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There is so much critisism over this term that I had to put my two cents in. Yes marketers are using this frequently and yes it makes sense. I looked up the wikipedia definition, which was something like this “Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.” It’s still a little unclear why people give you weird eyes when you tell them that you use growth hacking techniques to get traffic.

That is a great definition, but if I was to break down what I thought it was it would go something like this “growth hacking is figuring out any possible way you can get visitors or actions to your website.” Is SEO part of growth hacking, well yes. I generally think of SEO as its own channel though and don’t think that there is something uniquely done. I want to share what I think would be an example of a growth hack. Students are prime targets for retailers. They are of upper middle class and fall within a very lucrative buying age range. Did you know that most Universities assign independent emails to students when they join?

For the duration of their college years they are forced to check two emails. Their person one and their student one. Can you imagine how valuable this email would be if you could get a hold of it? You would be able to have their direct attention for a few seconds to market whatever you wanted. Here is the growth hack. Get into the school database with the list of names and emails. You would have something like maybe 35,000 emails. Setup a mailchimp account and create the best marketing email you have ever written. Then blast to all 35,000. Boom, you just flooded your website with traffic and potential users or sales. Also students are extremely viral with their sharing. Even if you are coding up something special you still need to remember to include some design. Coding is an art form and needs to be taken seriously.

They are more plugged into the social networks then anyone else. If you can get them to share your content, you could have some serious gains. There would be a few really important parts to pay close attention to in this equation. Pay very close attention to the email that you write. I would not recommend sending anything more then two sentences. It will be seen as spam if it is not super short. Also I would not recommend putting a link in there. Spam filters will grab it and many people will be annoyed.

There are so many of these techniques you can pull to drive large amounts of traffic to your websites, you just need to be creative. Get out of your normal routine of marketing and think really hard. I like to ask myself a lot “What would I click on?” or “Why would I leave?” Hopefully this can help with the process. There are a ton of great articles out there and videos as well. If you want code interview

Stay creative and keep “Growth Hacking” you growth hackers.

macsWhat is an accelerator? I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant, so I went looking it up online. From my understanding there are companies out there that help beginning stage startups prepare for the big dog investors. They are there to mentor and even make small investments in your startup. They sometimes will invest in about 15% of your company. It appears that many of these investments are around the $20,000 range. In researching about these accellerators, the name Y Combinator kept coming up. They are a silicon valley acceleartor that invests a small amount of money 14k to 20k in a small number of startups, around 52.

The first thing I did was go to the website to check them out. Wow, they definitley need help in the design department. They obviously don’t care about the look of their website and have gained street credit else where. I guess it helps that Paul Graham is well known in the area. They still could have someone help them out with their design. If you plan to apply they have two deadlines. One for the winter session and one for the summer. Their program takes three months and has had many successful businesses come out of it.

Recently they just finished their summer session and added all their pitches to youtube. I noticed that a ton of these companies have been receiving money for their startups on websites like Wefunder and Angel List. Some of the stand out companies are Asseta, One Month Rails, Sound Focus. Ycominator has come a long way since the begining of the company in March 2005.

One difficult obstacle that I thought of is what if you get accepted and you don’t live in the silicon valley? You have to be there for three months for the program and the friends and collegues that you will meet, most likely will live there too. I guess that would be a good problem to have though.

There is a lot of extensive information on their website about what kind of things go on in the program. There are dinners where established founders present and talk about their past experiences. There is also the very big demo day at the end. Investors flock to this demo day to see what kind of websites are coming out of the program. It is almost like the draft for a sports team. All the big guys are there and willing to dish out some money.

Also through the program each week there are small presentations done to show the progress that you have made and what cool features you have created. Another important fact that I am interested in is if they give you money while you are there. We all have day jobs and need to support ourselves. I couldn’t find anywhere that talked about helping financially while you build your startup. It should be really cool to see what comes out of this acceleartor for the winter session. I wonder if the summer or winter programs produce better startups? Only time will tell.

startupsThat is correct! September 23rd the law went into effect that allows startups to advertise their businesses to accredited investors. What does this mean for the startup community? Well it means that you can be seen by angel investors if you have the dough to be front page. Most startups don’t have a lot of money to begin with, so it should be interesting to see if this will be a great help.

There are some great websites out there that help you connect with these such investors. I ended up taking a good look at Crowd Funding Website Wefunder. First off I really enjoyed the color scheme and layout. It is a very clean design with soft blues and greens. There is a big call to action button to signup right at the top, which made it easy for me to signup. The home page displays some startups that have been raising money. Many of them look like they have done a very successful job at raising a good amount of investment.

After your account is all setup, you have the option to continue to fill out your profile. If you plan to invest in some companies you are required to give banking information and tax id. I did not go as far as this, so I am did not get to see the whole funding process. Many of the companies on WeFunder require a minimum of $1000 investment. They have a detailed area that talks about the legal and recommended way to handle the online investment process. I guess that is not the best practice to except investment from many different investors. So they created a consolidation of all the investments in one package that you can get from WeFunder.

One sneaky thing that they do that I did not like is they don’t discuss the fact that you have to front some money to begin the process. They have you create a profile and go through the long process of setting up your startup and then tell you after you are done. Their pricing seems a little steep if you go the consolidating route. If you go the other route, I believe it is $99 plus $26 each investor. Not too bad if someone puts a big chunk of money into your business right?

You can create a profile and setup your startup without accepting investment, but good luck making it to the first page. The website is probably very selective about who they choose the top startups. If you go to their faq page then on the left side go to curration, they have a list of things you can do to help your chances.

Another good website out there if you are looking for investors is It has a very similar concept, but has more of a social interaction. Investors can ask you questions and create updates. You can create a cool company profile that investors can come and look over. One cool thing about Angel List is that they have a large database of startups. You can look through all the great ideas people have and how they are getting funding.

website_designI have been hearing a lot of buzz about this new website building platform called Square Space. I really like using gui programs to make websites come alive, but always skeptical of them at first. Websites are frustrating because they need code to display and are not so graphical interactive as one may think. One simple function like a having a tab slide from one place to another requires lines of javascript code. Arrghhhhh!!! Sometimes I really wish that this wasn’t the case.

So my first impression of square space was really positive. The website is beautifully designed. They stuck with a very contemporary grey scale color scheme and incorporated some super clean transitions. I particular enjoyed there sign up process. When signing up you are taken through a great funnel that asks you to select from very elegant templates. After you have chosen the template for your new website, they ask you for your email and password.

So far so good. I really enjoyed the create account section that uses a dark opacity with very easy to read sign up inputs. After you are allowed registered they create a subdomain for you, which I didn’t like. I want to be able to choose my own subdomain in the sign up process. You are brought to the backend interface where you can edit your website.

A quick tooltip tour goes over some basic functions that was somewhat useful and you are left ready to design your new template website! I was so excited after the sign up I began trying to changing out the photos. I first tried to move one photo from one area to the other. That didn’t work. I then tried to edit some text and move it. That didn’t work. I then tried to just change the picture out that was being used. Guess what? That did not work either. The worst part is the website froze on me and I had to close chrome down and restart from the beginning.

The backend is not very intuitive to use and really difficult to change anything. I was really disappointed because they presented the idea in such an elegant an interesting way, that I think I was overly optimistic for the product. Even with my expectations high, they fell far short of anything that I would ever use to build a website with. I would have to hire someone just to help me use square space. That kinda defeats the whole point in using it right? They demonstrated that they know how to web design, but what about us!

website_designMost great designs are adjustments to already existing ones out there. Web design is not different. One of the interesting thing about websites that they are interactive. They are meant to be used and touched by the visitor making them much more then a pretty picture to look at. Why can’t they be as easy as drawing a picture then?

It is a a strange combo of people that get forced to work together for designing website. You have the designer/artist who cares about the colors, layout, typograhpy, and feel. Then there is the programmer, who cares out functionality and performance. Normally these two people don’t spend much time together, but for a website creation they become best buds. Well… almost best friends.

So where do the designers find inspiration? The place that we always look to is other websites. We see tons of websites all day and come across features and looks that we like all the time. Just a heads up, the most popular websites out there are far from the best designed. The site finds the best  Web Design that scours the web for incredible designs and functionality. I found a trend that they really like fullscreen image type of websites, which is not always the best, but nevertheless they find great ones.

Have you guys ever heard of dribbble? I love this site so much! It is a compilation of the best designers from around the world. You have to be invited to make your own personal contributions, which is one of the reasons why the art is so awesome. You can type a search for anything you are looking for and see all kinds of great designs. Another cool feature is that you can contact that person and hire them if you really like there work. Keep in mind that these guys are in high demand and not so cheap.

What every inspires you remember that there is no wrong answer, only ugly designs. A general rule of thumb is don’t rely on one person’s opinion. You have to hear many and take the average. Best of luck and keep designing!

orangecountyI grew up in the heart of the silcon valley and watched as people from all around the world scurried in to join endless number of start up companies all trying to be the next big thing. They sure chose a great location. The weather is very pleasant, there are tons of trees everywhere and the abundance of cultures keeps things interesting. The tech industry has placed a stronghold on the jobs there and draws the best to come flock to the inviting bay.

But there is a new tech industry that is growing rapidly here in Orange County. Irvine is one of the leading tech areas in Southern California and has a growing buzz about it. Beautiful brand new buildings and palm trees are the scenic view, with pristine coastlines and white sand beaches. A big difference from the beautiful but not so inviting San Francisco beaches. Future job growth is up 33% and its no surprise there has been a consistent rise in businesses opening up, especially in the technology field.

You see Orange County just isn’t about rich house wives. There are some smart people doing some incredible things here. There are some VC firms here as well, that are very difficult to get a hold of I might add. I heard that Octane was a good resource for getting start ups started.

iPhone Jailbreak
If you have an iPhone, chances are you have heard about jailbreaking. There are a few reason why people want to do this to their device. There are many functions on your phone that apple does not allow access to that can be very useful and cool.

I had to see what all the fuss was about. I have a iPhone 4 and use the latest ios 6. The new update is not the greatest, but that is another story. I followed this excellent tutorial by idownloadblog. Remember that if you try to jailbreak your iphone take it slow and always backup your device before using itunes. That way you can always restore your phone later if you don’t like the jailbreak.

You are going to have to install Cydia as well which is basically the app store for jailbroken iPhones. It is not as intuitive and takes much more time getting used to. I would set aside a weekend day if you are going to try to set all this up. Overall I can see the appeal of jailbreaking, but it is very time consuming and you have to have the real drive for technology to make use out of it. Also I noticed that apps are unstable and cause quite a few crashes.

Since IOS 6 is still relatively new there is only a tethered jailbreak out. This means that if you power down your phone or it runs out of batteries, then you have to reboot the phone.

Instead of writing down cool functions that you can do once you have your phone jailbroken, I found this cool video that shows some of them.