Happy Friday! In this week’s Friday Pinboard we feature a few new infographics on social media, the Olympics, SEO, and Games. We also found some other fun things this week and a very cool pic of last week’s Super Moon taken from Washington State.
Our business development team has made some changes recently to streamline their processes and continue to quickly scale for our partners. We asked Paige Petersen, Account Manager on the business development team, to detail some of those processes and how they have affected the team’s success.
As BigDoor’s Gamified Rewards Program grows larger and scales to manage more partners, we often forget that the business development team, us folks you might see at conferences or chat with on the phone, also need to adjust to deal with the influx of inquiries and new partners. Since we announced our new product in early April, we’ve been busy, really busy! We embarked on an attempt to streamline our processes, focus on validated learning’s, and constant iteration. Interestingly, we turned to our dev team and their use of the SCRUM/Agile method to streamline and organize our onboarding of new partners.
When the idea to incorporate a SCRUM/Agile methodology and put into practice a few key aspects from Eric Reis’ The Lean Startup, there was some skepticism. Several questions surfaced right away: “Won’t this take up even more time, instead of save it?” And “Isn’t SCRUM/agile for developers?” But despite the skepticism, we decided to give it a try.
In the initial weeks, our planning meetings and daily stand-ups were far too long rather than quick updates on progress and sticking points. However about a month in to the experiment we saw a turning point. Not only have some important sticking points been identified, but we’ve also been able to recognize where time is being spent, re-prioritize, and/or brainstorm more efficient ways to reach the same result. Time to fix an issue that might arise has gone from a matter of weeks to a few days.
We’ve been able to…
- Identify sticking points in our pipeline
- Iterate on messaging and identify key features that resonate with our audience
- Visually see/track the incremental development of each project
- Digest customer feedback daily with the team which has helped re-prioritize specific development efforts
Startups are like giant testing environments, whether we are testing a specific product, service, message or related concept –our team is always trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The BizDev team has adopted a “test-measure-learn-iterate-test again” philosophy. We’ve been able to test assumptions we’ve made about our business, our partners and what features are really important to them. While we are still in trial mode, it appears that the SCRUM/Agile method may not be just for the devs anymore! Incorporating these methods has produced excellent results and is truly making us a ‘leaner’ startup.
Update: We even more pleased to announce that BigDoor has been selected as a winner in the “Internet/Social Networking” category!
We’re very pleased to announce that BigDoor has been selected as a finalist in the prestigious TiE50 Awards Program! The program is part of TiE’s global network that includes more than 14,000 entrepreneurs and professionals that are dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship. Each year TiE50 recognizes the world’s most enterprising technology startups. BigDoor was selected as part of a comprehensive evaluation, screening and judging process. Thousands of qualified nominated companies are evaluated on business model, IP value, and leadership team. From the nominations the list is narrowed down to 100 per segment. We’ll be following along with all the finalists and are asking all BigDoor fans to visit the BigDoor page and vote for us!
One of the very best things about working at a startup is the freedom to experiment. In Marketing, we experiment all the time. Sometimes the experiments work, as was the case when our design team created a killer end of year gamification infographic. Sometimes the experiments just seem to need more time, like our BigDoor Loyalty Special on foursquare.
We’ve been thinking about Pinterest for a while now and quite honestly we’re not really sure what to make of it. For those who haven’t heard of Pinterest, the pin-board style site allows users to visually keep track of theme based ‘boards’ pinning images and articles to their self-created themes. The site is beautiful and easy to use. There’s also some amazing stats that are being thrown up – 10.4 million registered users; American users spending an average of one hour and 17 minutes on the site.* The quick rise in popularity and growing user base has led to an eruption of social media experts trying to figure out the benefit.
There are a few companies doing a great job already – Real Simple has almost 100,000 followers; WholeFoods has more than 14,000 followers and Etsy has more than 53,000 followers. In many of these cases their success is almost obvious with Pinterest’s 97 percent female demographic.
What about B2B companies? GE has a great page and some really interesting boards; Hubspot is doing some cool things as well – we personally like the “Fun Orange Things” page. While B2C companies like Nordstrom and Starbucks seem to be hitting their stride, B2B companies have yet to figure out if Pinterest has any real value.
Since we’re a startup and are willing to take social media risks, we’re jumping in, even with the possibility of failure! Every Friday, my colleague Charlotte & I will highlight our weekly pinboard. Like our Gamification News posts, our Friday Pinboard will feature things we’ve found during the week related to gamification, social media, marketing, loyalty and of course some random fun!
You can follow our pins here on our blog or jump to our BigDoor Pinterest page to join in our experiment!
*Source: Ragan’s PR Daily
Today marks the one year anniversary since the big Amazon Web Services outage that caused major downtime for numerous sites across the web including HootSuite, Reddit and Foursquare. In addition to those larger companies, many start-ups found themselves struggling during the outage, including us at BigDoor. Ask any of our current employees who were present then, and they can tell you about the levels of frustration we all felt as we were waiting to find out what was going on. Our CEO Keith Smith wrote about those frustrations in an article for GeekWire, “Amazon’s real problem isn’t the outage, it’s the communication“.
In the year since that outage, we have continued to work with AWS and though we don’t like to think about that horrible week last year, our experiences with them and their service have been largely positive. Our CTO and Co-founder Jeff Malek put together a retrospective of the past year with AWS, the improvements they have made and the challenges he sees for them (and us) in moving forward.
From the article “Amazon Web Services: A a year after the big outage, one startup’s perspective“:
“Looking back over the past twelve months, and revisiting the changes we made in response to the outage, brings some worthwhile observations to light:
1) AWS took action to address their communication and transparency issues.
2) If you need or want what Elastic Block Store provides, options haven’t changed, but risk may have.
3) EBS IOPs performance continues to be the primary concern that has persisted for us and every other AWS EBS user I’ve talked to.”
As the end of the day comes to a close, we are happy to report no repeats of last years catastrophe and are looking forward to continuing to work with AWS. To read the full article over at Geekwire, click here.
We absolutely love being a part of the Seattle tech community and sharing our office building with Founder’s Co-op and TechStars Seattle. Being able to meet and stay in touch with exciting new companies and the people behind them is inspiring and most importantly, fun. TheEasy, a space located in the basement of our office building, has always been a community space for meet-ups, sharing ideas, lunch and high competition ping-pong matches among office-goers and other community members. It has not however, always been very aesthetically pleasing or well-setup for that role. Red Russak of Startup City and the Startup Weekend folks started collecting money for some much needed improvements to the space last year, and succeeded in making the space smell and look much better.
But the space could use so much more. Spear-headed by Startup City, TheEasy has been entered into Turnstone’s $25,000 office makeover competition. While voting hasn’t officially started, we wanted to post this to show our support and excitement about this opportunity.
You can check out the video and the entry here:
If you are interested in the space, and the types of events that go on in TheEasy, you can head over to Startup City’s blog post on the contest here:
Spread the word!
On Friday, March 9th a small team from BigDoor braved the crazy Austin weather (rain, cold, wind, flooding) to have fun with 290 of our closest friends courtesy of Bing Booster. The BigDoor Happy Hour party was held in the #binglot at 4th and Congress in the heart of all the action during SXSW. With the theme of Pacific Northwest meets Austin, TX. we invited many of our current BigDoor partners, some great influencers, a handful of startup enthusiasts and a few cool people we know to hang out with us, have a few drinks, warm up from the rain and enjoy some of Austin’s best food trucks, including treats from Coolhaus; specialty tacos from Coreanos and mmmpanadas, Yum!
Our event would not have been possible except for the generous support from Bing Booster. If you haven’t heard about it, Bing Booster is an incredible program that helps support the startup ecosystem by providing access to people, places and, as was the case with BigDoor, events. They gave us a venue for our party, host bar and delicious food to make everyone happy. We can’t say enough great things about this program or the team that pulls it all in to place. Enjoy some of the photos from the event!
The BigDoor team has grown by a few team members in the past few months and in keeping with tradition, we decided to force them to come out of hiding briefly to answer some questions. We introduced Gerry Narvaja on the blog before when he first joined, but wanted to see what he could come up with in response to some of our off the wall questions. Gerry didn’t mention it, but he is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and while he hasn’t cooked for the BigDoor office yet, we hear that he can make some pretty delicious food!
What do you do for BigDoor?
Keep an eye on the database infrastructure and make sure it stays in tip-top shape.
What do you like most about BigDoor?
The hip co-workers and general working environment
Technology that needs to be invented?
It’s 2012 and I still haven’t seen my hover board
iPhone or Android?
Android, I don’t like anybody’s cool-aid
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Depends on which movie for each series
Favorite Jimmy Johns sandwich?
I believe it’s #4 (Turkey Tom)
Dog, Cat or Monkey?
I had a 80lb dog that jumped and climbed fences like a cat … does that count?
Don’t remember … but I dying to watch Moneyball
Bionic limbs or ability to fly?
Bionic limbs so I can move in slow motion while making weird sounds
What was the earliest game you played?
Game you’re currently playing?
Casual tower defense type games on the web
Favorite music to work to?
Symphonic rock from Pink Floyd, EL&P & Yes all the way to Muse
Other fun facts:
I have a big family and the IT infrastructure @ home to support my kids devices would be the envy of many startups a few years back.
Today’s post comes from our COO, Ring Nishioka. Below Ring reveals a little more about the culture here at BigDoor in his 2011 Startup Retrospective that recaps our recent company off-site.
On Wednesday we had an all company off-site. It was a great time to recap the previous year and look towards 2012 and where we’re headed as a company. As a startup we try to empower everyone to act and think like an owner. We all focus really hard on our product and our vision and try to keep the big corporation type stuff at a very minimum. We gave each group 5-7 minutes to do a rapid-fire recap of their wins and also losses this past year. Everyone did an excellent job with their retrospectives and our afternoon brainstorm was so productive that I’m really excited to see a lot of those ideas come to fruition!
One of our dev teams summed up things brilliantly in this tag cloud that was created from a series of developer chats. It’s evident from this visual the focus our company has on building great stuff and getting there quickly. I’ve always been proud of the work we do here and I’m even more proud to be surrounded by a world-class team.
One of the ways that we know we have stellar team members, is their commitment to the tech community here in Seattle. Two of our developers, Adam Loving and Brian Immel, recently participated in the King 5 Hackathon which partnered with Amazon and Adobe to host the competition. Brian’s girlfriend, Amanda Vilbrandt also participated in the event for the first time. Hackathons are typically weekend long events that bring together volunteers to build web programs and applications in a friendly competitive environment. They are often hosted by companies and organizations to solve tech-related problems or brain storm innovative ideas.
We are really proud to have these two working with us, and want to congratulate Adam Loving and the rest of team Dimensions on their win.