Why did Yelp turn down a $550 million + Google Deal?

By Chris in Website News with 0 Comments


Last week various news and startup blogs were speculating about the news of yet another possible Google acquisition – This time of Yelp, the local review site which it turns out, has turned down an offer of $550 million plus earnouts according to TechCrunch at the last minute of signing a deal.

Why would CEO of Yelp Jeremy Stoppleman drop the deal, especially this late in the game after what must have been months of talks between them and Google. I’m sure the details will surface, but until then here are some thoughts which I find interesting:

-Google were about to offer nearly half a billion to be able to take over Yelp and most probably integrate this data into their SERPS. This would have been their second biggest acquisition after YouTube.

-Yelp must have either had a moment of clarity (maybe under valued their business or saw implications which they didn’t want),  had a counter offer from another party (other search engine or social network), wanted a PR stunt to boost their visibility, or wanted to see how much Google valued their turf?

To me this says a lot about where Google wants to be, and how it will want to differentiate itself from its competitors. From a data centric perspective, being able to get real world feedback on offline business brings them one more facet of information which they can use to bring the best search experience. By integrating offline shopping, entertainment and restaurant information / reviews they would have seriously boosted the reach of Google Local, and grabbed even more online real estate.

There are still many areas including local which Google and the other search engines would like to be involved with including social networks, real time social search, mobile, cashback and loyalty shopping, voucher codes, travel, finance and I think it is simply a matter of time until the likes of Bing, Yahoo, Google and Facebook, Twitter all try and integrate into these areas one way or another.

What we have seen in the past, and is still true today is that Google is very much interested in not only being a search engine sending users to their destination, but they want to be the destination too. Actually, they want to be with you throughout the journey from the browser to the call!

With Yelp turning down this deal, we should all keep an eye on whats happening in the local space – Should make for interesting viewing in the next couple weeks or months!


Workout Box – Get Fit Without The Cost

By Chris in Startups with 0 Comments

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WorkoutBox is a vibrant fitness community featuring professional personal trainers, and a whole system of workouts and training aids. Although there are similar sites online such as Traineo, Gyminee, and Sparkpeople I got to meet Simon Turner – one of the founders of Workout Box at a recent entrepreneur meetup.

After quitting his full time job a year and a half ago, Simon has built WorkoutBox along with some professional personal trainers to offer a different approach to the online fitness space.

WorkoutBox features a large range of workouts, which have been designed by expert personal trainers and provide registered users with a step by step plan to achieve their fitness goals efficiently.

There is also a thriving community of fitness enthusiasts and the in house personal trainers are there to provide help and support to members.

You can also follow your progress with the training logs and discuss with the personal trainers to overcome any stumbling blocks.

If you are into your gym / fitness I recommend you check them out at www.workoutbox.com

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Can’t program? Where to find the best talent?

The other day on of our readers Joey sent us an interesting email, about an issue he is facing taking his idea to the next level. As this is a frequent question, we thought we’d share it here.

Joey wrote:

I am a young entrepreneur, and I stumbled across this site today.
You have a great thing going on here.
I have a question, simple to ask maybe more difficult to answer.
I have a lot of my layout done in the physical realm. I’m an idea person. I
play music and I’m busy savvy.

Where do most of these website start-ups find their programmers?
Its hard to believe the idea people themselves are all computer-savvy.

I’m very passionate, full of enthusiasm, and have a partner who is an amazing
computer person. She’s very busy though right now,
so I need to find trustworthy and passionate programmers to work with me as

An answer would mean the world to me!
Thank you for this website ;),

There are many stumbling blocks to starting a web projects, and unless you come from a technical background you will need to either find partners for a joint venture, or look to hire a freelancer or agency to build your website or project (you can also buy a few books and start learning, but we’ll focus on some practical approaches for the time poor).

Finding a joint venture partner is an ideal way to minimize your risk, and is an excellent way to get your project kick started. The best place to get started is in your group of friends, work colleagues, or by checking out the forums available for your topic.

In a joint venture partnership, each member can focus on their core speciality, and because you will be sharing revenues there is an incentive for all parties involved to contribute. The advantage here is that you won’t have to invest in web development, design, SEO, marketing, PR which means you could launch a project much sooner, and at lower cost than if you were flying solo.

Another popular option available is to hire a freelancer. You can either hire a local professional by placing an ad in a local paper, or you can use websites such as Elance.com, gumtree.com, or sitepoint.com. Look out for design contests, and users with a high post count or recommendations.

You can also attract some great talent by targeting your local colleges and universities, students are always on the lookout for after study work, or work experience to pad out their CV’s.

There are many skilled professionals specialising in every area, which you can hire on a hourly or project basis which can provide you with some great work at low cost. Elance is a great starting point, as you can review each provider’s CV, and view feedback from previous projects.
Make sure you consider the provider’s expertise, the feedback received, as well as the location where the provider is from. Also, be prepared to spend more time micro managing, and reviewing when dealing with non English natives, or bargain basement quotes!

Another option available is to use an agency, although this is usually a more expensive option, agencies can provide many additional skills to the table, and their experience can prove beneficial for growing your Start-up. Alas not all agencies are born equal, so make sure you always ask for references from happy customers.


Feedback Army – Crowdsourcing Usability Testing

By Chris in Resources, Startups with 3 Comments


Raphael Mudge the founder of Dashnine Media contacted us about his latest venture, Feedbackarmy.com

Usability testing, user reviews and focus groups are recommended to ensure the success of your projects, and will enable the identification of problems and issues early on. Unfortunately usability testing can be expensive, and finding the right user sample, organising user surveys, can be time consuming and over the budget of many smaller startups (and many large companies!).

Feedback Army takes usability testing to the next level, and enables you to submit a website, survey questions, and get up to 50 responses within days – Not weeks.

Feedback Army taps into crowdsourcing through the Amazon Mechanical Turk webservice, which enables it to leverage an on-demand and scalable workforce which is paid per HIT (or task). This is a great way to get access to a huge workforce, which can execute tasks within minutes for a few $$$.

Feedback Army sent us an invitation to try out their service, and within two minutes we had submitted our survey. We checked again a day later, and we had 10 responses waiting full of interesting feedback from users – Not bad!

feedbackarmy results

The service starts at $7 for 10 up to $33 for 50 responses – This is really affordable, and you will find that this is a great way of getting real world feedback at short notice – Ideal for testing anything from offers, landing pages, websites, the possibilities area endless.

One element I would suggest to be added to the service would be an option to segment responses by demographic – answers from 10 random users has value, but feedback from targeted users is ultimately more powerful.

So don’t delay, check out the service at feedbackarmy.com and use it to improve your products, services, and websites.


Looking Ahead To 2009 – Lets Make More Entrepreneurs

By Chris in Website News with 2 Comments

Hello Entrepreneurs, and Happy New Year! 2008 was has seen radical changes in the world, many friends, contacts, companies have had to cut down their operations, and many have had to face difficult situations. But with change comes opportunity, and I have seen some great examples laid off staff building their own projects and startups, and finaly starting what they always wanted to do in the first place!

With the economy in crisis, and a new year ahead of us its time for reflection, new resolutions, as well as planning for the year ahead.

So what is Indie Startups going to be doing in 2009?

Well, first off we are back from holiday, therefore will be able to blog more frequently about the latest bootstrapped startups, and inspirational projects going around. Also I am very keen on helping startups take their projects to the next level, so will be publishing a series of guides covering important topics from finding good JV partners, to building your audience, and ensuring that your project either generates revenue or looks attractive to investors.

Also this blog is very much about your startup projects – Therefore use our contact form to let us know about your projects so that we can feature the best ones and get you added coverage.