days after they signed up. They probably haven’t discovered how useful Twitter could be, and will not without an external nudge (ie friend’s suggestion, email reminder, reading on news, etc). Summify, as it’s already a great product, could provide the algorithm for this missing external link. For example, an user from NYC may get an email or two with “top trending stories in NYC that broke on Twitter” or “what people around town are saying” sort of thing. As new user signups invariably slow as Twitter grows, attracting disengaged existing users back to the service is one of the best way to expand the service.

Jan 18

Some thoughts on Path

I’ve been playing with Path (or Path 2) for the past week and am really enjoying the experience. The app is slick, well designed and covers pretty much everything I do on a normal day, so it’s very easy to use it as a personal diary sort of device (more than the location diary that Foursquare tracks).

For what it’s worth, Path could easily have been Google+. Both are actually built on the same concept (sharing with a specific group of people). I’ve found that my addiction to Path is very similar to my early addiction to Google+, before it slowly phased out. I think the Google team recognized the same thing, which is why they offered $100+M for the service.

So what makes Path different?

- Better app. It’s a joy just to look at Path … while Google+ doesn’t even run on my phone (ICS on Nexus S).

- It feels personal. The Going to Sleep / I’m Awake trigger is probably unnecessary for most, but it gives the service a very personal touch. I use it to learn today’s weather. Google+, on the other hand, is running somewhere between Twitter and Facebook (great concept) but it precisely doesn’t give me a reason to use it (because I follow everyone on Twitter and Facebook).

- The sync functions. I can use Path as a gateway to broadcast my activities to the world via sync (Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, etc). It actually is one of the easiest way to update statuses on multiple social networks, and that alone is of huge value. With Google+, you are limited to the Google Network which currently has huge membership counts but no engagement.

- It doesn’t fuck around with my Contacts. Seriously Google, keep the Circles away from my Contact please.

- I’m sure there are other reasons. I will update if/when Google+ actually runs on my phone :)