Startups are my first love. I've been working with them almost exclusively for over 25 years. I am now in a positiion to do less consulting and more writing and speaking. I have only two clients now, and the work I do for both is quite similar. I have persuaded both of them to abandon traditional broadcast marketing and PR and stake their futures on blog-centered word-of-mouth strategies.
By coincidence, both plan to introduce their products--in limited quantities--tomorrow. Both will do it without traditional press releases, press tours, flashy website streamers, gaudy parties or distribution of clever little chatchkas--all the expensive stuff that are becoming less effective even as I write.
Oh Yeah. One more thing they share in common: both will offer endusers breakthrough technology, or so it seems to me.
Riya, formerly Ojos, is using recognition technology that let's you find all your pictures of yourself, or mom or that conference you attended, in your collection, on their site or in the collections of other cooperating Riyas members. It solves the primary problem photographers have had since early last century. It lets you find the few pictures you want among the thousands of pictures you have, sort of like Google for digital photography. Personally, I think it's as valuable. I have been working with Munjal Shah, it's brilliant co-founder CEO since August and helped him start his Recognizing Devon site, which has already built up a not-insignificant following--not just among the digiratti but among entreprenuers who appreciate his sharing the joy and frustration of his startup experience. I also hlped Riya find the inimicable Tara Hunt, the Canadian Rogue Marketer who has moved to Silicon Valley and has since done a dazzling job of evangelising Riya into the bloging community in the hope that they will spread the word about Riya.
Riya goes live to a few hundred hundred pre-registered alpha users tomorrow. I think this is the beginning of something big.
I started working more recently on a blog strategy with Stanford Professor--author BJ Fogg, who's two-year saga reaches a crescendo tomorrow when YackPack, an extremely simple way for very unsophisticated computer end users to have sequential audio conversations with friends, family and affinity groups. I am in love with the simplicity and elegance of their technology as well as its ability to extend both conversations and storytelling. The YackPackers showed it at the recent DemoFall conference where they were the only company to win both a DemoGod and INNY Awards for Innovation. I showed the product to my 85-year-old mother-in-law who loved it. It's the first time in her life that she actually wanted a computer, because she could talk to us and her great-grandchildren as well as have a very easy way to leave her personal history behind for unborn generations of her family.
I met with YackPack yesterday, and BJ surprised me by starting a blog early this morning. It's excellent, I think, but a bit long, just like this posting is. Other YackPack employees are being encouraged to start their own blogs and I've heard at least two more will soon start. They are not company blogs corporate blog, but individuals blogging about their lives and work. The company is ideally suited for this strategy because it has a remarkably open culture.
YackPack also launches tomorrow to about 1500 users. They've already cut a small handful of nice deals but I cannot yet talk about them.
If their technologies proveto be as good as they look right now, I think both these companies will become models for the Conversational Marketing that Naked Conversations so passionately advocates. I think any entrepreneur, investor, marketer looking for new models on how to market efficiently, effectively and honestly should watch these two companies closely.