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Startup Strategies - How to make your mark at a conference

When you’re building a company, you don’t have time to attend every conference out there. Most advisors will tell you to attend 1-2 conferences each quarter, and to choose those that are as specific to your industry as possible. That’s pretty good advice, but go deeper. Here’s our advice:

1) Value your time and money - figure out if there’s a specific connection or meeting that you can set up before you commit to go, especially if you have to fly or the entrance is pricey. If you’re not sure if you’ll get value out, just don’t go. There’s no sense in wasting time, even if you’ve already wasted money. 

2) Choose smaller niche conferences. Our experience is that we make better, deeper connections and learn a lot more when we attend smaller conferences. If there are 300 people attending, chances are good that you can sit down with an industry expert or the CEO of a company you admire. If there’s 3,000 people there, you’ll probably only catch that person on his way to the bathroom. 

3) Connect with the organizer. This is the key person who knows all the established people in the industry, and has spoken to or has a good relationship with the keynote speakers. He’s a natural connector and networker - that’s why he’s the organizer. And, lucky for you, his main goal is to have a successful event - one where partnerships and relationships are built. The good organizers are usually happy to make casual introductions before or at the event.

Here’s an example of how these three points worked for us at one recent conference. We were interested in going to Social : Mobile : Payments in Orlando, FL. From Miami, it’s an easy drive and we figured that if it didn’t pan out, we could just make a day trip out of it.  We called Bruce Burke, the conference organizer, to find out more before committing, and to tell him about split(able). He gave us a clearer picture of his confirmed attendees, and a couple of days later, he offered to give our team some sponsored entrances. Nice, and thanks to Intel! So we were in.

At the conference, Bo Fishback from Zaarly gave his presentation on how we don’t really know what Social Payments means, or what they’ll look like. Since Bruce the organizer already knew about split(able), he spontaneously invited us to give a “pop up” demo. So, right before Ben Milne from Dwolla took the stage, we jumped up front. No prep - we just talked, showed a live demo, and took some questions. The crowd was mostly people from credit card networks, fin tech companies and banks, so right up our alley. It was an awesome guerilla marketing opportunity, and it couldn’t have gone better if we had planned or paid for it.

Lesson learned is to make good friends with the conference organizer. Let them know why you’re there and what you do. Authenticity is key - when you reach out, don’t ask for or expect anything. Good things come from wanting to learn and connect.

 

PandoDaily

When PandoDaily contacted us for a story, we were totally floored. In their first month, Pando has attracted some of the best talent in tech writers out there, and they’re just getting started. After my phone interview with Erin Griffith, I kept rewinding our conversation in my head, searching for hints that she got what we’re trying to achieve, the problem we aim to solve. 

When this write up came out, there was no question that Erin got it. We’re thankful and humbled that she reached out to us, and for the awesome write up she put out there.

"Retailers looking to crack the “social shopping” movement, or as some call it, s-commerce, often results in mashing together the elements of social media with the elements of online retail. They’re two separate worlds that can’t be Frankensteined into one. But social shopping succeeds when each side uses its unique attributes to benefit the other. Social networks can facilitate shopping, in the case of a Pinterest or Polyvore, for example. And online retailers can facilitate socializing. If successful, Split(able) will be one example of the latter."

We’re going to fix Frankenstein and turn him into the Prince Charming of s-commerce.

Here’s a link to the article - let us know what you think @splitableapp

http://pandodaily.com/2012/02/23/splitable/

Thank you to PandoDaily, and especially to Erin Griffith for reaching out and sharing our story!

Thrillist… this is how they roll

My day started with this in my inbox. Subject line Fwd: NATION: The Most Comfortable Sweatshirts On The Planet. 

Granted, hoodies are the go-to look for developers, but it’s not exactly a look that I rock every day. Then, I noticed another forward, and another. Same subject. Okay, so I open it up, and this is what I see in the email. 


Nice! Thrillist sent us out to their Nation. Probably even cooler than being shared with all the Thrillist hipsters is that it was a total surprise for us - no email, no heads up from the Thrillist team. We didn’t even email or contact them for coverage. That’s just how they roll - if they like something, they just tell you about it, no strings, no pitching needed. We like.

Thank you!

Here’s a link: http://www.thrillist.com/money/nation/splitable_services_websites

money…nation…split(able). looks good to us!

Taming high ticketing fees

The circus has made its way into Miami AA Arena, bringing with it ferocious lions, high-flying acrobats and lovable clowns.  Who doesn’t love the circus, right? As fun as it all is, you can’t help but feel gypped by the ticketing fees. No clowning around, they add up fast, especially when you’re footing for a family of 4 or 5.

Let’s talk actual numbers here and use a family of 4 as an example. On Ticketmaster, individual tickets for the circus retail for $30.  Their service fee is $8 per ticket (or 27% of the total cost), plus a $4.75 processing fee per order.  This means that a family of 4 would pay $156.75 just for tickets, with ticketing fees adding a whopping $36.75 to that cost.

One group just used Splitable to get a group of 20 tickets and took advantage of group discount tickets. (You only need 10 tickets to get the group discount from your local venue group sales office.) The same $30 tickets with a group discount are $27 each, which saves $3 per ticket.  Splitable’s processing fee per ticket is a flat 5%, plus 30 cents per transaction, or $1.35 per ticket plus a 30 cent transaction fee. So, for every family of 4 that used Splitable for circus tickets, they saved $43.05 (the total savings for the group was $215.25) using Splitable to split the cost of group tickets. Think of all the popcorn, cotton candy, and circus peanuts that could be bought with that. I get a tummy ache just thinking about it. 

What are your thoughts on online ticketing fees? What events would you go to if you didn’t have to worry about sky-high ticketing fees? Would you want to set up a group if you didn’t have to pay for everyone?

Collaborative Consumption - the future of sharing

Collaborative Consumption, #Collcons, is the idea that technological innovations can facilitate share, swap, and barter exchanges among friends and even perfect strangers. It’s the idea that society is moving towards a “we” as opposed to “me” mentality, that exchanging goods and services is an all-around beneficial idea, and technology makes it happen. It’s beneficial to the planet, to society, and your wallet. All good things.

Collcons also highlights the difference between owning something and having access to it, and that it may be more beneficial to just be able to use something rather than own it. How many things sit around your place or office that you hardly use, or worse, that you used once and that’s all you needed? Some cool examples of companies in this field are ZipCar/Get AroundAirbnbThredUp, and Rent the Runway

How could you get going? Start by being a bit neighborly. If you read the paper first thing in the morning, but your neighbor doesn’t get to his until the evening, you could offer to split the cost of a subscription. If you like getting coffee from Intelligentsia or a fun Birchbox of beauty samples, but don’t want to get a delivery (or expense) every month, why not split the cost of these fun monthly treats with a friend and get it every other month? Same for a community food share - get a full box instead of a half box — you’ll get a lot more for your money. Want to check out an awesome concert or game that’s coming up? Save big with group discounts by getting more than 10 tickets, plus avoid the absurd 20%+ online ticketing service fees. There’s tons of potential for sharing out there without all the waste. Just enough of what you want and nothing more. 

Check out the Collaborative Consumption movement on twitter or the website. It’s a fascinating development within social commerce, and we’re excited to be a part of it. 

Do you have other every day examples of how collcons can be applied in your life? Share your ideas or tweet to us!

How to Plan a Bachelorette Party

If you’re the Maid of Honor, your moment to shine is not at the wedding. Nope, that’s HER time to shine. Your time is at the bachelorette party or the shower you’re planning. So, for those of you figuring out the when, where and what, this is for you. We’ve done all the legwork to help you figure out the easiest way to plan the best party a girl could ever want.

Getting started:

Before you get going, it’s a really good idea to gauge everyone’s appetite and tastes.

  • Start by asking the bride what she has in mind. If it’s for the bachelorette, is Vegas in the cards? An intimate dinner with friends? A night out on the town with the girls? If it’s a shower, does she want a lunch, a dinner, a tea, or maybe something a bit more cheeky…
  • How many people are we talking about? Will family be invited, or just friends?
  • Right before the wedding or a few weeks in advance?

Ramp up:

Before you get started, figure out how much time you want to put into the whole gig. When I was an event planner, I always started by figuring out the budget and the time frame available. If you have loads of time on your hands (and money), you can plan everything from scratch. If not, consider going somewhere that will take care of all the details for you.

For example, for bachelorette party packages in Miami, here are some options:

  • IronFlower Fitness has multiple party packages, and you can split the cost with Splitable: 
  • Spa Packages: MySpa Miami has Wedding Packages available. The ultra luxe Spa at Mandarin Oriental also has full and half-day packages available, and they even have private suites where you and your group can do mini-spa sessions with Champagne to your hearts content.
  • Get a table just for the girls at a nightclub. It may be the first time you’ve paid for a table, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. Expect to pay at least $250 for a top night club table to start and dance the night away. Tip: if you’re planning to go crazy, best to arrange a limo for everyone to get home safe after all the fun.
  • Get on a boat and just hang. If the bachelorette wants to just catch up with everyone, best to get bikinis out and get some rays while you’re at it! Golden Yacht Charters has more than 2 dozen yachts available for half and full day charters, and you can split the cost with your friends online! 

Hands down, the best thing about a pre-packaged plan is that you know all of the costs pretty quickly without many surprises. If you’re going up for planning a bachelorette party or shower from scratch, here’s my go-to checklist:

  • Budget
  • Date, time and how long
  • How many people, list of invitees
  • Venue
  • Food
  • Theme/Decorations/Flowers
  • Entertainment/Music
  • Transportation
  • Gifts

If you have more to add to this list, especially any ideas for pre-packaged parties, let us know! Even if you’re not in Miami, we’d love to hear your fun ideas!

Organizers Rock

In every group of friends, there’s a few people who take on the roll of the organizer. They’re the ones who figure out where everyone’ll meet up on Friday night, who are pulling together the next trip for everyone (skiing! Vegas!) - they coordinate the good times that keep us looking forward. I’ve always been that person in my group; I love getting friends together. After college, I spent my first few years working as a professional event planner. Planning, coordinating, communicating, collecting - this is a routine I have down pat. Technology helped make all of this easier, and my go-to solutions were Evite and PayPal. But, the disconnect between invitations and payment made the process choppy and much more work than it should be.  The payment part of organizing is much harder than the invitation part. It’s so annoying and painful that, if you think about it, chances are good that you intentionally avoid having to organize for your friends just because you don’t want to front money for your friends. After doing all the work, it stinks when you end up having to front money for the people who *promise* to pay you later. 

Splitable pulls all of these elements, invitations, payments and communication, together in one hub that’s fast and simple to use. Just start a team, invite your friends, and pay your share. When your friends get their invitation, they’ll be able to see what’s being planned, pay their share to rsvp, and leave questions or comments for the team - all in one place. And, even though everyone commits to pay when they rsvp, we don’t actually charge your group until it’s completely full, so everyone can feel comfortable knowing that it’s all or nothing.

To all the organizers out there, we’re aiming to make it easier for you and your friends to get together, so you can do so more often.

Do you have any stories, good or bad, from your experiences as an organizer? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter