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Microsoft offers free software development incubator for entreprenuers (2009)

One thing I have learned since being in NYC is that despite an image of high  costs, free is everywhere if one looks carefully.  Microsoft has made free an easier search, at least for software developers.  Microsoft announced the BizSpark program, a business incubator where entrepreneurs can develop software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) using Microsoft servers and resources like Azure and Visual Studio.  The 3 year program is a free to start ups, with a minor exit fee upon completion. During program membership, start ups will have access to Microsoft developers and associated partners, adding visibility to the start up and excellent advisory aid.  Microsoft started the BizSpark program as a means for start ups to create software while reducing the initial development costs.

At a Microsoft Gallery, a short term loft display as part of NYC’s Internet Week, Brian Johnson, Start Up Evangelist at Microsoft, explained the conditions of program. Microsoft is offering the program for small businesses that has less than $1 millions in revenue, that has been in operation for 3 years or less as a privately held company, and that offers software as its core product offering.

As a small business I really appreciate the  effort from Microsoft. They have made some really interesting efforts into small business support that is not heralded in the media often.  Zimana, has used Office Live for hosting the company website  (UPDATE: Officelive has been discontinued in 2012, replaced by Office 365, which has no free hosting.)

For more information check out this BizSpark site.  Also, learn more about Microsoft’s other start up services at the Start Up Zone.


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Linked In — A starting point for networking online

Note: This post was updated as of November 21, 2014

Linked In, the business online network where professionals search for positions, sales, and information, reached the 40 million use mark recently. I have maintained a profile there since 2007.

A lot has changed over the years. Back at the beginning, I enjoyed participating in the Q & A sessions.  Over time, the Q& As have been removed – today, users can create posts.  Yet even today I have noticed that there are many users who still have some usage questions or are so 1990s with just posting a profile and not developing the details.

In response, I am borrowing a perfect quote from Alan Weiss in his book Million Dollar Consulting, pg 108 —

Joining organizations and taking the time to network is an investment, no different form buying office equipment or creating a marketing piece. You are negligent if you don’t focus on achieving the maximum return from that investment.”

So for convenience I have added the link to the Linked In usage video. The short webeo (Okay, “webeo” is my own slang, but I get rights to any usage of the word on a T-shirt!) explains how one develops their network to best use. You can see the webeo (Okay, I’ll stop with the webeo!) here.

May the winds blow good networking and good fortune your way!


Can passion be the reward for customer service? Yes, indeedy!


Zappos carries many products, but is known for retailing shoe brands such as Kenneth Cole
Zappos carries many products, but is known for retailing shoe brands such as Kenneth Cole

Eric Anderson of Scientifically Speaking, a presentation consulting firm based in Indianapolis, IN, sent me this Business On Main video link on Zappos, the shoes company based in Nevada which has received a plethora of media coverage, to say it softly! Zappos, started by Tony Hsieh in 1999, maintains a culture of passionate employees who show not so much passion for shoes, but mostly passion for customer service. From tempting non-motivated employees to quit early with a $2000 payment to the example in the video of verifying product availability regardless of the outcome, Zappos has created a loyal customer following through extreme surprise and delight.

The example of finding a customer request in spite of sale is also interesting because it is 180 degrees from the typical business mindset, as contemplated in this Business Week comparison of The Art of War vs  The Bhagavad Gita (You can read the associated Business Week article Karma Capitalism on how business is changing its inspirational imagery and references. Both articles are in the October 30th 2006 issue).  Business leaders had been popular to quote SunTzu to fight “only when a victory is possible”–thus only act when the benefit, a profit, is clear in the endgame.  This counters the philosophy in The Bhagavad Gita comments on doing good regardless of self-reward.  Helping customers regardless of the sale is doing good (helping the customer) regardless of self-reward (a sale for your firm).

How do you bring passion to your customer service without regard of reward?

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Another Top 10 at Autoblog

Ragtop memories
Ragtop memories

Wow, someone is following Casey Kasem’s footsteps! After the Top 10 Forgotten Hatchbacks list (see my post), Autoblog has created a Top 10 Forgotten Convertibles list. Just in time for Memorial Day, too!

What’s your favorite car memory? Was there any marketing effort with your fav? If so, was the commercial/ad affect your interest in the vehicle?

Enjoy the list!

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