Category Archives: business

the apps

okay so i have for the longest time struggled with the idea of investing in a wide angle because i love landscape photography but haven’t quite gotten the [very expensive] right tools to optimize my photography for it. and then i was introduced to a slick photo app called photosynth. and really, it’s pretty handy for the on-the-go landscape.

this stodgy manual shooter may have just been converted to her first photo app…

a view from my first blue @stratton



Remember that guy?

Microfinance used to be a big deal. Lauded as a “teach a man to fish” model, it was seen as a way to support the world’s enterprising poor in building sustainable small businesses.

Although microfinance likely existed quite some time before it caught the world by storm, its banner year was arguably 2005 when the United Nations elevated it to world consciousness level by announcing it the year of “micro credit”.

The next year, 2006, Muhammad Yunus, considered the father of microfinance won the Nobel Peace Prize – for peace, not economics (this is something I’m pointing out because while microfinance is an excellent idea in theory with a heart of gold, its actual economic impact is still tbd).

The following years resulted in the springing up of microfinance orientated non-profit organizations. See here for a list of 50~.

Turns out the verdict isn’t as much of a resounding success as the original hype would have had us believe – but hype, media, is always overblown. So let’s take a look now at what folks are saying now.

The Good

There’s still hope and there’s real impact, we just have to regulate better to ensure continued success.

The Bad

The idea undermines itself in practice; the system was too ideal and is corrupted by the players.

Obviously the middle road is a bit of a cop out, so I’ll go ahead and say that I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed, but it’s solid reality check that there is no silver bullet for global poverty.

Plagued by the troubles of execution, all good ideas are wasted without good execution. Execution is hard and considerations of execution should go hand in hand with ideation. Let any product or project manager assure you of that – the devil is alive and well in the details that derail you.

In any case, it’s too soon to call it quits but it’s certainly late enough in the game to realize the deep seated and systematic limitations of implementation and the complexities of local politics and cloudiness of personal profit. The debate, the doubt for now should be taken with a grain of salt. Change, meaningful change, often can take lifetimes — I just hope it’s within mine.


Like IRL


Did you see this? Social Ecommerce is the latest thing by Facebook. You go FB, you diversify that revenue stream.

Celebrity Boxing and Lifestyle Subscriptions


Who doesn’t like getting a present delivered to their doorstep? There’s been a steady but aggressive growth in the luxury goods sample market (beats me what the more official name might be). Birchbox first hopped onto my radar last year and since then I’ve started paying attention. One of the last rounds of demo days in New York by DreamIt Ventures featured another one of these types of monthly sample subscription services which tells me one of two things.

1)      The model is working (a year later), hello copycats

2)      The market, or the people with the money in the market, believe there’s still value to be mined in this space

I’m not saying Birchbox was the first, but it was the first one to market itself in a way that caught my eye. If you actually think about it, it’s hardly new at all. Subscription services have existed for custom beers, bacon, wines, fruits of the month, etc for years. These deals have been around for awhile, just not applied to the luxury space. It’s a clever idea and a clear cut business model. Samples are cheap, and subscriptions with automatic renewals are a clever way of hooking and keeping your revenue stream steady as she goes.

Recently BB managed to snag my attention again via its partnership with Ms. Paltrow’s GOOP. Given their respective target markets, I imagine this would be a great partnership for the both of them.  Looks like celebrity endorsements and curated content is in demand. In any case there’s room to grow here and absolutely in the global sense. Birchbox is on the move. With some serious backers and capital behind them, they’ve just acquired Joliebox earlier this year to get their foot in the European door. I imagine Asia won’t be too far behind. May the fastest player win.

Don’t fret men, in the sea of beauty products out there, there’s also been plenty of new male oriented subscription services featuring “manly” things, too, like…shaving cream, aftershave, and uh, citrus-y smelling products.  You know, because guys like that stuff.

Sean Percival of Wittlebee put together a lovely little matrix on the space awhile ago highlighting the biggest players in 2011. Kissmetrics created a nifty infographic followup to Sean’s comments that summarizes the state of the subscription ecommerce “box” arena as of the end of 2011. More recent data however, is available by CBInsights. You can find up to date graphs on venture funding in this space on their blog here.

List of recent subscription ecommerce subscription sites (thank you quora columbia student…)


Trading Cards

Still Gettin’ Paper…

At a recent meet and greet, I was pretty surprised to see how investors, techies, and treps’ still rely on the good old-fashioned business card. Despite all the hype around cardmunch back in the day, I have yet to see someone actually use it. Of all events, I’d expect the tech startup community to be the first to embrace this…

Maybe it was a great buy for LinkedIn, certainly makes a whole lotta sense – but I honestly can’t name a single person I know who uses this.