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Startupbin

Blog about the web and startups, from Finland. By Timo Paloheimo

Do Startups Need Launch PR?

Earlier, I wrote about how much great PR Finnish travel startup Tripsay got when It launched. There is a great post in Vierityspalkki (in Finnish, sorry) about how Tripsay worked to get all that PR.

I thought what they accomplished was great and must have done wonders for the company. Until I just read Seth Godins post: the myth of launch PR, in which he reminds that great companies do not need big launch PR. He list such companies: Apple, Nike, Wikipedia, Google and Microsoft. In fact, chasing after PR might distract a startup from more important matters.

I think Godin has a good point: in the long run, startups don’t need big launch PR. But in the short term it might help in getting investors and new people to try a new service.

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Startups from Finland: MySites in Twitter Interview

This is the first in my Interviews of Finnish startups using Twitter. The idea is to keep things simple: One Tweet per answer, no editing.

First up is Ramine Darabiha from MySites. The method of interviewing through Twitter needs some more practice and some of the answers were more than just one tweet, but nevertheless a good concept that I will definitely continue using in the future.

The Twinterview with Ramine Darabiha from MySites

startupbin @mysites So, here goes: What is MySites? Read more…

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Google minus Google v2 launched

Google minus Google, a search engine that lets you Search with Google without getting results from Google sites such as Knol, Blogger and YouTube has become an unexpected hit. After the launch on Monday thousands of people from all over the world have used the tool and it has been a topic in numerous blog posts and discussions on Friendfeed.

After the launch, several people have suggested that I should have used Google Custom Search (cse) to do the job. After some hard detective work I have swithed to CSE. Detective work – you ask? Yes, the reason for my initial solution to just use the basic Google search engine and remove the google sites in the query (using “-site:google.com etc”) was not technical. I needed to gather all the domains Google owns before I could use cse.** The list of Google domains in the exclude list of Google minus Google contains more than 2500 domain names. And it needed some work to compile. I’m sure I have missed something, though.

Enjoy the new and more useful version two of Google minus Google.

** For you techies out there: cse doesn’t allow wildcard usage in the top level domain (like google.*), but it can be used in the normal query.

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Google Minus Google: Google Search Results Without Content From Google

Inspired by an article in NYT about Google becoming a media company, I decided that something had to be done. So I created a way to Search with Google without getting results from Google sites such as Knol, Blogger and YouTube.

The result is Google minus Google.

UPDATE: Google minus Google has gotten a huge start: 3000 visitors in the first day! The visitors came mainly through a few Finnish IT news sites: Digitoday, that interviewed me this morning, IT-Viikko and Tietoviikko. I’ve also updated the filters to include some Google domains: Jaiku, Gmail and Blogspot

UPDATE 2: Version 2 of the launched. Now built with Google Custom Search Engine.

UPDATE 3: Miguel Helft continued the original story in the New York Times blog with an article about Google minus Google. He had received a statement from Google: “For years, users have been able to customize their experience via the advanced search feature within web search, and we welcome all efforts that help deliver useful information and expand user choice.” So I guess I’m of the hook for now.

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TripSay Launches – Gets Good PR

TripSay, the Finnish social travel startup, that I’ve covered a few times before has opened up to public beta.  The company has done good PR work, since the launch is covered – among others – in two of the biggest startup blogs TechCrunch and Mashable. The launch story also made it onto Techmeme.

Overall the launch has gotten quite a lot of nice publicity. Most of the reviews have been positive, although some have questioned the business models of social travel sites in general, which was not a problem back in January when I did in my first post about Tripsay (It was called Vailoma back then).

Anyway, Congratulations to Leo and Juha and the rest of the TripSay team for the launch. Too bad I’ll miss the launch party tomorrow. Also remember that the work has just started.

See what other people are talking about the Tripsay launch:

Techmeme discussion
Discussion on Friendfeed
Google Blog search

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Startups From Finland: Open Problem Bank – Good Idea Waiting To Become Modest Failure

Open Problem Bank is a Finnish startup in pre-alpha phase, seeking seed funding and recruiting staff and board members. The company is hoping to create a crowd-sourced database of technical problems of any kind. From the Open Problem Bank website:

Open Problem Bank is a project that aims to collect open technical problems into a searchable database for the public to use freely. People are invited to submit problems into the bank. The problems submitted in the bank should be ideas of devices that somebody could design and build. You don’t have to know how the device you have in mind works, you just have to know why it would be needed or why it would be useful.

The company is founded earlier this year by a Finnish Business Intelligence Specialist Nisse Suutarinen who has been very kind in posting a preliminary business plan on their site. The business plan reveals that they are seeking a seed funding of 50000USD, which would give an investor 25% of equity. The same 50k would also cover the costs of getting the service to beta and also running costs for the first year. Doesn’t seem that much, does it?

Good idea, what about the execution?

The idea of the Open Problem Bank is good. The idea was awarded at Cambrian House, a site that is focused on developing crowdsourcing-based companies. I just feel that Mr. Suutarinen is aimed too low in his plans. There should be more effort put into developing a good idea into a successful business than can be found in his plans. Open Problem Bank will probably find its 50k and develop into a modest one man business before fading away into the ever-expanding sea of unsuccesful executions of a good ideas. I hope Mr. Suutarinen proves me wrong. All the luck in your efforts Nisse.

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Fruugo Wants To Become The Trusted 3rd Party Of Ecommerce

The guys of Arctic Startup met with Fruugo’s CEO Reijo Syrjäläinen this morning and got to ask what Fruugo is all about. I was also invited to the meeting but was unfortunately unable to join them.

According to the story, Fruugo is building a platform that will enable customers to make purchases online in an easier, simpler and safer way. The company is aiming to become “the trusted 3rd party of ecommerce”.

Fruugo still doesn’t reveal too much about themselves, but their service will be available in closed beta in a few months. Fruugo will update their website on Monday with some more information.

The answer to the mystic equation 1L + 1M + 1P =? was also mentioned in the story. It is “1 Language + 1 Mind + 1 Purpose = Success”. We’ll have to see what that will entail in the future.

[The whole story on Arctic Startup]

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Twitterosphere Gone iPhone Crazy

I’m following the unbelievable buzz in Twitter surrounding the WWDC Keynote speach by Steve Jobs in which he is expected to reveal the new iPhone. It’s just insane. There are so much people waiting for the announcement and crossing their fingers that Twitter won’t go down tonight. Of course there are as much people making fun of the fuzz by sending fake photos of the new iPhone and RickRolling people.

Go on,  jump in the fun at Summize, which is a great tool for searching what people are talking about in Twitter.iPhone in Twitter through Summize

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Aggregators Are Around Us, Will Proliferate

During the past six months I’ve become really interested in news aggregators. Techmeme is the first thing I check after email in the morning and it has helped me a lot in finding out what people are discussing about technology right now. It has saved me hours of time and I’ve come across stories I would have missed otherwise.

Of course Techmeme has its problems. Tristan Louis wrote about Techmeme myopia – Techmeme highlights stories that are being discussed right now, but it cannot distinguish between rumor and news or a personal clash between bloggers and really disruptive innovation. But I’m fine with that. It would be great is Gabe Rivera could develop Techmeme so that It could tell the difference. I hope he does, but it will not be easy.

What, on the other hand, is easy, is creating an aggregator around one topic and then cloning it to handle something completely different. That’s what Rivera has done with celebrity gossip, politics and baseball.

A new entrant (at least new to me) to the aggregation game is Loud3r. They have created aggregators to handle such diverse topics as sneakers, dogs and motorcycle roadracing. The most interesting to me are Found3r (about venture capital) and Buzz3r (about internet business & technology). These sites do not quite get to the same level as Techmeme, but they produce somewhat different results, which is always welcome. And I also like that they reveal the score they give to each story and how it is counted from three variables: quality, community and buzz.

In conclusion, aggregators are all the time easier to create, they are easier to copy and they will continue to become a very big part of peoples’ lives. Currently aggregators like Techmeme and Buzz3r are used by only a handful of people, but as aggregators develop to get better results they will eventually be used by the masses who have no time or will to go through the noise.

[Techmeme discussion: Techmeme Myopia]

[Loud3r via Friendfeed by Scoble]

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The Startup Term Sheet Explained In Detail

Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld wrote a really detailed series of posts describing the ins and outs of the startup venture financing term sheets. The posts were written already three years ago, but Feld has revisited them and come to the same conclusion as I did, that the information is still valid, although some references to 24 might seem old.

It’s definitely worth the effort to go through the 26 articles if you are interested in term sheets and startup financing in general. I personally learned a lot from the first ones I have had the time to read.

[Via Texas Startup Blog]

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