Note Taking Isn’t Dead


Regardless of the technology available, many people still prefer to take notes during meetings. Why? Because we’re taught from a young age that taking notes, physically writing them down, aids in retention. Not to mention the fact that few people can remember all of the details from a short meeting, much less a longer one. This is where new technology comes in. With the advent of the S Pen and note taking apps, the need for a notebook and pencil is long gone. 

Samsung Galaxy Note8

 The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is one piece of technology that is perfect for taking notes. With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Processor, it should have no problem running the note taking apps or supporting the S Pen. With this phone you can take notes on the screen without ever unlocking the phone, which is great for jotting down things to remember while on your way to a meeting. You can also create GIFs and edit photos. Another feature of this phone is its ability to multi-task. With 6 GB of RAM combined with the processor, lags are no longer a concern. 

S Pen

The S Pen comes with the Note8 and is accessible with the push of a button. The small tip size

 creates a more ‘pen and paper’ feel and allows for more detailed work when drawing. With Air Command, the options for using the pen are right on the screen and make it easier to use the pen’s features, whether it’s taking notes on the screen, making a GIF or simply doodling.

Note Taking Apps

Most smartphones have a built-in note taking app that allows users to take notes, color images and save text notes. If that application isn’t enough, there are several other apps available as well. 

One of these apps is Evernote. This app also syncs to a computer, so any notes taken during a meeting or on a conference call can be accessed and worked with across devices. There is also a widget that can be used with an S Pen, so handwriting is possible. 

HandWrite Pro Note and Draw is another useful app that has photo manipulation features as well as note taking features. It, too, is S Pen friendly. Squid looks more like notebook paper, which many do, but this one also has the ability to mark up and export PDFs and project from the app like a whiteboard.

Scribble Racer is perfect for decompressing after a rough meeting. Designed for use with the S Pen, it is an obstacle game with several difficulty levels along a course.

Technology is Resurrecting Note Taking

Even though technology has progressed to the point where pen and paper are obsolete, the need for taking notes is still as strong as ever. We’re taught from a young age to do it, and few of us dispense with the habit as adults. For businesses, the need for notes is just as prevalent, and being able to translate those notes into usable documents is a necessity.

How To Protect Your Customers’ Data


Your customers’ data is of paramount importance to your business. Your clients have trusted you with their details and information, and as such, you should be able to deliver by ensuring this is protected and will not be lost or stolen. With cyber attacks becoming a more prominent reality in our world, it is increasingly difficult to protect data from being hacked into. However, there are ways in which you can ensure this is not lost and is as safe as possible.

If you work with clients all over the world and you would like to ensure their data is safe with your business, these are the measures you should consider.

Invest in compliance

If your business operates globally and you deal with customers on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, this means your clients’ data is not only at risk from it being hacked, it is also at risk from it not being compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With the regulation now being in force, it is essential that businesses pay attention to the ways in which data storage could have an impact on their business. If you handle EU data, this means your company needs to have GDPR compliance. Learn more about GDPR Compliance for US Businesses.

Backup your data

The second way in which you can protect your clients’ data if you are a US business is by backing this up and doing it early. Depending on the amount of data that your system holds, you will need to back this up more or less regularly. Windows has a backup utility built into it so that you can do this in a basic way as often as it is required. If you would like to run a more comprehensive backup, there are numerous third party programs that can help you do so. Whichever application you use, make sure you store a copy offsite in case there is a fire or other natural disaster affecting the area where you work.

Password protect documents

The third and final measure we recommend you make use of in order for you to safeguard your customers’ information is by password-protecting documents. From Microsoft Office to Adobe Acrobat, there are many applications out there which allow you to set up a password for the documents you handle on a daily basis. If you would like to password-protect a document using Microsoft Word 2003, you must go to Tools, Options and then click on the Security tab. This way, you will be able to insert a password on a particular document, if desired, and change this as many times as you wish. As Microsoft Office’s password protection systems are relatively easy to crack, there are programs you can make use of in order to ensure you can recover these passwords. These include Elcomsoft’s Advanced Office Password Recovery (AOPR).

Big Data Is The Future, But Which Dashboard Will Take You Forward?


The verdict on Big Data is in. It’s not just a theory, businesses are starting to use the data they collect to make real, effective change. They’re learning more about their consumers, about how effective their marketing is, about internal productivity and morale, and much, much more. And to read that data, most of them are using dashboarding tools, also known as data visualization tools. But if you’re starting to implement your own data-driven strategies, which one is going to work best for you? Here, we’re going to look at some of the top and most affordable dashboarding tools and what they have to offer.


Despite being relatively low-cost, Klipfolio is one of the most comprehensive dashboards out there thanks to a powerful transformation engine that collates data from a huge list of sources, making it one of the most effective tools at achieving a broad range of practical data uses. It’s remarkably easy to create different data visualizations whether it’s using one source or multiple sources. The visualization elements make it a lot easier to see data in the most effective way, too, while also offering a lot of flexibility in how it’s controlled. This includes a focus on responsive design and data monitoring and sharing options that allow you to control how much access every user have to every individual data stream and visualization.


One of Klipfolio’s main competitors, Tableau is all about making data analyzing accessible to anyone regardless of experience with the tool or which industry they’re in. This is because of its remarkable ease-of-use, and interactive visualizations that tend to be a cut above the rest. Despite the ease-of-use, it’s more than capable of handling lots of streams of fast-changing data, an essential component of Big Data. With impressive artificial intelligent, Tableau is one of the most effective tools when it comes to creating accessible graphics and visualizations quickly and efficiently. This might make it one of the best choices for those who are newer to the world of dashboarding tools.

Google Data Studio

What about the free options that exist out there? The one that’s more worth talking about is Google Data Studio. Google was one of the pioneers of data-driven strategy in business and it should be no surprise that they have one of the most comprehensive dashboarding tools out there. As easy to use as Tableau with responsive drag-and-drop design, it’s another good option for those who are newer to dashboarding tools. There are two key differences, however. The first is that Google Data Studio is free. This will immediately strike many as a positive, but the truth is like most free software, it doesn’t see the level of service that paid models do. There are issues with Google Data Studio, but many of them contain workarounds. If you’re willing to put a little more effort in when dealing with the occasional error, then Zima Mean explains data studio problems and fixes that can help you get up to speed. Otherwise, Google Data Studio is a web-browser based application while Tableau and Portfolio are desktop applications. Which you prefer is really a matter of preference.


Tableau’s biggest competitor, Qlikview takes a different approach to dashboarding. Rather than focusing on accessibility, it can be harder to use but has a huge range of customization options and a wide list of features. This means that it can take a lot longer to fully get to grips with, but if you’ve used dashboarding tools before and you’re looking for something more in-depth then Qlikview might be the tool for you. What’s more, a clean, uncluttered user interface makes it a lot less intimidating to use once you’ve got used to the feature list.


Another highly popular tool, though it doesn’t boast quite as large a community as Qlikview of Tableau, FusionCharts is a JavaScript-based tool that’s relatively low in cost but high in features. Like Tableau, ease-of-use is a big priority here. One of the most impressive ways that comes across is the ability to create visualizations not just from scratch but from an included range of templates that allow you to simply insert your data as and where is needed. If you’re looking for fast visualizations without having to do too much work, it might be the option for you.

Which tool you use depends on what your budget is, how much support you need, what features you want, and how competent you are with them. Hopefully, the closer look provided above helps you choose the right one for you.

When Startup Software Gets out of Hand


What do you do when you run a startup and need to add a new business function? No, you don’t hire a new employee — that’s much too expensive and time-consuming; you must remain small and agile to contend with your big-business competitors. Instead, you get new software.

Software is a startup’s solution to everything. For nearly any business function you can imagine, there is a software tool that makes it cheaper and easier. Accounting? QuickBooks. HR? Zenefits. Social media? Buffer. If there is a business function not serviced by software — well, there’s your next startup idea.

The only problem is that as your startup grows, you will eventually need to hire employees to provide more targeted attention to these aspects of your business. Unfortunately, having so much software hanging around your network can slow everything down, inhibiting your ability to compete as efficiently in your market. Fortunately, there is a solution: more software.

The Software That Manages Your Software

Software asset management (SAM) is a critical element of IT asset visibility. It entails all the infrastructure and processes required to adequately control and protect all software assets. Typically, organizations have several goals for SAM, including optimizing investments, reducing unplanned costs, avoiding vulnerabilities, and ensuring compliance.

Simply using asset visibility software is not the end of your SAM efforts. While having a strong SAM tool is vital to success in managing your software (and other IT) assets, it is also imperative that you and your employees develop the correct habits for using software. What’s more, you need to understand the scope of your SAM needs, which will likely change as your software and other technologies journey through the IT asset lifecycle.

For most startups, SAM is vital — but the difficulty of starting SAM prevents many businesses from obtaining the software support they need. Worse, there’s plenty of misinformation floating around about how to implement a SAM system.

The Truths and Lies About SAM

Consider the following facts about SAM found around the web:

 You only need one SAM tool. This is a lie; there is no single tool or solution that can discover and monitor all the software and data on your network. Some SAM tools are powerful enough to find most of the software your startup is likely to use, but as your business grows, you will likely need to acquire additional solutions.

It is the customer’s job to maintain SAM. This is somewhat true and somewhat false. Because SAM contains software, it undergoes the same IT asset lifecycle as the rest of your devices, software, and data. Thus, you must recognize when it needs augmentation — perhaps with another SAM service or tool. However, your SAM vendor should also be willing and able to update your system with new content, which should enhance its performance.

SAM is complex, ambiguous, and varied. This is undeniably true. Software is diverse, and most licenses are intentionally complex and ambiguous. Additionally, cloud licensing — which is popular among startups — adds another layer of difficulty for SAM systems. It is imperative that you take your time to understand what you need your SAM system to do.

 How to Do SAM Right

As mentioned before, there is no easy way to do SAM right. However, there are several easy ways to do SAM wrong. For example, you could be thwarting your SAM efforts by:

Setting unrealistic expectations. SAM won’t save your company. SAM won’t make you money. But over time, well-organized SAM systems can make you and your staff more productive.

Lacking a structured plan. You should have a clear list of requirements for your SAM strategy. For example, if your industry has compliance regulations, that should be a high priority.

Failing to research SAM solutions. Different SAM vendors provide different options, but there are some solutions that will never be available out of the box. Doing SAM right requires a well-researched budget, which means understanding how much customization you need.

To avoid regular SAM mistakes, your first step should be to speak with a IT professional regarding your organization’s present and future SAM needs. From there, you can consult with SAM vendors to understand options and pricing. The more information you have, the better your SAM strategy will be — but you shouldn’t wait too long to enact a SAM system.

Is Technology Causing More Problems For Your Business Than It’s Solving?


There’s no doubt that we live in the age of technology. Just about everyone has access to the internet, and most of us have devices in our pockets that let us connect with anyone and everyone at the touch of a button. Of course, it’s no surprise that, because of this, the world of has changed in some pretty significant ways. Most of these changes have been for the better, but if you assume that technology is always going to improve your business no matter what, then you’re sorely mistaken. With that in mind, here are some ways that technology could potentially cause more problems in your business than it solves, and how to avoid letting that happen.

Network problems

The vast majority of businesses in the modern era take place almost entirely online and for a good reason. After all, people spend more time on the internet than ever, and it allows you to connect with people all over the world. Of course, if you’ve got a network of customers that involves dedicated software or ecommerce, then there’s almost always going to be the potential for something to go wrong. If something goes wrong with your network then there’s a good chance that your customers are going to to be pretty unhappy about it. That’s why keeping track of it is so important. You can download a free trial of network monitoring software to see just how much easier things become when you’re able to see what’s going on with your network at all times. That way you can solve a lot of problems before your customers even realize they’re happening.


As wonderful as the internet is as a tool for your business, it does leave you vulnerable to attack in a number of different ways. You might have previously been mostly concerned about security in terms of your premises, but now, cyber criminals are the largest threat to your business. In order to make sure that your business isn’t vulnerable online than you need to be sure that you’re taking care to keep all of your firewall and anti-malware software up to date. Something so simple really can make a huge difference to how secure your business is.

Data loss

Data storage has become so much easier since the dawn of the digital age. Rather than keeping things in physical form in large boxes, you can store everything on a hard drive, or even in the cloud. However, if you’re not backing up all of your data then you could end up in serious trouble. As secure as digital storage can be, it’s not totally bulletproof which means if you don’t have your data backed up, you could lose all of it in one fell swoop.

The most important thing to remember is that technology is a tool. If you treat it as though it’s going to solve all of your problems and instantly turn your business into a success, then you’re almost certainly going to end up in a pretty dangerous position. However, if you think about it as a tool to solve specific problems within your business, then you’re going to avoid relying on it too much.

Can You Really Build A Site Without Any Code


Across the web, there are loads of different services which promise to give you the power to build your own website without any code. The allure of this sort of promise is very strong, as a lot of small businesses simply don’t have the resources to go any other way. Of course, though, building a website is a complicated job, and the idea of doing it without code can seem too good to be true. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring this area to give you an idea of the ease you’ll find in doing it for yourself.

What Do You Need?

To begin this journey, you first have to consider exactly what your website is going to need. Building an ecommerce site which can sell products, for example, is a lot harder than putting together a simple blog, and will be more likely to require coding skills. As someone new to the game, it could be hard to know what might be possible or not. So, you might have to do some research at this stage, especially if you want to achieve some good results.

Understanding exactly what you’re going to need might take a little bit of time. To start, it can help to write a list of the features you’d like your site to have, being as specific and detailed as possible. From here, you can figure out exactly what will need to be used to make each feature work, along with the skills you’ll need to do it. After a short while, you will find yourself getting to grips with exactly what you’ll need.

Choosing A Platform

With a good idea of what you’re going to have to build, you’ll be ready to choose the best platform for the job. There are three different levels to this sort of tool, and you can find some examples of them below. In some cases, the best platform will simply be the one you feel most comfortable with.

  • Wix/Other Builders: The most commonly chosen tool for this sort of job is a handy DIY tool, like Wix. While limiting your scope, this sort of tool makes it very easy to put together something beautiful, without having to know anything about web design. Of course, though, they will make it hard to achieve large jobs like ecommerce sites.
  • WordPress/Bootstrap: Next, options like Bootstrap and WordPress are often the very best for this work. Enabling you to build a site with all of the normal features you’d have access to, while also making it nice and simple, this sort of tool is perfect for beginners. With over 75% of the world’s websites using platforms like this, you can always find support and documentation to help you.
  • Starting Fresh: In the past, all websites were built from the same basic pieces; HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Of course, though, this sort of method is often very hard, and a lot of people will struggle a lot more than they have to if they choose to go with it. In most cases, professional companies won’t go down this route, so it makes sense for you to try and avoid it.

Finding Alternatives To Code

The only option out of the ones above which will completely limit the need for code is a service like Wix. Unfortunately, though, this sort of site is rarely enough, and most businesses will need something more to power their work. To help you with this, you can find some alternatives to programming which can be used with platforms like WordPress and Bootstrap.


  • Plugins: With platforms which are so widely used, you can almost always find a plugin for the job you have to do. Finding options like this is a simple matter of doing some searching. Once you find some options which work for you, though, it will be a lot easier to use them than trying to start fresh.


  • APIs/Shortcode: In some cases, you may not be able to find a plugin or add-on to do your job for you, but this doesn’t mean you’re completely lost. Instead, you just need to find a company like Plivo to provide you with easy to use APIs which can do loads of different jobs. There are loads of guides and other resources around the web which are dedicated to helping new users with these sorts of tools.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on the time you put into your website building dreams. For a lot of people, being able to put together a website without any code seems very far-fetched. In reality, though, this will be nice and easy, as long as you put the time into your research at the beginning.

Why Your Start-Up Can’t Survive a Loss of Net Neutrality

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Net neutrality has been all over the headlines recently. Blog are abuzz and newspaper column inches are piling up about what could be the biggest revolutionary web development for years. But just how exactly does the FCC Verizon ruling affect start-up businesses? We look at the impact and it’s possible consequences for your small business:

Visionaries May Be Shut Out

By removing the concept of net neutrality, the online world could effectively be turned into a two-tier system. This could mean small businesses and visionary innovators finding their operations impossible. With the net becoming ‘pay to play’, blue-chip companies could pay heavy fees to Internet Service Providers to make sure that their sites run faster and better than the rest of the web, giving them a huge advantage.

‘Sponsored’ Apps Make Competition Impossible

With big corporations already operating on the edges of this, carrier AT&T announced back in January their plans to offer ‘Sponsored Data’. This would allow those companies with the budget to do so the chance to give their customers free data time when using their apps and services. Things like this could be the downfall of small businesses, who simply won’t have the budget to compete.

Eloquence Will Belong to the Victors

With other channels being slowed and smaller voices effectively being silenced, the echo chamber effect we’re already seeing being played out with fake news and interest driven display algorithms will get smaller and smaller. The unique beauty of the net – as a collaborative resource where we all have a voice, and where a smartphone video shot in your kitchen has just as much chance of going viral as anything a glossy corporate can airbrush into existence- will be lost. The different perspectives that make the web the incredible resource it is will disappear, with only corporate voices left.

It Could Eradicate Digital Nomads

Much is said in celebration of the digital nomad, that elite group of remote workers in the world who can turn in project work while sat on a bench in Bali. But although your small business may not be so exotic, you are likely to rely on remote working. High speed home broadband and secure VPN networks are the tools that keep this working. But if we wave goodbye to net neutrality, working from any location could get a lot harder. If ISPs are allowed to constrain traffic how they please without consequence, this could mean having to pay for business class access at each separate location or pay every ISP involved in order to secure priority access. If not, it could be so slow as to be effectively unworkable, ending the possibility of working remotely.

So whether the recent case washed over you or not, in order to build a successful small business you need net neutrality in place. The eyes of the world are on the best decision. Will there a place for disruptive innovators and free-thinking but cash flow poor entrepreneurs in this new model? Or will originality and creativity be crushed under the might of huge companies and their deeper pockets?

Offline Is Off-Trend: Why It’s All About Online


Okay, so technically the idea of everything online being the way forward isn’t anything new. But in saying that, so many of us think that we’re operating entirely online, when in reality we’re not. You may have an online business, selling services or with your own online store, but could your business be classed as entirely online? Probably not! Because we still tend to conduct a lot of our everyday process offline, out of habit above all else. From writing notes to store information and even dealing with clients, so much of it is done in real life. But here are five reasons why you should consider moving the bulk of your operations entirely online.

It’s Quicker

Point one is often enough to convince most people. Because anything that takes too much time is always one, frustrating, and two, unprofitable. So when you say that doing something is going to be so much quicker when it’s carried out online, could be enough to convert you. Take your documents, for example. So you might like having them stored in physical files, but how much time does it take you to go through them? With everything stored online, it’s available in an instant. And that, couldn’t be any more satisfying.

It’s Cheaper

If that hasn’t sold you, then this one sure will. Online operations, more often than not, can be cheaper. So you want to deal with your supplier offline, just because it’s what you’ve always done. But why do that when you’re paying over the odds. Relationships are great, but they don’t always make profit. Just take this point: Shopping Online = Cheaper. And when you’re making great savings, earning more, and generally bossing it online, offline shouldn’t even be a contender.

It’s Accessible

So maybe you’re not even in this for yourself – you’re all about the customer. And when that’s the case, you want to make sure that they’re getting the better end of the deal. But they always are when you operate online. Take the approaches Online Flipbook: 12 Benefits Over Printed Content outline. Because accessibility speaks for itself. With online documents like this, more people can receive it. And when you’re looking for reach, online blows that pretty little printed number right out of the water.

It’s Interactive

And then there’s the quite significant point of online efforts always being interactive, whereas offline can’t always keep up. Engaging with your customers online is easier, as these creative ways clearly show us. But you can’t always access your customers offline; there reach isn’t there. So when you want to wow your customers and get to know them better, it’s online all the way.

It’s Live

But the best thing about operating online? It’s in real time. And this can undoubtedly be more efficient for not only your business, but your customers too. When your online operations are live, you’ve got no waiting around, no delays, and definitely no time wasting. And when you’re trying to run a business and make money, that’s always going to be your top priority.

Gadgets & Gizmos Modern Businesses Can’t Function Without


In today’s modern world, it’s hard to imagine how anyone, let alone businesses, functioned before the rise of new technology. Technology has altered the world in many ways, changing the way that we lead our lives, and also, how society functions. It’s incredible that in such a short period of time, so much can change and evolve, especially in industries such as the business sector.

Today, there are many gadgets and gizmos that modern businesses just couldn’t function without. In the 90’s it was photocopiers and basic computers, today there’s a lot more than that making running a business easier and less stressful. The question is, what are the pieces of technology that modern businesses just couldn’t function without? Let’s find out.

Voice recorders

Business meetings seem to go by in a blink of an eye with so much being said that it can be difficult at times to take everything in. To ensure that nothing gets missed, many business owners choose to use voice recorders to keep track of what’s being said in meetings. Obviously, if a voice recorder is being used, it’s important to make everyone in the meeting aware of it. If you don’t already have a voice recorder and think it would be useful for using in meetings, they are available at Spy Centre, as well as on sites like Amazon and eBay.

Cloud storage

Okay, so not technically a gadget or gizmo, but cloud storage is, without a doubt, one of the pieces of tech that modern businesses could not function without. Not only does cloud storage provide secure online storage for documents and data, but it also makes sharing information with employees quicker and easier. One cloud account could give your entire company access to a range of files, reducing the amount of time spent sharing documents and data via email, and also reducing the cost of printing information out, making your company greener.

Tablets and smartphones

It’s no secret that tablets and smartphones have become a vital part of daily life for the majority of people, but what about businesses? The truth is that many businesses could not function without the use of smartphones and tablets, especially since they can now do pretty much everything that a computer or laptop can. From writing emails to managing your business accounts, smartphones and tablets have made running a business, especially when on the go, much easier, and so, today many business owners couldn’t live without these crucial gadgets.

Portable phone chargers

Although a phone charger could just be taken out and about with you, it’s not always practical to plug it in and start charging a smartphone up. Hence why portable phone chargers (there are also portable laptop and tablet ones too) are so useful. Whether you’re commuting and your phone is about to die, or you’re in a meeting, and your laptop has little battery, a portable charger could be a lifesaver.

The importance of gadgets and gizmos for businesses is undeniable – many businesses could no longer function without many of the vital pieces of tech mentioned above.

What Does Synchronization in Bitcoin Mean and Why Does it Take So Long?


To ensure that this currency is secure and safe, wallet synchronization is the best thing to do in the world of bitcoin. All bitcoin software in the world synchronizes their wallets to ensure that the bitcoins are aligned with the general blockchain ledger. The synchronization process can take up many hours since the operation of using bitcoins involves various calculations using the root algorithm. This is the reason why most bitcoin users invest in powerful machines for computational purposes. System freezes can occur if you attempt to use less-powerful machines to synchronize bitcoins. You should invest in high-end computers with more-than-normal speed for reliable performance.

Bitcoin wallet synchronization is a routine process for many bitcoin users. Numerous relevant forums on the internet give free advice to new bitcoin users. They can give you solicited tips on synchronization. There are many tricks and tips to make the process run faster shared by Bitcoin experts.

The method of synchronizing a wallet is very long because the blockchain is growing longer than ever. The block is added to the blockchain every time a transaction is verified. These are permanent additions to the public ledger. The blockchain will grow tremendously as many people keep transacting in bitcoins.

Traditional currencies are growing to be a thing of the past. This is because they are controlled by the central banks and governments that lie about their interest to the general community. However, the truth is that they work to protect the interest of the upper class of the social community. This trend is well-documented even in the foreign states. You need to know that these figures are there to boost the elite’s status quo. Powerful, wealthy figures support the old system because they support them. Bitcoin can decentralize currency policy and change status quo.

Many people will start operating with digital currencies in many years ahead. Computer experts were the first people to adopt bitcoins. Other people have been inspired by media to start using this currency. The future is certainly foreseen. More ATMs will come that allow bitcoin withdrawals.

How to Stay Ahead of Startup Trends

technologyIf you feel like you’re always behind the times in startup trends, you’re not alone. Journalists build their entire careers on being analysts of the industry, trying to become the one who predicted the next Apple or Google. Following those journalists will connect you with greater trends and analysis. Many of them build and maintain lists of prominent industry figures you should follow.

If you’re still feeling stuck, it may be time for a more aggressive strategy on keeping up with the news.

Study the Investors

On the blog of Toby Ruckert, you’re likely to find articles about things like how to secure government funding for your startup. This might sound like an obvious tip at first glance. Who doesn’t want government money if it will help launch and won’t come at a high interest rate? But Toby takes the tip further by discussing how you can shift the work of having to apply for government funding to investors.

Reading investor blogs get you inside the head of people that have been in the game for years. They know what it takes for companies to grow and become successful brands in a crowded market. You might not be able to meet with them personally, but their blogs are full of free knowledge. Seek out lists of investors where you can.

Study Which Startups Succeed

The kind of startups that succeed tell you a lot about the climate that you are competing against. Take Honey as an example. The idea of finding deals for users might sound like a turn off for online retailers, but as the numbers increase the hype behind the small startup is growing too. Co-founder Ryan Hudson says that the company is succeeding based on word of mouth marketing. He claims the majority of traffic is from users typing the URL of Honey directly into their browsers.

Honey might be spreading so virally because of its leak on Reddit, but it could be related to the quality of service that users want. The startup adds value to users, so people are willing to pass it on to friends and family. Not every startup will catch like Honey, but you can take time to evaluate your business model and find its sticky value.

Even simpler than that, read the blogs of successful startups. They will often discuss their process, brag about accomplishments and talk about new partnerships they have acquired.

Study the Tools Startups Use

If you didn’t know, some of the most successful startups around are currently built on Python. Quora, Instagram and Pinterest all use the programming language to render their pages in-browser. Python is one of many popular frameworks currently favored by Web developers worldwide. Ruby on Rails is another simplistic programming language, both are free to learn from manuals on the Web or from Code University.

Knowing which languages are popular helps you hire developers to build the vision you want.

Visit Universities

Robert Scoble claims that he saw a self-driving car debut at Stanford University in 2007. Today, there are several tech companies and car companies seeking to build one and get it on the market. Universities like Stanford and MIT are the best and brightest that American schools have to offer. If you want to know what the next generation will be using, take a peek in on some of the technology these students are playing with.

You can also head over to Boston, where robotics is fairly huge and where some of the brightest minds in the fields are building amazing machines that can carry heavy loads and navigate complicated terrain on their own.

Network Face to Face

Getting out and meeting people is a great method of figuring out what companies might be into. Not every business executive has time to meet with you, but hanging out at local networking events and talking with experts in the field to write a blog post are both great ways to gain knowledge from experienced people.

Follow Trends Online

Google Trends and Twitter are two good places to start if you want to see what’s brewing in the tech scene, but you can find interesting trends all over the Web if you know where to search. Sites like Reddit divide their groups up by interest, making it easy to find a niche and search for the trends that niche thrives on. News sites like NPR and CNN have technology sections that feature stories about new ideas being toyed with, and new procedures that have become standard. NPR has done extensive reporting on the viability of fracking in the wake of a natural gas boom in the United States. Knowing these types of trends, and some of the debates behind them, influences where investor money goes.


If possible, travel to other countries and discover their startup scenes for more inspiration. You’ll learn things like Africa’s shift toward a society less reliant on physical currency, or how Brazil and South America are experiencing a small tech boom. Take a cue from Hollywood, an industry that routinely borrows from all over the world, there is always profit to be had from good ideas.

Kevin is an account director at Online Rep Management and has been working within internet marketing and public relations for over 8 years. Kevin got his start working online in SEO, link building, and some affiliate marketing. Kevin is most passionate about helping good brands become online entities. Check out ORM or follow Kevin on twitter!

DC Startup Keeps Kids Safe Online


In 2009 brothers Steve and Tim Woda lived the nightmare. Tim’s son was targeted by an online predator, leaving the family feeling vulnerable and fearful. Before the incident, they knew that cyberbullying, sexting, and online predators were a problem, but when it happened in their own family, the dangers of the digital world became very real.

Thankfully the child was unhurt, but the incident caused the two entrepreneurs to step back and think about the problem. We can’t keep our kids from the Internet, so how do we protect them while they grow and mature?

The result of this deep reflection was uKnow. The company creates tools that connect and protect families. Currently, their main product is uKnowKids, a parental dashboard that monitors kids’ various social media feeds.

The tools from the uKnow team utilize social, mobile, and location monitoring to help parents keep track of their kids through a single dashboard. They also offer a notification system to alert the parents if kids engage in illegal or dangerous online behavior. An added layer of analytics keeps parents updated on how their kids use social media and the web.

So, what’s the big deal? There are plenty of parental monitoring devices out there, and it’s easy enough to follow your kids on social media.

The team at uKnow thinks they’re doing it differently. “uKnowKids enables parents to ‘have their child’s back’ without constantly looking over his or her shoulder,” the website says. It’s watching out for them without being intrusive. uKnowKids was also the first monitoring program to offer several features including text slang translation, image monitoring of Facebook and Myspace, and activity and trend analysis.

The 4-year-old company recently completed a $2.2 million funding round and expect to announce a full series A in the coming months. uKnowKids is just the first program in their plans. Soon they hope to release uKnowFamily, which will keep every family member connected. They are also experimenting with a location app that will stand separately from the other two.

The Woda brothers aren’t new to startups or online safety. Prior to uKnow, they were both on the founding team of BuySafe, a software that allows e-tailers to provide a secure shopping environment. They’ve brought that experience over to uKnow and are now working hard to protect kids and families in the digital space.

As a parent myself, I admit I dread the day my kids are let loose on the Internet. It’s a scary world out there, and I’ll definitely check out tools like uKnowKids to protect them.


Circle Helps Families Redefine Internet Use



Recently, I downloaded the Kindle FreeTime app for my Kindle Fire. It allows my boys to essentially have their own Kindles within my Kindle, complete with parent controls and set time limits on games, books, and apps.

It’s worked beautifully. The boys are slowly getting acquainted with technology, but I don’t have to worry about them racking up Angry Birds charges by accidentally clicking through to the Internet. And the time limits I’ve already programmed in keep us from fighting over when Kindle time is done.

This is great for my kids now, but how am I going to help them manage that time as they get older? And, frankly, my husband and I need a little control over our devices, too. With our jobs, it’s really easy to get sucked into social media, emails, and texts, even during our limited family time.

It’s one of those problems I have, but I didn’t really realize I had it until I got an email explaining Circle. All at one time, I was made aware of the problem AND the solution. I love that.

Circle works as a kind of middleman between the home router and the different devices used by family members. Through an iOS app, the administrator can manage everything from how long someone can use social media to which category of websites kids are allowed to access. There is also a “pause” mode, ensuring a device-free dinner or family time.

I know what you’re thinking. “My kids can figure out how disable that in 2 seconds flat.”

The team at Circle has thought of that. The device has no off button, so it can’t be turned off. If it is unplugged from the wall, it continues to run on the internal battery. When that battery starts to die, the administrator receives a notification on his or her cell phone. For now, that’s as failsafe as it gets.

Using Circle in the home can ensure that everyone is learning to manage their online time responsibly, adults as well as children.

“As a parent, we have an obligation to learn how to live with technology and help our children explore the internet in a balanced, safe and smart way,” said Circle founder and CMO, Crystal Wiley in a statement. “Circle empowers me to stay on top of and effectively examine my household’s internet habits, and provides tools to improve our family’s online experience.”

Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, the team at Circle has made the device simple and beautiful. The tiny box will fit into the décor of any home, without all the wires and black boxes we typically associate with technology.

Circle recently announced a new Kickstarter campaign, aimed at raising the money they need to bring the product fully to market in 2014. As of publication, they were at X of their $250,000. If you’re like me and thinking, “Hey, I didn’t realize I need that, but I do!” head over and pledge a few dollars.


Voices Heard Media Helps Brands (Including Startups) Engage Their Customers


Voices Heard Media, Knoxville startup, Tennessee Startup, Startups

These days, customers expect more from brands. Gone are the days when we make a purchase and walk away. Now, we often spend time and effort researching major purchases, and we care about the companies where we choose to spend our money. With the advent of social media, we have come to expect a high level of engagement with the companies we love.

Tony Runyan puts it this way: Two-way communication is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.

But, that engagement can be expensive and difficult for companies to maintain on their own, which is where Voices Heard Media comes in.

Voices Heard Media provides a suite of plugins that increase customer engagement. Their products include apps that handle contests/sweepstakes, trivia/quizzes, social media streams, live Q&A sessions, video polls, and conversation around a brand. They work with big names like Disney, Food Network, and Fox Sports.

Will Overstreet founded Voices Heard Media in 2007. In his former gig as an Atlanta Falcon and sports broadcaster, Overstreet noticed that a simple conversation with a fan increased the likelihood that the fan would buy a jersey, listen to a show, or tell friends and family about Overstreet’s brand. He realized that there had to be a scalable way to take that kind of interaction into the digital world.

Tony Runyan joined the company in 2008 and made the initial big sales they needed. Now the VP of Product, Runyan develops new products, among other things.

So, what can the Voices Heard Media products do?

When I ran into them at the Southland Summit last month, I recognized the Food Network site on their display computer. The company wanted to increase engagement on their site, so they had Voices Heard Media create a Q&A session with the most recent The Next Food Network Star winner. The idea was simple enough: visitors sent in questions over one week, then Aarti Sequeria answered them. But the magic happened when, after the event closed, it still continued to drive traffic and interactions on the site.

All products from Voices Heard Media work on a company’s website, mobile site, and Facebook tab. The company sees this flexibility as absolutely necessary in today’s digital world.

They may work with some of the biggest names in the country, but they also handle smaller, local-focused companies like news outlets, political campaigns, and creative agencies.

Their prices are pretty startup-friendly, too, starting at only $50 for a basic package. And they can bring the same expertise they’ve built with big brands to your new company.

Check out Voices Heard Media and see how they can help your startup engage your audience.