Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Create a Wow Technology Conference With Word-of-Mouth Marketing

01 Oct

This is a guest post written by Jennifer Leggio, who writes about enterprise trends around social media, including security, privacy and reputation issues, for ZDNet.

You’re a thought leader in your industry. You want to convene other thought leaders in one place to share ideas with each other and with those hungry to learn. Perhaps you want to showcase some technology. And you want to make some money. Your vision unfolds as a conference, to which you can attract vendors, sponsors, media and attendees. Then you think about the huge events you have attended during your career – Black Hat, DEMO, Interop – and you think there is no way you can create such an event without the backing of a major corporation or media outlet. Wrong.

The era of Web 2.0 has created a freedom for entrepreneurs that never before existed – though that freedom is not without its risk. That said, all you need to get your conference idea off the ground is a nest egg investment, a good “hub” location, a strong network that you can tap for sponsors, speakers and attendees, and the power of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) – which is exactly what it sounds like. And, while unconferences such as BarCamp, PodCamp and WordCamp are impressive, I’m talking about a bona fide technology conference.

Don’t believe me? Look at Defcon as a historic example. The U.S.’ largest hacker con is said to have launched in 1993 out of a BBS that its founders and initial attendees were a part of and grew to more than 8,000 people this year. Defcon is an institution in the security community, and while its sister conference Black Hat is now owned by CMP and also provides Defcon a bit of a captive audience, thousands make the trip to Las Vegas for the hacker con alone.

WOMM is said to have a more credible feel than other more saturated marketing attempts, and what’s great for conference founders is that you can carry the passion that made you launch the event in the first place with that word-of-mouth. Below are three examples of conferences borne of a small idea that have grown successful via WOMM. While all three are somewhat regional, all have attracted a nationwide audience and speaker roster:

Gnomedex – Though more business than technology focused, Gnomedex is an example of how someone with a strong personal brand grew a conference out of primarily WOMM. According to founder Chris Pirillo, his entire marketing model is based on WOMM. “If something I do doesn’t catch on WOMM, I consider it a failure,” he said. For example, Pirillo said that in 2001, Gnomedex was marketed through his Lockergnome mailing list, which still has more than 100,000 subscribers. As social media presence grew, i.e. legitimized blogs and the birth of podcasting, so did Gnomedex’s WOMM vehicles. According to Pirillo, “2005 was our breakthrough year – largely being embraced by an ad-hoc community of bloggers.”

Twiistup – In doing some crowdsourcing, Twiistup came back as the most prominent answer when I asked which conferences have the best WOMM. Twiistup, founded by Mike Macadaan, markets itself as an “alternative” to traditional networking events. On a small scale, it rivals DEMO in that it features several startups selected to debut their products to an audience of media, technologists, venture capitalists and potential angel investors. What it has going beyond DEMO is its more “Webby” feel and almost cocktail party atmosphere.

SOURCE Conference – SOURCE Conference is the parent of security conferences in Boston and Barcelona. It launched via SOURCE Boston in March of this year as the first security conference to combine application security practices with the business of security. Due to my background in security, I’ve worked with the SOURCE team and I saw firsthand how the event grew from zero to a few hundred participants in its inaugural event, through 90 percent WOMM methods, making significant use of social networks such as Twitter. Founder Stacy Thayer did not have the personal brand power of Pirillo when she launched SOURCE, but what she does have is an impressive network of contacts in the security industry that she leveraged to build an advisory board and bring in impressive speakers – both making the WOMM that much easier.

You’re a thought leader in your industry. You want to start a conference. What’s stopping you?

[Disclosure: Jennifer Leggio does pro-bono communications work with SOURCE Conference]

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Student of Fortune is Like eBay for Homework

15 Sep

Student of Fortune
is not a joke or a scam. They’re a service that claims to be the eBay for homework and compares themselves to Yahoo Answers. However, there is a big difference between Yahoo Answers and Student of Fortune. Namely, money. People are actually making good money answering tough questions from students all over the globe.

If You Ask it They Will Answer
The heart of the service is the Post a Question form. This is where students post whatever tough question or homework assignment they have and the amount of money they are willing to pay for the answer. Eventually, if someone out there has the answer, the transaction is completed and the student gets their answer and the person who provided the information gets paid by Student of Fortune, which acts as the broker.

Knowledge is Cash
Many people, known as tutors, are generating decent revenue by simply selling the same answers repeatedly over and over again. They usually pick a topic that they’re proficient in and cover all questions in that subject matter.

There’s even a leaderboard that tracks those who’ve made the most money on the site.

Learning vs Earning
So who benefits the most from this site? Is it the student that actually learns the answers to their questions and completes their homework assignment instead of flunking it? Or is it the one that provides the answer and earns compensation for their effort? Or is it the service itself? What about everyone involved?

Here’s more information from an interview by Aaron Novak from Stickam at our SummerMash LA event.

Final Exam
Some people out there will undoubtedly have problems with this service and what it does. Some will question how ethical it is to allow students to “cheat” and pay someone to do their dirty work. Others will think it’s a good example of true American ingenuity.

What do you think? Is it right for students to buy answers this way? Please share your thoughts in the comments area. No, we will not pay you for that! ;)

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Posted in Web 2.0


18 Sites for Finding Startup Jobs

10 Sep

Though it may seem like many of the job opportunities in the United States have dried up as of late, you can find a wealth of job postings on the Web that may be right up your alley. From programmers to promotions, there are many startup companies looking to hire just the right people for the positions they have open.  These 18 services represent a mixture of well-known mainstream sites and companies that focus on nothing more than listings in the Web 2.0/startup market.

Have you had success using these sites? Tell us more in the comments.

General Job Site Startup Listings - The nice thing about the site is that you have the salary range listed on the summary page as opposed to having to go into each listing. - While they have a startups section, finding Microsoft intermixed in their thousands of listings makes you think it’s more a general technology area. - One of the longest running online job sites has numerous job listings for startups that you can search by company, date, job title or relevance.

Yahoo Hot Jobs - Yahoo’s job listings includes numerous listings for jobs at startups, most of them seem to be centered on the technical side.

Startup Specific - Looking for startups in Asia?  This may be the solution for you. - Focusing on nothing but jobs at startups, CoNotes has been around since 2007. - Browse jobs by city or pull up the category that applies to your skill set. - ejob focuses on staffing needs in and around Silicon Valley. - A one-stop-shop for startups to form business plans, find funding and locate employees that can fulfill their needs. - Aggregates startup listings from a multitude of sites.  You can read a lengthier write up of HotStartupJobs by our own Paul Glazowski here on Mashable. - Our very own marketplace features categories for listing jobs and looking for them also. - Lets you look up jobs by category, add them to your basket as you find ones that interest you and then apply to all of the ones you’ve saved. - Besides offering numerous job listings at startups, they have 225+ interviews with people from some of the companies explaining what they are about and what they are looking for in an employee. - Both startups and potential employees can set up profiles to try to find the perfect match for each other.  The service is completely free to potential employees, but will cost employers to contact potential hires. - A small jobs board with unique listings that you can search by type of job or occupation. - Covers various industries related to Web 2.0 and startups, lets you also browse by job type. - Allows you to search jobs by occupation, location or even what stage of funding they are in. - Provides internship listings for students at certain schools and has job listings you can search by country or occupation.

Image via CoNotes

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