So you’re ready to create some sweet swag but you don’t have a design locked down yet? Don’t worry, if you aren’t a designer or don’t have one on staff here are a couple ideas for getting the design you need to get your swag-a-liciousness on.
1. Ask your community for help
Ask for help from your customers on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or email. Who better to come up with a design than the people you want to give it to? You’d be surprised at the artistic talent lurking in your social networks. For example a fan volunteered to create some artwork for the blog You Suck at Craigslist’s tees and mugs. It was a sweet deal for everyone as the fan got some YSaC branded gear and the blog made their community happy.
2. Hold a contest
Increase buzz while getting a design by using a contest. Run a contest using a service like Wildfire to solicit entries from your existing customers (who are great resources since they know you best and will design something they’d actually wear) or run a contest on a crowd-sourced design community like 99designs. For example Big Commerce wanted to do a giveaway to fans, but at the time only had a logo to put on a tee. So they held a contest on 99designs and ended up with three ballin’ designs to giveaway to customers and employees.
3. Hire a designer
Find creatives to outsource the design to using networks like The Creative Finder, Crowdspring, Etsy Graphic Designers, and 99designs. Or ask a friend for a referral.
For additional ways to get a design head here or check out our image requirements and get the ball rollin!
The Company: Clipix is an online organizational tool that was founded in February of 2012 by Oded Berkowitz, a veteran Wall Street professional and web entrepreneur. Oded created Clipix out of a personal need for a tool that would allow us to save and share links, documents, photos and video with one click, and provide a visual and organized environment for all of the things we all see online, and want to come back to.
The Philosophy: The dedicated group of experienced entrepreneurs, designers, and developers at Clipix believe in constant collaboration and care deeply about the experience they create for their users. Clipix has the stability, business fundamentals, and capital of an established company with the atmosphere and mindset of a hot startup. The focus of the space is an open desks set up, with low dividers for better collaboration and communication between team members. Three private offices, a user experience room, as well as the conference room are all glass, in the belief that lines of communication and doors are always open within the company.
- A completely open floor plan for open communication
- A lounge area with a large bright orange leather couch and chairs where employees can sit on, collaborate and brain-storm with one another comfortably
- Kitchen and dining area for employees to sit and enjoy lunch
- Outdoor seating area if employees choose to dine outside
- Conference room
- Birthday celebrations for each employee’s birthday
- Free Clipix t-shirts for all team members (and anyone else)
What We Love:
- Open area for free-flowing collaboration
- Inward facing desks making for easy and accidental conversation
- Whiteboards in the Conference Room to foster Artistic Mockups & brainstorming
- Stylish workspace with a color “pop” – in Clipix orange
Great digs! What’s your favorite part of their space?
(Interested in having your company featured? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Well folks it’s that time of year again. The time when South By Southwest (SXSW) begins to fill your Twitter stream even though it’s months away. If you’re not familiar with the event, SXSW Interactive is an annual conference held in Austin, TX during March every year intended to foster creativity, innovation, and professional growth.
So why the fuss so early? It’s because voting for panels has officially begun! While thousands of panels are submitted each year only about 300 can actually happen due to space and time constraints, so crowd-voting combined with input from an advisory panel are used to select the best. I’ve curated 10 panels I think you’ll find interesting. If you like ‘em vote them up, so that they can actually happen!
1. CEO at 21: Avoiding Pitfalls of Young Founders
- Featuring J.J. Colao Forbes, Nikhil Sethi Adaptly & Zach Sims Codecademy
- At an age when most college grads are happily taking orders on the bottommost corporate rung, CEOs Zach Sims and Nikhil Sethi (22 and 23 years-old, respectively) are leading fast growing businesses. In this panel, moderator J.J. Colao, a 25 year-old Forbes magazine reporter covering entrepreneurs, speaks with Sims and Sethi about their experiences running top-tier startups and their advice for the next crop of young founders.
2. The Future of Music Making
- Featuring Ernst Nathorst-Böös Propellerhead, Prerna Gupta Khush (now part of Smule), Dan Walton Retronyms, Henrik Lenberg SoundCloud
- All you need is a $4.99 app for your smartphone or tablet and you’re ready to create the next big hit. Or…? This panel takes the temperature on the rapidly changing music software space and asks whether the huge success of mobile apps will give us more great music in the future and if mobile music making is just a fun hobby or for serious music creators?
3. Pinning and Winning: Activating Social Contests
- Featuring Adriana Kampfner CMP.LY, Linda Goldstein Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLC, Ben Pickering Strutta, Erika Brookes Oracle
- This panel will take a look at changing platforms, new challenges and emerging best practices with regard to giveaways, sweeps and contests across Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more.
4. Sweet Memes Are Made of This: How to Go Viral
- Featuring Michael Selvidge Twilio, Lian Amaris Songbird, Ricky Robinett Ordr.in, Peter Shankman Vocus Inc
- Though virality can’t be guaranteed, there are a few ways to best position a creation to become a meme. From tactical tagging to tweeting at influencers, the panel will discuss the “how,” “when,” and “who” of strategic creation, so companies can target the best audience that will want and need to share their content.
5. Using an API vs Building in-house
- Featuring Jeff Lawson Twilio, John Collison Stripe, Jim Franklin SendGrid, Scott Kveton Urban Airship
- Panelists from e-commerce platform Shopify, online payments processor Stripe, voice and SMS API Twilio, email deliverability leaders SendGrid, push notifications specialist Urban Airship and venture capital pioneers Bessemer Venture Partners will tackle the successful and not-so-successful ways that entrepreneurs today build and grow their businesses with APIs. Taken from their own experiences and partnerships, the panel will discuss dos and don’ts and debate when to build yourself or buy from someone else.
6. What’s So Funny About Innovation?
- Featuring Paul Valerio Method, Inc., Baratunde Thurston Cultivated Wit
- Join Paul Valerio, Principal at experience design firm, Method, and Baratunde Thurston, comedian and best-selling author, for a Q&A around comedy and how it can be used for brand, product, and service innovation.
7. What Technology Gets Us to the Jetsons?
- Featuring Peter Cook Bluetooth SIG
- This session will discuss the different technologies connecting the M2M market – from Bluetooth to RFID, from Wi-Fi to Cellular – granularly discussing the technologies, their differentiators, what scenarios they are perfect for and what, from a technology standpoint, is still missing.
8. Sneakers & Technology pt 2: Experiences by Design
- Featuring Trevor Eld R/GA
- As a continuation of Sneakers & Technology: A True Love Story, this panel will continue the discussion of the storied relationship between technological innovation and the sneaker industry. In this installment, we’ll be covering the amazing sneaker innovations from the past year, the experiences they’re creating, and how our lives are, and will be, affected by them.
9. The Startup Library: Reading like an Entrepreneur
- Featuring Kevin Smokler Self-Employed Will Schwalbe Cookstr
- In this session, startup veterans/authors Will Schwalbe and Kevin Smokler will look at three reasons why entrepreneurs must hit the books–Canonical (i.e. which books to read and when), Neurological (the effect of reading on the entrepreneurial brain) and Contextual (how reading improves product vision, market understanding and issues of user experience). You’ll exit with your own reading list inspired by the reading lists of great entreprenerus as well as tools on maximizing reading time.
10. Is the Internet America’s Third Party?
- Featuring Maura Corbett Glen Echo Group, Mark Colwell Sen. Jerry Moran, Laurent Crenshaw Rep. Darrell Issa, Marvin Amori The Ammori Group
- In 2012, you had bitter, polarized Republicans and Democrats – and then you had the Internet. If any of that was in doubt, on January 18, 2012 the Internet officially arrived. SOPA and PIPA were the bills that may be discussed for years to come as the acronyms that changed it all. In the form of 3.9 million tweets, 2,000 people a second trying to call their Members and more than 5,000 people a minute signing petitions, netizens from across the nation spoke out.
Did I miss any you’re excited about? Please feel free to share!
I know what you’re thinking, sure t-shirts are great but can they really make an impact on my startup’s bottom line?
The resounding answer is YES!! Here are 5 ways you can effectively use t-shirts to grow profits:
- Increase customer loyalty by asking long-term customers for their feedback on a survey and rewarding them with a t-shirt upon completion.
- Grow your paying customers by offering a free t-shirt to anyone who signs up and uses your product.
- Increase your following across social media channels using a t-shirt giveaway contest.
- Outfit your team so that when you go to conferences your brand breaks through the clutter.
- Reach out to potential clients, or up-sell current ones, by sending out care packages complete with t-shirts they’ll be stoked to wear.
- BONUS: Tout a free swag item or t-shirt giveaway contest in your advertising to attract potential customers to your website.
Check out how we can help put your swag on autopilot here and join the thousands of other startups already using t-shirts. Want to see it to believe it? A quick search on the Internet will pull up tons of startups using swag. Look what we found today:
1. Lijit hats
2. Zozi t-shirt
3. Sendgrid t-shirts
4. Jess3 t-shirt
5. Murfie baby tee
Pretty sweet right? Don’t get left in the dust, get started creating yours today.
The Company: Contently was founded in December 2010 in New York City by Joe Coleman, Dave Goldberg, and Shane Snow. Basically Contently helps journalists, media companies, and brands connect and become better publishers. Their passion lies in helping freelancers succeed, and in doing so allowing anyone to become a publisher. At Contently, they’re devoting their lives to leveling the playing field for the hungry and talented creators and publishers out there!
The Philosophy: Contently makes its home in a 4,000 square-foot space in SoHo, right at the intersection of Broadway and Houston. The team thrives in an open, bright, and spacious office that feeds creativity, collaborative, and innovation. With communal desks, plenty of dry-erase surfaces to write on, and an internal chat room running at all hours, the team is always in collaboration mode. A family at heart, the Contently team believes in having fun and has outfitted its space with toys to drive its playful whims – a flying shark, turntables, and a mini basketball set make for a fun environment. When the team isn’t working or playing, its sharing communal lunches in the “living room,” going on monthly field trips around New York City, or enjoying the weekly team happy hour.
- 4,000 square feet of open floor space
- Two meeting rooms
- Four rows of parallel desks
- Full kitchen, stocked with snacks
- Flying remote control shark
- Dry-erase walls, tables, and whiteboards
- Technic 1200 turntables with stacks and stacks of accompanying LPs
- Beautiful view of the bustling NYC streets below through wall-to-wall windows
- 100% pet-friendly space, frequented by three pup interns
What We Love:
- Come on, there’s a flying shark!
- Pets bring a great chemistry to an office, so it’s cool they’re regulars
- They’ve got a work hard play hard attitude and their space reflects that
- Crazy beautiful view
- Spacious rooms for bringing together a community of writers in person for a meetup
- Tunes and an in-house DJ
Pretty sweet office. What’s your favorite part of their space?
(Interested in having your company featured? Drop us a line at email@example.com.)
On a daily basis I’m able to organize events on Facebook, discover news and research topics on Google, and share my thoughts on WordPress. Furthermore I’m able to work because the amazing power of the web allows startups like Printfection to thrive. As a result I’d come to think that the Internet has liberated us.
Though in Consent of the Networked Rebecca MacKinnon takes a deep dive into whether it actually has, discovering that for every story about the web’s empowering role in events such as the Arab Spring, there are many more about the quiet corrosion of civil liberties by companies and governments using the same digital technologies we have come to depend upon. A couple examples include:
- Flickr removed Egyptian activist Hossam el-Hamalwy’s photos.
- Shi Tao was jailed in China for 10 years after Yahoo gave his email account registration information to the Chinese government.
- Sudden changes in Facebook’s features and privacy settings exposed identities of protestors to police in Egypt and Iran.
- Apple removes politically controversial apps when governments ask, as well as for its own commercial reasons.
- Google struggles with cencorship demands from governments across the world–many of them democracies– as well as mounting public concern over the vast quantities of information it collects about its users.
So how can technology be governed to support the rights and liberties of users around the world? Cyber power and governance of the internet is one of the great unsolved problems of the twenty-first century. It seems the resolve of citizens like you and I will come to shape the way technology is used.
MacKinnon summed it up best by saying, “Whether we are simply users of technology, investors in technology companies, employees or executives of Internet-related companies, elected officials, or mid-ranking government bureaucrats, we all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to prevent abuse of digital power, and avoid abusing it ourselves.”
Whiteboards are a great way to effectively lead a discussion during a meeting. They can help you present ideas, guide the conversation, and record the conclusions as they develop. As a result a lot of startups have whiteboards dispersed throughout their offices (like Wistia, Highgroove, Swipely, and Safe Shepherd).
Here are a couple thoughts for getting the most out of using all that whiteboard real-estate during a meeting:
- Start with the big idea: To get your meeting off on the right foot, start with something compelling and energizing. Preface your discussion by extracting the problem you’d like to solve and write it at the top or center of the board. Then share a key statistic or false assumption that you cross out dramatically!
- Keep it simple: Try to work in shorthand so that you can keep pace recording relevant ideas. Take enough time to write and draw neat enough (and large enough) for others to comprehend but aim for a steady communication rate over perfect handwriting. One way to speed up your writing is to develop simple symbols that are used whenever someone is whiteboard like boxes, arrows, etc. Remember that not every detail needs to make it onto the board– try to extract key points.
- Organize the layout of thoughts: Use tools like bullet lists, numbered lists, speech bubbles, and flow charts to separate ideas. If your discussion will have a lot of moving or intertangled pieces you might consider writing on Post It Notes because then you can move them around on the board as the relationships evolve.
- Think aloud while drawing: If you’re the one whiteboarding try to recap what you just heard someone say as you’re drawing it. That way everyone can confirm they’re on the same page and relate the images to the messages.
- Encourage participation: Ask others to come up and write their ideas on the board, or hand the marker to someone and pass it around in a circle having each person take a turn at the board. This will promote interactivity and help make people more comfortable to share their thoughts.
- Bonus! Keep a record: Now that you’ve got an entire brain-dump up on the board be sure to snap a picture of your session with your smartphone. That way you can send it to folks who might have missed the meeting, and you’ll have a record including takeaways and potentially next steps.
Look down, are you wearing a t-shirt right now? I bet you are.
People love t-shirts and they sport them almost everyday. So why not use shirts to help your startup retain current customers and attract new ones? All you’ve got to do is design threads they’ll be proud to wear (which will actually spread your brand even further as your shirts travel to all sorts of places).
5 tips for creating shirts people will love:
- Don’t just slap your logo on and call it a wrap.
- Make the shirt about your customers’ qualities and interests.
- Try to incorporate an image with your text, or if it’s text heavy make sure it’s stylized.
- Don’t stray too far from your brand’s persona, keep your colors and flair.
- Be sure to offer mens and women’s styles, no one likes to wear a shirt that doesn’t flatter their figure.
And if that doesn’t get your thinkin’ juices flowing check out these 10 awesome startup t-shirts:
2. New Relic‘s Tshirt
3. Tumblr‘s Tshirt
4. Card Flick‘s Tshirt
5. Appsumo‘s Tshirt
6. Mailchimp‘s Tshirt
7. Foursquare‘s Tshirt
8. Evernote‘s Tshirt
9. Twilio‘s Tshirt
10. Mashable‘s Tshirt
Have you seen any startup t-shirts that you love? Please share!
In a digital age is there still a place and time for paper business cards or are they rapidly going the way of the paper book?
I’d say your startup should still be killing trees. But that only applies if you’re going to use and design your business cards effectively.
Using business cards
I’m generally not the biggest proponent of taking up valuable pocket space, but I’ve tried the whole hey let me snap a quick picture of us and I’ll tweet it at you, what’s your handle thing and it’s hard to find people later that way (plus you still have to hunt down their email address unless you can publicly say what you’re interested in), and the whole picture thing can be kind of uncomfortable if you’re not 100% glamorous that day.
Beyond exchanging Twitter handles, certain smart phone apps can allow you to easily collect and exchange information about other people in a room with you, but it seems like business cards are still widely used at networking events (things that startup founders should be regularly attending)- and if someone hands you one, it’s only polite to give one back.
There’s something very finite and reassuring about the physical exchange of information at the end of a good discussion. You also might like to include business cards in care packages you send, providing an easy way for potential customers to get in touch– snail mail breaks through the clutter in a digital age.
But keep in mind that your card will have a short-lived chance to make an impact. Most business cards probably sit for a certain amount of time in the receiver’s wallet, on their desk, or in a drawer before potentially being tossed in the trash as rolodexes don’t seem all that common anymore.
Designing business cards
I’ve seen some super creative business cards like these but when it comes down to it, a really original business card might not say anything about your core product offering. Sure people might hang onto it a tad longer than other cards but it will still end up in the trash. While it might prompt them to show the card to their friends it’s doubtful their friends would then copy down your information and try to get in touch– as making bangin’ business cards or designs most likely aren’t the business you’re in. Your time is probably better spent making an impact in person, than pouring weeks of thought and money into the most shocking and sticky business card.
A couple quick tips:
- Present your company and product offering right upfront. For example on the back of our cards we include our company logo and tagline:
- Leave room for making it personal. For example we left some space on the back to jot down a note or giveaway code.
- Since a card is generally exchanged to make a human connection, put your humans first.
- Then provide all venues for possible interaction, as many people have preferences about which social networks they like to use to digest content.
- Keep your colors, fonts, and imagery in line with your brand’s aesthetic and persona. For example here’s the front side of our cards:
So what about you, do you still use business cards and how much do you think the design matters?