Tag Archives: startup

SXSW: Checking in while Gearing Up in Austin

Dave checks in while preparing swag and other gear piled high on a lawn in Austin, Texas awaiting the HootBus while SXSW 2013 gets underway.

Social HR and and International Culture – a soliloquy

Not All Skills Fit on Resume cake by Destin (photo credit ?)
Not All Skills Fit on Resume cake by Destin (photo credit ?)

Using social media and community-building tactics for various HR-related objectives including: recruiting quality by tracking and amplifying stories, fostering company culture, and spreading messages across borders. 

Dave Olson (then VP Community at Hootsuite – a social media management software company) gives a fast-paced and candid talk about using social media and community-building tactics for various HR-related objectives including: recruiting quality talent by tracking and amplifying stories, fostering company culture (especially in time of international growth), and spreading messages across borders. Includes many examples and anecdotes. 

Recorded in 2012 at unknown location/circumstance.  

Listen to: Social HR and and International Culture – a soliloquy (33MB, 192k mp3, 23:37)

Curated tours app Urbandig in Vancouver Sun – Featuring me and beer

I made a tour for a startup app called Urbandig which shares “locals” tours of special interests in various cities. This article by Gillian Shaw at Vancouver Sun shares the story with some blurbage on my Gastown Beer Tour contribution.

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Vancouver startup firm puts a new twist on travel apps

Urbandig is like having a best friend who can show you all the cool spots

By GILLIAN SHAW, Vancouver Sun October 19, 2011

VANCOUVER – What do the digerati do when they’re sitting around wondering how they can discover the really cool spots in town that only the locals know about?

Why, they make an app for it, of course.

That’s just what happened last spring in Los Angeles, when a group of Vancouver new-media types were chatting with friends there about the difficulty of finding those out-of-the-way places that may not even rate a mention in the travel guides.

{snip}

Dave Olson, marketing director for Vancouver’s HootSuite, was the first curator in Vancouver, where he writes under the name of his personal blog, uncleweed.

Olson is “incredibly busy” with the fast-growing HootSuite, creator of the popular social-media dashboard, said Rodgers, but like others involved in the project, he made time to share his passion for a subject dear to his heart — or his tastebuds — craft beer.

“He is a good friend of mine and I know he’s constantly logging the beers he tries on a site called Untappd,” said Rodgers. “We wanted it to be content from subject-matter experts. When you open up the app and Dave Olson tells you to go to Six Acres and try the Raven Cream Ale, you know that you can trust Dave is going to guide you to the right place.”

{more about my pal Mikala}

Mikala Taylor, creator of the popular music website Backstage Rider, is another Urbandig curator. “I cranked out a tour based on some of the places I seem to live in, which are really all the music venues in Vancouver,” she said. “Rather than just say ‘Here are some great music venues,’ I flipped it on its head and aligned it with the stuff I like to do, which is hang out with bands.”

And so you’ll find Taylor’s tour includes tips on the best places to stand if you want to meet the band, where the tour buses are parked, the backstage area and other insider tidbits.

“I remember when I first moved here there was a book, eat.shop vancouver, which had really interesting takes on some of the cooler places in the city,” said Taylor. “Not so much like a Lonely Planet or Time Out guide; it seemed to be more in the trenches.

“To me, Urbandig seems like an app version of that book. If you really drill in there are some really cool tips from the experts, people who really know something about what they’re writing about.”

Source: Vancouver startup Urbandig wanders off the beaten path with its new travel app

HootSuite Takes A Little Cash Off The Table To ‘De-Risk,’ Aims For Bigger Game via Venture Capital Dispatch, WSJ

Early investors and employees of the social media management company have sold $20 million worth of shares.

Social media management company HootSuite Media has ballooned since it started a little over three years ago, winning business from global brands and growing to nearly four million users, with $75 million in revenue expected this year.

Now HootSuite’s founder, Ryan Holmes, and some of his fellow shareholders are taking money off the table–they sold $20 million worth of shares to OMERS Ventures, an investment arm of one of Canada’s largest pension plans, in one of the biggest venture capital deals in Canada in the last decade.

Source: HootSuite Takes A Little Cash Off The Table To ‘De-Risk,’ Aims For Bigger Game – Venture Capital Dispatch – WSJ

Notes about Building a Posse – Social Marketing Kung Fu

3 buckets

– diff motivations that they care about

– don’t identify them and put them in the right bucket – you’ll lose them or they’ll go rogue 

1) rockstars – want to be affiliated with the brand and have it’s fame shine onto themselves (what can they get out of their relationship with you) – respect amongst peers

2) gardeners – diligently test your system for bugs (kind quiet emails that notify us of our mistakes)

3) interns – gain practical knowledge to advance their careers – loan yourself out – you give me skills, I give you labor 

clearly identify what they want to do and need constraints

they’ll feel that they’re authorized to speak on the company’s behalf – they’re not

– be clear that they are here to accomplish very specific goals and tasks

– make the objective the objective 

specific goal:

– translation project – see int’l growth and diff languages

– starting with japanese – people out there answering questions full-time in their free time

– listen and pay attention to them

– brought on japanese intern

      – get market research from japanese

      – keep asking what your market is doing

      – keep pinging people

– create strings to be translated

– pitting countries against each other (in a friendly way)

– recognize contributors publicly and amplify it

– build assets through recognizing people

– fb, content goes to die

– hootups

– don’t start support in other languages until you have “critical mass”/enough momentum

– customer support can be an endless black hole for time/money -> not necessarily the key to success in tech

– next belt – unpleasant situations

– figure out what makes your helper click – credit internally, public pats on the back,

– comment obsessively

– reinforce and build their confidence by giving them inspiring and rewarding tasks

– have them participate and put their name on it

– use visual assets

Rockstar Training School – Tips for Managing and Inspiring Interns (from InternMatch)

Written as a day-job project for InternMatch.com and posted on my birthday, Aug. 16, 2011, archived here for the record as this was an epic labour of importance to me. I’ve wanted to create an “former intern club” of some kind to keep an eye on all those i mentor to some degree, but for now, this is my distillation of most of the tactics i use to keep the train chooglin’ forward in the workplace. If you like, tweet or comment on the Internmatch version.

Rockstar Training School – Tips for Managing and Inspiring Interns (from InternMatch)

Guest Post By Dave Olson, Community Marketing Director of HootSuite.com

From start-ups to established enterprises, there’s rarely enough time for all the tasks and new initiatives on your list. Investing time to find quality interns can be an ideal solution… if done correctly. If you aren’t prepared to integrate your helper correctly, you’ll end up micro-managing and draining your time – while also demotivating the once-eager intern. Over 15 years running marketing and community teams I’ve sponsored dozens of internships and along the way, found future employees, ideal collaborators and even a few friends. I’ve also dealt with under-performers and a few disgruntled slackers who can negatively affect your company culture. From these experiences, I’ve compiled key nuggets of wisdom to help your company reap quality contributions from an intern who truly enjoys their challenging work experience. Remember, you can’t spell INTERNET without INTERN.

Hire Like an Employee

Post intern openings the same as paid openings with expected qualifications, application process and defined roles. This shows you are taking the search seriously and not just looking for a warm body to do menial tasks. Remove the mystery and set the expectation and you’ll start off right.

Introduce Loudly

On their first day, introduce them to your team in an email – be sure to include personal interests and previous experience as well as an overview of the sorts of tasks they’ll work on. This helps the intern feel valuable and sends a message to your team to start collaborating right away.

Upfront with Terms

My internships are (almost) always non-paid. Opinions throughout the industry differ on this point, but it’s your choice to make. Just ensure you are clear about the terms from the beginning. If you don’t have budget, let them know and explain the types for benefits they’ll receive from their efforts: Internships are valuable learning experiences and a great way to get a foot in the door of competitive industries.

Give them a Title

Sadly “intern” is sometimes used  as a synonym for “lackey” – this can be de-motivating and even embarrassing for your diligent helper. Instead, bestow a title upon them which describes their role. These titles can be fun but not condescending. At HootSuite, many Interns work on international outreach so we call them International Community Ambassadors. When you introduce them, use their title to show respect for their efforts.

Specific Tasks

While this seems obvious… Assign your padowans specific tasks with meaning and deadlines. By clearly defining to-dos, you not only keep Interns from spending their days on YouTube, but you give them valuable benchmarks of learning and achievement. We use Basecamp to organize tasks for employees and intern to a granular level.

Reports for Accountability

Each Intern should have a weekly report to fill out (I use Google forms which populate a spreadsheet) and measure some empirical evidence of their work as well as providing space for their ideas and insights and a grade their “happiness level.” This process holds them accountable, shows that their work matters and allows you to get in front of any problems whether for work or personal burn out (especially for international interns far from home).

Farm System

For start-ups, Interns can fill a critical role to get a product out and promoted on a limited budget. For established companies, they can populate a “farm system” for entry-level employees similar to a sports teams’ minor league affiliate. Interns allow you to cultivate a new batch of talent and “taste test” a number of candidates to see how they react in real-life work situations before committing to a contract.

Coffee is your Job

Do I ever ask interns to fetch me coffee? Almost never. This task is a menial “make work” task for them and (honestly) going for a cup of coffee is one of the best parts of your day. Instead, invite your intern out for a chat over a beverage and everyone wins. Also, make sure they are invited for company events, after-work beer sessions and other “team building” activities – it’ll pay off with passion.

Mentor your Padowan

You are receiving free (or cheap) labor and in exchange, you should share you experience, feedback and inside tips and tactics. Go beyond the simple assignments and take the time to explain the “why” beyond the “what” and “how.” Giving this contextual meaning to their tasks will help them emotionally invest in the project. But don’t coddle– they are humans, not puppies, and your real advice will be of more use than unwarranted compliments.

Part of a Legacy

One by one, Interns come and Interns go, but let your newbs know the legacy they are continuing. We tell stories and share photos of past Interns. For example: one intern left a Danish national soccer team jersey as a gift. Now, this is awarded to the Intern who has shown “heart and soul and tenacity” for the week and is handed off by one recipient to the next… Make an intern hall of fame gallery to connect the people to one another and you may find they end up as virtual friends.

Overwhelm (& Support)

From day one, give them a list of tasks. They won’t gravitate or complete all of them but you’ll quickly learn where their skills are. Make sure they know how to get help from others and at what point to come to you for assistance – without bothering you. Schedule :15 catchup sessions to avoid slow downs.

Lackey Work

I promise each new recruit that every task I assign to them is something I’ve done many times before – from stuffing envelopes to assembling desks, the jobs might sound mundane but if they know you’ve done the boring stuff too, they’ll understand it’s all part of the process and culture of a start-up.

Parting Gift

Since your Interns are non-paid, you want to ensure you provide some career assistance when they need it. This starts with a Linkedin recommendation and well-thought-out letter. Plus send a Tweet publicly to thank them and recommend them to other companies and offer yourself as a reference for jobs.

Field Trips

If someone really stepped up, introduce them to industry peers, either by email or by bringing them along to speaking gigs so they can make an impression in person. Tip: Start-up accelerators and incubators with newly funded companies are a great next step for your star Interns seeking work.

Keep in Touch

Remember each intern comes from a unique background and you can (and should) help elevate and fast-track them into the job world. Follow their career with interest once they are gone and invite them back for a coffee or office party.

HootSuite: A software-as-a-service success story via The Next Web

Source: HootSuite: A software-as-a-service success story By Mike Vardy,  July 6, 2011

HootSuite may just be a Twitter client to some, but there’s no denying that its software-as-a-service model as served it and its users well.

Earlier this week, The Next Web covered HootSuite’s achievement of reaching the 2 million user milestone. Considering that the Vancouver-based company has stood the test of time while other social media and Twitter clients have either sold out or bowed out, this is a remarkable accomplishment. But there’s a lot more to HootSuite’s success than just being a great Twitter client; HootSuite’s rise is a testament to how a great idea that stays the course can reach great heights. And the heights it has reached compares with that of some pretty stellar companies that are also part of the software-as-a-service/freemium business realm.

HootSuite has seen growth to date that is on a similar trajectory to the widely popular Evernote, Yammer and Dropbox. The data below outlining Evernote’s, Yammer’s and HootSuite’s rise to 2 million users illustrates that there is significant market success of SaaS tools and Freemium business models.

 

Evernote and Dropbox have continued to grow rapidly after the 2 million user mark, and HootSutie shows definite signs of trending in the same manner. International growth is a key contributor to HootSuite’s user base, having sped this via community building, outreach and crowd-sourced translation.

HootSuite’s reach and trends (courtesy of Alexa) also rank with that of the aforementioned companies, as well as Dropbox and SalesForce, other examples of business using the SaaS and Freemium models:

Also worth noting is the relative growth rate of users on each of these services:

HootSuite beta Launch: December 2009
HootSuite 1 Million: November 2010
HootSuite 2 Million: June 2011

Evernote Launch: June 2008
Evernote 1 Million: May 2009
Evernote 2 Million: December 2009

Yammer Launch: September 2008
Yammer 1 Million: July 2010
Yammer 2 Million: Feb 2011

Dropbox Launch: April 2008
Dropbox 1 Million: May 2009
Dropbox 2 Million: Sept 2009

While the data clearly shows that SaaS and Freemium models are fast becoming a widely used solution for many users, it also foreshadows something for HootSuite in particular: it may be the only third-party social media client left standing in the future because of how it has done — and continues to do — business.

Release Day – Social Media Kung-Fu Purple Belt

What to release

Substantial and ready to rock
Iterate rapidly, bundle around features and themes
Code names (useful)

Know your Coverers

Make Lists (Twitter and Email) – divvy it up, invite personally
Kindness, not condescension
Understand their beat
Respect time (make it easy)

Craft Stories

Same (3) talking points > into different forms
Quote from customers (CEO sparingly)
Lead with “why this matters”
Tune your vocab and tense (active not passive)
Images to support theme (illustrative)

Line up Dominoes &/or House of Cards

Constant – Media kit tune up blog.hootsuite.com/media

Thursday – Internal memo: master plan to share with squad

Monday 1PM PW Local Press release with assets
Monday 1PM Media preview email: short with embargo deets, interview, assets (infographic!)
Monday 4PM Key client preview email (optional)

Tuesday 5AM Blog post (canonical ~ everything points here)
5:15AM Twitter
5:15AM Facebook
5:20AM General email
5:30AM Wire release
9AM Linkedin groups
9:15 AM Forums, Q &As
11AM Webinar
+ Interviews

then….
Listen
Reply
Thank
Share
Repeat

Prepare for pushback (haters & carpetbaggers) with comment copy

Remember Yellow Belt? Log it all with tags
Thursday – News Round-up with “mini-release” push (trackbacks too)

“MovieSet traffic on the up and up” – Techvibes Blog

MovieSet traffic on the up and up – Techvibes Blog

Vancouver’s Uncleweed Dave Olson left Raincity Studios in early January to join Vancouver movie maker and fan website MovieSet.

Earlier today he tweeted about the month-over-month growth if MovieSet.com – “Not too shabby for a poet”.

Dave and Roland Talks Social Event at New Town Bakery

Dave O and Roland Tanglao riff about social media conference and events while enjoying some Cantonese style grub. Topics include: Northern Voice, Open Web and other upcoming Social Media events.