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Polaris

Google I/O by the Numbers... Theme: Scale

Browsing the headlines is a pretty powerful and interesting way to digest Google I/O as they are driven by big, important numbers: - Google Drive : 10m users and coming to iOS / Chrome OS (TechCrunch)

- Gmail: 425m users (TechCrunch)

- Google Apps: 5m businesses and 66 of top 100 universities (TechCrunch)

- Google Chrome: 310m *active* users (TechCrunch)

- Google+: 250m users and 75m daily users (with the integration into search and mail, I still would love to understand what constitutes a true user / true usage). (TechCrunch)

- Google Play: 600k Apps, 1.5B installs/month (TechCrunch)

- Android: 400m activated devices, 1m more each day (TechCrunch)

- Google Nexus 7: $199. A price that makes them able to compete in the tablet market - as cool as Microsoft's new device is, it is rumored to be *more* expensive than the iPad. That won't work.

- Google Glasses: $1,500! Really?

Announcing PostRocket.

Last week we announced an investment in Spindle. Today, I am excited to an investment in another seed-stage, Dogpatch Labs, social media company: PostRocket. PostRocket optimizes Facebook content for brand and page owners. It's a problem those users know too well: 1,000s of fans - often $1,000s of dollars spent - and yet only a small percentage are reached. PostRocket looks at the content, fans, and engagement habits to help brand / page owners create better content, publish more effectively, and ultimately drive deeper engagement. It's also a problem this team knows well: they are smarter about Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm / logic than any non-Facebook employee I know.

It's a big, important idea because it's a big, important question for the majority of Facebook brands and advertisers. I have eaten my own dog food and tested PostRocket with the DogpatchLabs Facebook page. The early results are really outstanding: over a 2.5x improvement in fan engagement.

PostRocket is opening their doors soon. You can register for the beta here. And follow them on Facebook and Twitter. More on TechCrunch.

Announcing Spindle.

It's a bold vision: "build the discovery engine for hte social web"... and that's precisely what excites us about Spindle. Based in Cambridge, MA and started in Dogpatch Labs, Spindle aims to deliver actionable information and news that you wouldn't have found otherwise... using location, real-time data and your social and interest graphs. Today, Pat, Simon, Alex and Alex announce Spindle as the discovery engine for the social web and open to beta registrations:

"We believe that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible via the social web and that discovery needs to be reimagined from the ground up. Location, device, time of day, the structure of the physical world, the social graph, and your interests can uncover better content than keywords. (read more)"

- Spindle on Facebook - Spindle on Twitter

Designing for Mobile: 7 Guidelines for Mobile Apps & Mobile Web

Note: this article originally appeared on TechCrunch: Designing for Mobile: 7 Guidelines for Startups to Follow As an investor, I’ve seen hundreds of mobile application pitches. And as a consumer, I’ve downloaded hundreds more – some out of curiosity and others in the hope that I’ll find something so useful and exciting that I’ll make room for it on my iPhone’s home screen. From both perspectives, I am rarely excited by download numbers. What gets my attention is engagement: how frequently an application is used and how engaged those users are. This ultimately is the barometer for an application’s utility and/or strength of community. And if either of those two factors are strong, growth will certainly come. Just ask Instagram, Evernote, LogMeIn and others.

Creating great mobile experiences requires dedication to building product specifically for mobile. It sounds obvious, but it’s so often overlooked. Mobile users have different needs, desires and environments; and as the application creator, you have different opportunities to create utility and engagement. With that in mind – and with the help of my former eBay colleague and Dogpatch Labs resident, Rob Abbott (founder of EGG HAUS and Critiq), we’ve put together 7 design guidelines to consider when building for mobile.

Just like the presentations on leveraging Facebook (both on-Facebook.com and off-Facebook) and Twitter, success comes from building meaningful experiences that are honest to the native environments.

Read all of the startup presentations: - Leveraging Facebook for Startups: Part II, On-Facebook - How to Leverage Facebook for Startups: Part I, Off-Facebook - 14 SEO Tips for Startups - How to Grow Your Brand on Twitter. 5 Overarching Guidelines. Tons of Examples. - How to Create an Early-Stage Pitch Deck

7 Guidelines to Great Mobile Design

Leveraging Facebook for Startups: Part II, On-Facebook

Note: this article originally appeared on TechCrunch: 10 Ways to Leverage Facebook for Startups: Part II, On-Site Part I: Off-Facebook Strategy Part II: On-Facebook Strategy

Yesterday I discussed how to improve user acquisition, activation and activity by building Facebook directly into your web experience. There is of course another half to the equation: leveraging Facebook.com to expand your reach and engage your users. On-Facebook success is less product-heavy than success off-Facebook, although they both ultimately aim for the same outcome: engagement. While it is as much an art as a science, if you optimize for engagement and continually test your way across Facebook’s myriad of products – you may well find yourself sitting alongside The Rock (Facebook’s best personality?) and Spotify (terrific example of being a platform first-mover).

As a startup, you may not reach the scale Spotify or the brand / reach of Starbucks (27 million fans) – but this guide will help you think about strengthening relationships with your fans, expanding your fanbase and unifying your off-Facebook experience with your on-Facebook presence.

View more presentations from Ryan Spoon

How to Leverage Facebook for Startups: Part I, Off-Facebook

Note: this article originally appeared on TechCrunch: 10 Ways Your Startup Can Hook Into Facebook, Part I: On The Web Part I: Off-Facebook Strategy Part II: On-Facebook Strategy

Having already covered how startups can use search and Twitter to find customers, here’s 10 steps for finding people on another key marketing platform: Facebook Facebook has evolved from a social network into the fabric with which much of the web is constructed: identity, product, data, experience and so on. Even if you chose to no longer use it as a social destination, you would still find immense value in it through your every-day web usage: registration, personalization, sharing, interaction, etc.

This is of course a huge opportunity for consumer-focused startups. Facebook plays a core role in touching each step along the standard product / user funnel:

- Acquisition: virality, referrals, paid traffic - Activation: conversion paths from new to active users - Activity: user engagement and retention

Below is a slide presentation with five ways to think about leveraging Facebook to affect those three steps on your web experience. Tomorrow I will share five ways to find success on Facebook.com.

View more presentations from Ryan Spoon

14 SEO Tips for Startups

Note: This article originally appeared on TechCrunch (“14 Steps to Successful SEO for Startups”). For startups, it is dangerous to entirely separate product and marketing – both strategically and organizationally. A great product isn’t overly useful without an audience. And a great marketing strategy can’t save a poor product. Product and marketing have to coexist.

So when imaging, building and eventually launching your product, it is important to also hone the marketing strategy. There are five core channels:

- Paid marketing (SEM, display, affiliates, etc) - Social & viral marketing - Search engine optimization (SEO) - Partnerships & business development - PR

For early-stage companies, advertising at scale is expensive and consequently difficult. Furthermore, PR and business development become easier efforts as the company matures. So where does that leave you as a resource-constrained startup?

Marketing needs to come from the product itself. Last week I explored the role that social and virals play. And while the tech world is fascinated with social media and major platforms like Facebook and Twitter, we shouldn’t overlook the role of SEO (and consequently Google). Like Facebook and Twitter, SEO is another opportunity to expand your funnel and increase your audience — without an advertising budget! Also like social, SEO is far more effective when built directly into the product (“from the ground up”). Here are 14 guidelines for thinking about SEO.

View more presentations from Ryan Spoon

How to Grow Your Brand on Twitter. 5 Overarching Guidelines. Tons of Examples.

Note: This article originally appeared on TechCrunch ("5 Ways for Startups to Grow Their Brands on Twitter”). Last week I began an effort to answer those questions I get asked most frequently, starting with how to create an early-stage pitch deck. Today, I address the next most popular question: how best to grow your brand on Twitter? Twitter is the ultimate marketing platform. But the scale of Twitter is so extraordinary (250 million tweets / day) that it is actually quite easy to get lost in the noise.

Separating yourself from the masses really begins with the recognition that Twitter is first and foremost a platform for conversation. If you believe that, you avoid the mistake most brands make: treating Twitter as a mechanism to push content rather than create engagement.

And once your goal is to foster conversation and engagement, you can follow these five guidelines:

1. Listen. 2. Be authentic. 3. Be compelling. 4. Find the influencers. 5. Extend off-twitter and onto your site.

In the below presentation, I breakdown these core themes and provides examples of people and companies successfully using Twitter to drive engagement and grow their brands.

How to Create an Early-Stage Pitch Deck

Note: This article originally appeared on TechCrunch ("How To Create An Early-Stage Pitch Deck For Investors"). It is the first in a series of posts / decks that I will be doing on those questions I get asked most commonly. Of course we will start with the question I get most: how to create a great pitch deck!

When raising capital, a combination of your company’s product, vision, team and execution are what ultimately attract investment. And while the pitch deck is ultimately less important than vision and product, it exists to convey both elements and get investors hungry for more.

Like other investors, I come across hundreds of pitches each month — some in person, others in email; some as PowerPoints, and others as full-fledged business plans. Your goal is to craft a deck that is both:

- crisp: succinct enough that it is easily digestible (in person, email, etc)

- and complete: thorough enough that it conveys the big vision and current traction

I looked back on many of the pitches I reviewed over the last couple years (good and bad) and compared it to public pitch decks of familiar, successful companies like Airbnb, Foursquare, and Mint. The output is this guide to creating an early-stage pitch deck. It’s intended for companies seeking seed and series A investments.

There are five core themes followed by a suggested structure:

1. Have a great one-liner 2. Know your audience 3. Keep it to 10-15 slides 4. Beware of the demo 5. Expect the deck to be shared

And remember: it’s the story and the conversation that is important – not the imagery and colors. If you can convey the passion that drives you (and your users / customers!), you will have created a powerful pitch deck.