Business – Mammoth is a smart, more collaborative take on Evernote

mammoth

Ask any Internet power user what their favorite tool is and chances are you’ll invariably get the same response: Evernote, Evernote, Evernote.

Why so much Evernote love? Because the app allows people who deal with a lot of online input — people like me and you, probably — and organize it. It’s a power user’s dream.

But Evernote isn’t the only productivity tool out there. Giving the note-taking service idea a go is Mammoth, a web service and browser extension (dubbed “Mini Mammoth”) that works in a manner very similar to that of Evernote — with some exceptions.

“What we’re building is something that lets you filter and save parts of the world that are most useful to you. We want to simplify your online life.” Mammoth co-founder Amit Narayanan told me.

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Mammoth organizes entires into “Boards”, not notes.

At Mammoth’s core is the idea that the easier it is for users to save the bits of the Internet they find most interesting — text, photos, or even whole web pages — the better their online lives will be.

I hate to evoke Evernote again, but, well — that sounds a lot like Evernote. How does Mammoth set itself apart?

For one, there’s the collaboration aspect. One of Mammoth’s central features is that it allows users to invite others to their boards, letting them work together on projects like house buying and event planning.

And then there’s the clipping. “One of the things I’ve had a problem with with Evernote  is that it’s a great app for note taking but clipping — not so much,” Narayanan said.

I’ve had a few similar experiences. As Narayanan points out, making multiple clips from the same webpage in Evernote creates multiple entires, which never quite made any sense to me. From what I can tell so far, Mammoth simplifies that experience.

So far, reception to Mammoth has been positive, at least according to the students at Stanford and Berkley who have been  testing it out.

My take: As someone who has never quite figured out Evernote, I’m all for competing note-taking services. Mammoth — which is still in beta, mind you — is a worthwhile take on a space that we shouldn’t be quite so eager to surrender to just one elephant-branded note-taking service.

Photo: Flickr: Sam Howzit

Cool Idea – Band’s Crowdsourced Music Video – A Whole Lotta Pointin’ Going On

Get ready to have your mind blown. Dutch band Light Light has created one of the most amazing interactive music videos ever, housed on a site called DoNotTouch.org. The site tracks your mouse pointer throughout the video and shows you where everyone else pointed, as well. You’re asked to signal your answers to certain questions, such as where you’re located on a world map. But you’re also given challenges along the way, like following a narrowing path or not touching a naked woman (thus, it is possibly NSFW). The result is both hypnotic and engaging, which is a rare combo indeed. Watch the video here.

Business – Enloop App Writes Your Investor-ready Business Plan for You

Writing an effective and investor-ready business plan is a lengthy and tedious process. And your business plan needs to answer all the questions about your idea investors and partners may ask.  Abusiness plan is a blue print of a set of business goals, the reasons they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. Enloop helps entrepreneurs figure out if their ideas are viable and good fit for a sustainable business.

Enloop

Enloop’s free business plan writing app automatically writes your business plan and evaluates your odds of success. You start by writing your idea in detail and what your business will do, and calculate how much money you’ll need to get your idea off the ground.

Enloop’s AutoWrite feature automatically generates basic text for each important section of your plan. You can edit the text, delete it entirely or add your own text.

The app will help you understand how well developed your plan is once you complete the process, help you perfect it, and gives you a business plan that you can show to potential investors and partners.

Creating accurate financial forecasts has always been a challenge for most young entrepreneurs. Based on your inputs, Enloop automatically generates Sales, Profit & Loss, Cash Flow and Balance Sheet forecasts on-the-fly for you.

Once the process is complete, the app automatically generates a formatted PDF document  for you— ready to download, print and share at any time. You can share any of your plans with an unlimited number of people.

The basic functionality is completely free and you only pay for more features when you are ready.

via Alltopstartups

Business – Launching a two-sided marketplace: How to kickstart supply and demand

ss coffee meeting

This is a guest post by Oisin Hanrahan, the CEO and co-founder of Handybook, a two-sided marketplace for cleaners, plumbers, and handymen.

Ask a smart investor how they feel about starting a two-sided marketplace, and you’ll likely here the same response: “It’s difficult — maybe impossible.” And they’re right. Two-sided markets, or economic platforms that have two distinct user groups that rely on one another for goods and services, are hard to develop and even more difficult to maintain.

Since co-founding Handybook in January 2012, and a few years prior when I co-founded The Undergraduate Awards, I’ve learned that getting two sides of a market together requires an initial (preferably face-to-face) spark, followed by a unique combination of hack and hustle.

One element of launching a successful two-sided marketplace that is often overlooked is the initial spark, or the little drop of supply and tiny inkling of demand you need to kick your whole idea off into a successful market. There is an over-reliance on using technology to secure these wonderful drips of interest that will eventually turn into the transactions responsible for driving your business.

As a serial entrepreneur, I know we tend to focus too much time on changing increasingly small parts of our product or marketing material, and too much effort on finding ways to scrape listings in the hope that it will somehow negate the need to get out there and just find the right supply. It’s the same as a salesman who thinks that by finding more creative ways to organize his or her files and present materials, it will somehow make the need to do fifty cold calls a day disappear, only to find it won’t — the cold calls still need to be made.

It’s the same with sparking a two-sided market. Technology won’t spark your market. You can scrape listings and figure out clever ways to pull content from other platforms when you’re trying to grow and scale, but you shouldn’t be dependent on these things for multiple transactions. You need something to spark your supply long-term. The right technology and hacks will facilitate growth and scale but it won’t provide that initial spark you need to amplify your supply. You need quality, real-world people who are willing to hustle, both online and in the real world.

When we were first working to develop a scalable two-sided market, it meant going out and scouring to find our initial supply of home professionals. It meant meeting local home cleaning companies and local handymen. It meant spending lots of time in Starbucks buying coffee for maids and asking them who was the best maid they knew and how they cleaned ovens. (I even learned to clean an oven.) It meant meeting local handymen and conversing about the single job they were most proud of.

When Paddy Cosgrave and I launched The Undergraduate Awards, hustle meant we trekked from Dublin to New York to San Francisco and spent time with university presidents, student groups, and professors to explain the value of a global awards program to get our first couple hundred entrants. The tactical way founders of Airbnb, an online community site for finding places to stay, met hosts and photographed spaces to rent in order to build a strong two-sided marketplace. Airbnb’s tactics have since become legendary amongst entrepreneurs.

Is it possible to find this initial spark online? Maybe, but you miss out on so much rich information on the supply side of your market place. If you meet people in person they’ll tell you what they think they want, and from that you can try and infer what they actually think. If you don’t meet them, you’ll miss out on what they think about the other side of your market. But most importantly, by seeking your supply solely online means you compromise quality of your supply, and your future supply will become copies of your current supply. All other things equal, if your current supply is below average then your future supply is destined to be much worse. The bottom line is that you need to find the very best initial supply to seed your marketplace to fuel optimal growth and scalability.

Sparking the right supply on a two-sided market requires an act of magic, as many who have walked the walk can attest. It requires convincing the best supply possible that you will soon have demand and that the initial time-cost of the sign-up and on-boarding process will be well worth it. Then within this tiny window when you have both interest and mind share of quality supply, you need to convince some customers to engage.

A number of startups have successfully launched and maintained two-sided marketplaces, and the ones who took these smart steps from the beginning are seeing the most success now. You can’t start a fire without a spark — and you can’t spark the right supply without hustle.

Oisin Hanrahan is the co-Founder and CEO of Handybook, an online platform for booking household services. Prior to founding Handybook, Oisin founded MiCandidate, a service that provided real-time political content to media companies in 25 European countries. MiCandidate was acquired in 2009. He also founded Clearwater Group, a real-estate-development business in Budapest, Hungary.

Coffee meeting image via LANTERIA/Shutterstock