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Questions

What do you attribute your current succeses to?

Asked by:
Ling Lee
Ling Lee at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Ling,I believe my success comes from personal drive and passion. I've always been an idea guy (I have more than I could accomplish in a lifetime). This is why I want to start building teams.I think my artistic side has pushed my creativity to new levels. I also attribute training my mind with freestyle hip-hop (for faster mental connections) and learning about vastly different topics (particle physics, cooking, music, programming and more).I also find that continuing to watch cartoons help me think better about "the impossible". Cartoons aren't limited by physical constraints and because of that they open your mind to further possibilities. The best way to foster imagination and creativity are like any other skills you must work at building them on a daily basis.Also understanding when you achieve your personal "flow", which I could never describe as well as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (in his books Flow or Creativity). Basically there are certain times of the day (which vary for everyone) in which you get "into the zone" mentally. Hours seem like minutes or minutes seem like hours. You basically feel that your brain is performing optimally. My peak flow hours for better or worse happen between 1 AM - 4 AM in my local time zone. I try to be awake for those hours when possible and am ready to write down any and all ideas.I also attribute my success as what other have poured into me over the years which is why I like to give back with mentoring and training others. I want to keep the cycle going. More than anything I chalk up my success to a divine blessing. I just try to do good with the ideas I have and hope that the outcomes are useful and beneficial to others.Thanks for the great question.
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Questions

How did you get into Startup Chucktown?

Hi Jeff! I was curious how you got the idea into starting Startup Chucktown? What inspired you? read more

Asked by:
Ling Lee
Ling Lee at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Ling,Thanks for asking. I moved to the area (Charleston, South Carolina, USA) for a full-time job. When I arrived in the area, I had already been working on several side projects. I connected with who would eventually become my co-founder on Twitter several months after being here.I got the idea for Startup Chucktown after looking around at the local startup resources and being disappointed that all most all of them only focused on technology startups (a very small portion of the overall startup ecosystem). I wanted to create a platform/resource that would benefit all entrepreneurs and startups regardless of their industry. I toyed around with other names (Holy City Startups and Silicon Harbor Startups) Holy City and Silicon Harbor both being other monikers for the area. I don't agree with "Silicon X" derivatives as they don't really give a unique identity to the area. Startup Chucktown stuck and it became a project to see if me and the new co-founder worked well together.It seemed like a good partnership and our content started getting noticed (I attribute this to our all inclusive entrepreneurial approach). Since we started more things have sprung up but they still mostly focus on technology. We believe in our product and the responses we get are why we continue to look at ways to improve and adapt our content.My inspiration is that my startup aspirations span multiple industries: technology, music, food, liquor, writing, physical consumer goods and digital products. We also are targeting 3D printing and open hardware. If all goes well, we also want to open the first all inclusive coworking facility in the area. We want to blend shared office space, a commercial kitchen, 3D printing and open hardware lab as well as a full machine shop. We have large aspirations.
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Questions

Is offline UX getting more attention from corporations?

Asked by:
Yee Trinh
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
By offline do you mean in retail or physical stores? If you do, the answer is probably yes although I feel that online User Experience is catching up. I would label offline UX as IUE (Immersive User Experience) because you can control and adapt to a customers many senses to create a good environment for catalyzing the sale. Online I would a new acronym is probably more descriptive than UX and that would be CUX (Customer User Experience) I see this as a blending of customer service and user experience.More companies are starting to higher people to guide and improve their User Experience for customers, however, many establish companies are adopting it at a slower pace than startups and small businesses. This is puzzling because many established companies need a lot more help because they have a much larger backlog of things that need improved and resolved.One reason I believe UX is not being adopted more quickly at companies is they don't truly understand the value that these professionals add. Many can do front-end development work as well as design and usability work. Also, UX practitioners can help make improvements based on customer feedback and professional best practices to reduce or eliminate issues before they are ever developed or delivered to production. It is between 10 to 100 times more costly (when you consider all the effort and hours) to fix things after they have been released. So, by working with UX designers you can save money up front by not having more issues to resolve later.I have experienced first hand many times that once a developer, business analyst or project manager see the results firsthand they are much more willing to work with UX professional in the future.
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Questions

What is your take in regards to neuromarketing as an advertising technique?

Do you agree that brain science and marketing really works? Have you applied it? read more

Asked by:
Steve Osborne
Steve OsborneOwner at Smarthinking
My take is that neuromarketing is less an advertising technique than a market research measurement tool. Whether the science of studying brain patterns in response to marketing stimuli works or not is a moot point. You either interpret the measurements or you don't. Various measuring tools have been applied for decades and will continue to be applied for as long as anyone is interested in consumer behaviour and responses.
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I may be incorrectly interpreting what you are asking, so please correct me if that is the case.I'm not certain about brain science and marketing, but cognitive psychology and marketing are powerful combinations. That is why many things are priced like this, $19.99 instead of $20. Monetarily there is almost no difference, especially when you factor in that after taxes it is going to be over $20 either way.Also, consumers fall into odd behavior patterns with things like coupons. If I have a retail store and I'm selling a sweater for $35 and no one is buying it, I can add a sale or coupon (in what can sometimes border on manipulation of varying degrees. What if I mark the sweater up to $42 but it's now 20% off (well logically that put the price at $33.60 less than $2 off the original $35 price) but people think they are getting an outrageous deal.I think online retail is harder to up the experience (at least in terms of physical presence). If I have a physical store, I can change the signage, lightening or even the scent in the store to try to help create an inviting environment. However, online that isn't really an option (but many online stores vary their pricing throughout the day, or offer coupon codes to only specific geographic areas).I think it is possible to use, cognitive psychology to affect the outcomes of both brick and mortar and online stores. I would like to believe it is being used to benefit the consumer, but most of the time that isn't true.I do apply cognitive psychology in my designs, but in less ominous ways. The branding (colors, fonts, layout) all can impact the mood of the user. Trying to create an experience that a demographic of users would enjoy and appreciate is always a good thing. I do occasionally test out different calls to action or imagery, but often ask for feedback from users and peers.I believe that consumers appreciate a company that has a valuable product or service, is transparent about how they are operate, and that they value their customers. Online resources have made comparing you against your competition very easy, and if they were only for a better deal, they can easily jump to one. All it takes to lose a customer is one bad experience (but that is the same for your competition). Focus on delivering great products, with great customer service and be wiling to adapt based on your customer needs rather than business goals (after all without your customers you wouldn't be in business).People don't like feeling tricked by a company (I know I sure don't). So if you wouldn't be your own customer (if you didn't work there) chances are you need to make some adjustments.
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Questions

Do you have good "before and after" examples of websites that have undergone user experience optimisation?

What were the key differences (include stats if possible) as a result of it? read more

Asked by:
Phil Khor
Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Great question.I have never worked on this website personally, but Amazon is a great example. If you use an online tool called The Way Back Machine (its like a visual internet archive) you can see what their website looked like when they first launched. It was dreadful (as most websites were in the early to mid 90s).Once Amazon started selling more than books, their site quickly got a lot more "noisy" both in the amount of navigation and products to filter through.After several iterations their design team created an optimal checkout paradigm (the 1-click checkout for signed in users). They went so far as to file trademarks and patents around the process. By lowering the barrier to checkout for frequent users they made impulse buying much easier (for better or worse on our bank accounts).There was a second combination that become the knockout punch for online buying. It was the algorithm they created to display products other people bought (or ones you previously looked at) next to what you were about to add to your cart. This can get a bit creepy at times, but it lead to much higher conversion rates. I don't have specific stats on it, but this has become a pattern on other ecommerce websites as well.As a bonus, in the Search world, I think that is why Google as a late arrival to the Search game compared to (AOL, Excite, Lycos, Yahoo, etc.) was able to disrupt them. All the other search engines at the time had very busy page layouts with much too much taking the focus off of search. Google came on the scene and only put their name and the search field. This seemed contrary to all rivals but it worked brilliantly.This is because sometimes being a service that does 1 thing extremely well, is much more beneficial than trying to be all things to all groups of people.
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Questions

How does one go about creating a website that has the best user experience?

Most of us understand the value of good UX (user experience), but what are the key elements / steps... read more

Asked by:
Phil Khor
Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Phil,This is a great question. UX has gotten much more visible and I'm very grateful that it has. There are many elements that aren't given time because they aren't immediately obvious when reviewing a site or application.A good workflow is the number one thing I try to understand, absorb and resolve. The first problem is that many people want solutions without taking the time to find the true root cause of the user's frustration. Updating the branding (aesthetics) can help, but if it doesn't address workflow and tasks, the benefit will be short-lived.I like to use hand sketches or simple box drawings to have a user walk me through their actual task. If what I've created doesn't match their expectations, I need to get a better understanding of what they are trying to accomplish. I also need to know why they are trying to do it that way (to see if it is a valid task or a work around they've figured out). Then I will take their feedback and make adjustments.Large issues can start from small things such as button names that are misleading or confusing (or even the order of the buttons). It could just be that information isn't grouped logically on the page as expected. Once you get a workflow ironed out, the layout, graphics and visual interaction (animation or feedback) can be addressed.This is key to understanding, a bad design or interface will be lampooned and complained about endlessly. It isn't often that a great design is praised (usually not hearing complaints means you are doing well). You can look at things like how much negative feedback were you getting verses how much you receive currently. You can also look at things like click through rates and other metrics to make some choices. Asking users will always get you some feedback (both usable and unusable).You can also A/B test small things on a page such as button colors or names, graphics vs. photos or more imagery vs. text heavy. Watching how users respond to those things can give you a lot more insight. If you can test with users on sight, do it. Watching them will not always line up with their feedback. They may say something was easy (but you could see them struggle with it for minutes).Involving your users will engage them more. Users like to see that their feedback is being considered or applied. Why not share updates with the users in an email blast or on a company blog? Transparency is always appreciated. When users know you are trying to make their experience better they will stay. Great customer service will always keep customers happy.In fact in summary, my acronym for good usability, design or anything is: S.E.E. - Service Exceeding Expectations.Thanks for asking.
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Questions

How do you manage to do everything on a typical day?

Hi Jef, just wondering -- how's your usual day like? I can imagine that you are a busy guy. Can you... read more

Asked by:
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Charlene,I'm usually awake for 18 to 20 hours a day. I still have a regular day job (9-5) on top of all my entrepreneurial efforts. When I first wake up in the morning I walk the dog (for exercise and time to think while out in nature).During lunch at my day job, I will write down tasks in either a notebook or in my smart phones reminders or note section. I try to only work on 1 project an evening (I have several concurrent ventures that I'm working on launching). Focus is key. Find a way to track tasks that works for you (whether analog or digital). I also check in with my co-founder on his progress and he checks in on my mine.I do experience burnout once in a while, but I've found that the best way for me to avoid burnout is to take a breather once in a while. I will take 1 week night every week and just come home and relax. This takes off the pressure of coming up with the next breakthrough idea.On my commute home from work I do still freestyle to hip-hop (either directly over tracks on the radio, or to some instrumental hip-hop CDs I have). It really helps your brain think quickly and make connections between the seemingly unconnected.I do still cook several nights a week (not as elaborate as my show) but cooking is relaxing for me and very creative. All my old shows are available online still. If you search for my username NogginFuel or just my name, you'll more than likely find them. If not, contact me directly for the link.I really like to push myself, and honestly a lot of evenings I'm weighing in on ideas friends have or that colleagues have. I not only want to push myself to great heights but bring others along for the ride.I used to think getting to $1 million was the ticket. I've changed that philosophy to, if I can help others become millionaires, I'm probably not doing so badly myself. Thanks for asking
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Questions

How do you determine how much equity to give in the early days of a startup to investors?

Asked by:
Yee Trinh
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Yee,This is a fantastic and difficult question to answer. It's a tricky topic because it has to be judged on an individual basis and agreed to by the team (or at least the majority).Some people may say, take any offer you can get it is better than continuing to bootstrap. I would argue, that may not be the case. When you are bootstrapping you must be more aware of how each dollar is spent. When you get an investment, you may not be as thoughtful or creative on how you stretch the budget.Also, don't just see it as the amount of money they are giving you (in terms of the trade off for equity in your venture). Are they also bringing their knowledge of the business world and making it accessible to you? Are they giving you access and recommendations to their network? The team needs to be comfortable with the percentage of equity for the monetary infusion. Example, if an investor offers $100,000 for 45% of the company's equity some founders may see that as a quick way to grow the business while other founders may balk at giving up such a large percentage of their venture. It is a combination of your team's comfort level, your overall gut reaction and your ability to trust that the investor is trying to better your venture.It really comes down to what the team agrees is a fair or reasonable trade off between the monetary infusion, networking and resources verses losing some control of the overall business. Once again, great question.
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Questions

What are investors looking for in a pitch?

What gets them over the line from being "That's a good idea" to "Here's a cheque for $100,000"? read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Yee,Thanks for asking. I think most startups believe their presentation or "pitch deck" has to wow the investors. But that is not always what draws them in and excites them.Yes, investors want to see that you have an interesting product or service, but it can't end there. They will find accurate numbers interesting, accurate being the key word. If you have a growing number of users show them. But keep in mind they will be interested in knowing how active and engaged to your product or service your users are. If you are constantly gaining new users to replace the ones that aren't staying, they will probably not be very impressed.Another thing they look at is your team dynamics. Do you work well together and share the passion of seeing the venture through and growing it, or are you just a few people that are good at what you individually do? Sometimes investors are more interested in the team you have put together than the idea. They may in fact look to fund you but send you after another idea.This is an extension of the team dynamic, but they may look at your team's experience. Are you all first time founders? They may be a bit more cautious if you are. You can offset this by having a solid set of mentors or board of advisors on your team (even if they don't get involved in the day to day operation).Investors are also looking for honesty. Don't claim you have no competition (they will think you haven't done your research). Don't project overly opportunistic numbers so far out they are meaningless. Keep the numbers you show them honest and use them to your advantage.To sum up I believe investors are looking for:a great product/service or a willingness for the team to transition to a new ideaa team that works well togetherpassion to scale the venture into a sizable companyAnd a bonus is:a great presenter that can sell themselves, the team and the business convincingly
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Questions

What is the process for any startup to raise funds?

Asked by:
Jules Brooke
Jules BrookeFounder and Director at Handle Your Own PR
Whatever type of investor you are chasing (and I loved Jef's answer as it really explains the different options well) I would also suggest that you should try and get some publicity for the business first. It's free if you approach the media yourself (I have to admit that I teach PR to small businesses so I have a subjective perspective!) and the benefits are that it gives credibility to your business and the endorsement of a media outlet can be priceless. It establishes you as a 'real' business for potential investors and somehow implies solidity. If your business is a start up then it is probably offering some sort of innovation, or solving a problem, so use that to make it an interesting story for the metro newspapers to write about. Or go to radio producers and see if you can get an interview.It's a worthwhile exercise if you want to impress the investors!
Marvin minton
Marvin mintoniPhone App Developer at TheAppsmith
I am newbie here and very impressed to read this questions and the answer given by Jef is very informative for me. I like the points he mentioned in here and yes i definitely use this strategy for my business also. I hope it will help me in raising my funds too. game developers in india
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