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Squeeze

As a senior in college, I am getting closer and closer to the day I have to take responsibility for my own finances. Luckily we live in a world with effective and innovative tools that can help me do so. One of those tools is an app called Squeeze.

Squeeze is a personal finance app that is designed to help users manage their finances. Tasks it helps with are saving money, reducing debt, and growing wealth by giving you access to price comparison tools for all of your bills. As well as other tools. Such as a spending tracker, financial analytics, and coaching on how to do these things.

Squeeze will sync users’ online banking, credit cards, consumption habit, and evaluate pricing on the users’ recurring bills. The creators of Squeeze look at the app as being an all in one financial solution to managing their personal finances. Squeezes’ financial management app has often been compared to other sites like Expedia and Travelocity. This app also brings together the users mobile phone, the internet, and internet plans all into the app and compare their prices to others constantly.

I personally feel that this app would be a great tool for anyone to use in order to manage their finances effectively and in a new way.

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Branding Your Startup

In my previous post, I explored some solid tips for building a marketing strategy for your startup business. One thing I didn’t touch on in that post but is absolutely critical to the long-term success of your startup is branding. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, branding is how you define your business and create its identity. It’s everything from your logo and your color scheme to the photos your use on your website and the tone of voice you write content in. Some of the most successful businesses have risen to success because branding was at the heart of their strategy. It’s more than just how your business looks from the outside, it’s about building a relationship with your customers. Here are some tips to get you started on branding your startup:

Define and Personalize Your Business

This is a fairly straightforward step that you can keep as simple or complicated as you like. It is essential for you to know your business inside and out. As entrepreneurs, this should come easier for us. Our business ideas are often born out of passions and dreams. Having this close emotional connection to our businesses will make it easier to accurately define and personalize the brand. Once your business has been defined in detail (you know your product, your customers, your market, etc.), begin developing its personality. Consider the values of the brand, the type of people that it would attract, how it might interact with someone if it was a physical human being. Relating to your business in this way will give you a clear focus moving forward.

Create the External Image

The logo, color scheme, font choice, etc. are all important elements that will give customers the first impression of your brand. Consider how some popular brands you know of use visual elements to convey their brand’s personality. For example, Coca-Cola’s use of the bright red color in their brand conveys the idea of energy and strength, compared to Pepsi’s use of blue which often is seen as a calming color, might be a contributing factor for why Coca-Cola is ranked as the #4 most valuable brand. The psychology of color as it relates to marketing and branding is actually quite fascinating, and there are plenty of resources out there on the web if you’re interested in learning more.

One thing you want to avoid when creating your logo is copying other successful brands. You’re not going to get any closer to the success of Apple just because your logo looks like Apple’s logo. Go back to your brand personality and sketch out some logo ideas (even if you think you can’t even draw a stick figure, try sketching some logo designs anyway. They will be immensely helpful if you hire a graphic designer). Figure out what differentiates your business from other businesses and work that into your logo design.

Develop Your Brand Guidelines

After you’ve thought through your brand’s personality, how it looks, feels, speaks, and sounds, you’re going to want to compile that into one master document called your brand guidelines. This is what you will refer to as you continue to build your brand in order to maintain consistency. A few things it should include are your fonts, specific colors (hex codes or RGB values), different versions of your logo for different backgrounds and uses, taglines, images, and tone of content. Hubspot has put together a great list of some stellar brand guidelines to reference as you’re creating your own. This may seem like a lot of work at the start, especially if your startup is just a team of three – obviously everyone is on the same page about the brand, so why bother with the document? I’m hoping your obvious response to that situation is to know that at some point, your business will expand, new employees will be hired, and you’re going to need some way of quickly communicating to them your exact expectations when it comes to maintaining your brand. Having a set brand guideline also helps prevent “cheating” on your brand – with everything spelled out, you’ll be held more accountable to maintaining consistency with your brand, and it’s the brand consistency that leads to success.

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Twitter

Social Media has taken an extremely important role in modern culture and has become a brewing ground for ideas, bussiness, and celebrities.  Twitter has been particularly instrumental in the rise of Social Medias.  Twitter is a service which allows people to create accounts and post short messages for any of their followers to see.  This simple platform has created many opportunities for thousands of people.  More so, Twitter is used for a variety of uses.  Celebrities (even our president) are known to use Twitter as their mouthpieces, individuals tend to use Twitter to update their friends and families on not only what they are doing but creative or entertaining things they run across on the internet, and businesses use Twiter, among other social medias to promote themselves or their services.   Regardless of who is using Twitter or for what, Twitter has become an extremely useful tool for the spread of communication in the Social Media world.

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YouTube is finally using their spanking belt.

YouTube has been the monopoly of online video uploads and watching for years on end. Whenever people think to watch a video, either for pleasure, or for knowledge, YouTube is the place to go. Being such a huge company that allows people to upload their own personal content onto their site is taking a risk. Their are certain security checks in place of course. You can report inappropriate content or a fake video, but being such a huge company, their was a lot of room to sneak through the cracks and take advantage of the system. Lately YouTube has been cracking down on two types of videos on their platform. The first platform that they started to crack down on were the videos that had algorithms attached that enabled them to have more views than would be possible normally. Taking down and banning those particular videos or channels, YouTube is hoping to “clean up their streets.” The more controversial topic in the YouTube community is the demonetization of videos with controversial topics. YouTube is taking videos that have controversial topics, mainly news channels and demonetizing their videos so that the creator does not receive any ad revenue from that video. This has created a crack in the road in the YouTube community. YouTubers are offended because they now feel like they do not have the freedom of speech and will be limited to what they can say in their videos now. Many big name YouTube celebrities and other people have left YouTube in order to prove a point to the company that they need to treat their content creators with a little more respect and admiration for all of the different content that they upload. One star that left the platform was Phillip DeFranco. YouTubers are crying out to the company to stop trying to control their videos and to let content creators create.

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Shyp: On-Demand Shipping

In today’s world of e-commerce, shipping goods is a critical function in many businesses.  Unfortunately, this is something that many people find to be a hassle, but must do in order to stay in business.  This struggle is particularly present among eBay sellers, but is also evident in small and large businesses alike.  Kevin Gibbon, founder of Shyp, experienced this problem frequently as a power seller on eBay.  He would sell products, but found shipping the products to be expensive and inconvenient.  In fact, he would spend more time shipping than selling.  This Internet-entrepreneur began Shyp as a way to solve this common frustration.

Shyp makes shipping products as easy as taking a picture of the shippable good.  Using the Shyp app, an individual, seller, or business in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago can take a picture of the good they wish to ship and enter in the recipient’s information.  Within twenty minutes, a courier from Shyp will come to pick up the good, professional wrap it, and then box and ship the good.  The idea is to make shipping an on-demand service.  This takes interactions with the post office out of the equation.  They hope to transform the shipping industry just like Uber revolutionized the transportation industry.

This startup has been very successful and recently partnered with eBay.  According to an article written by Alex Heath from the Business Insider, this is one of the top ten most innovative apps in the world.  The team at Shyp continues to improve their service by offering features such as built in package tracking and the ability to ship packages by user name instead of address.  Presently, Shyp charges a flat rate of $5 per package plus the shipping rate.  Although they currently only service San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, they hope to continue expanding and serve many more cities across the United States.

Shyp has evidently been a successful Internet-based business.  Although $5 may seem like a steep rate to pay for a courier shipping service, many sellers and individuals appear to view the convenience as worth the extra money.  After exploring their website and reading a couple reviews, I am convinced that their success is due to them identifying a note-worthy problem and designing a solution that works in places where this problem is wide-spread.  By solving a pain that numerous people can identify with, they have grown quickly and made shipping an on-demand service.

More information regarding Shyp can be found on their website here.

Resources:

Shyp: https://www.shyp.com/

Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-10-most-innovative-apps-in-the-world-2015-10/#shyp-4

 

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Acorns: Helping People Grow Wealth

Opening and growing a savings account is something that many young people struggle with.  Unfortunately many college students graduate with debt, which makes saving difficult.  Even if one wants to begin saving, taking the initial step of setting aside money can be a challenge.  Cofounders Walter and Jeff Cruttenden recognized this wide-spread problem and decided to take advantage of the opportunity.  A few years ago they built Acorns, which is a micro-investing platform where everyone can begin investing.

The Acorns platform works by automatically investing small sums of money for its users based on their spending habits.  When initially setting up an account, Acorns requires the user to add his or her credit card or bank account information, so that they can help the individual save.  For every purchase that a user makes, Acorns rounds up the transaction amount to the next whole dollar.  The difference after rounding up is added to the user’s Acorns account where it will grow.  The company collects information on users’ investment preferences and risk tolerance, so that they can wisely invest the user’s money in a collection of six exchange trade investment funds.  If a user wants to save more money, they can make additional deposits directly into their Acorns account.

Acorns charges a low monthly fee of $1 per month for the services it provides, but allows college students to use the platform for free.  This app provides young people with a great way to begin investing and those who are afraid of investing with a great way to get started with only a small amount of money.

According to CNBC, this Internet-based business is “the new millennial strategy for investing.”  ABC News puts it in perspective by explaining that “if you set aside $5 every couple days you would have set aside over $1000 in a year.”  Acorns explains that they want to look after the financial best interests of “the up-and-coming,” and they accomplish this through the power of micro investing.

Acorns has evidently been a successful Internet-based business.  After exploring their website and reading some reviews, I am convinced that their success is due to them identifying a wide-spread problem and developing a simple solution that requires next to no work on the user’s end.  By solving a pain that numerous people can identify with, they have grown quickly and made investing easy for many.

More information regarding Acorns can be found on their website here.

Sources:

Acorns: https://www.acorns.com/

Mashable: http://mashable.com/2017/03/25/savings-apps-review/?utm_cid=hp-hh-pri#X8wCjADZgsqo

 

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Duck Duck Go

Duck Duck Go is a search engine who’s purpose and focus is protecting the privacy of their consumer.  Many search engines increase their effectiveness by tracking and recording what it is their users do.  Duck Duck Go does not do this.  They are so focused on protecting the privacy of their users that they sacrifice some of their effectiveness as a search engine to do this.  Their dedication to security has earned them a niche market and a extremely passionate fallowing.   In modern Entrepreneurship finding a good niche and owning it seems to really be a major key to success and that is exactly what Duck Duck Go has done.

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