Startup Spotlight: My Super Nanny Is Now In The USA!

Finding a reliable caretaker for your child is no easy feat. Word of mouth may find you the perfect babysitter, but what happens when said babysitter decides to get a full-time teaching gig, leaving you high and dry? What if the next babysitter allowed your toddler to walk up and down a steep staircase unattended, when they’d only just begun to scale those stairs under Mom’s watchful eye? What if you just can’t find anyone you can really trust to watch your precious angels, and you really are in need of a night out with the girls???

Then, it’s My Super Nanny to the rescue.

The Australian-based company is centered around three core values they believe all nannies need to possess – reliability, care, and intuition. Not all nannies are the same, nor are all families. Needs differ greatly. My Super Nanny uses a special algorithm to pair the right partners, leaving parents with more time for enjoyable tasks. For a small monthly fee of $6.95, you have access to lists of carers. You don’t pay for your nanny unless you feel comfortable with your choice and want to establish contact, making it a lower-risk proposition.

My Super Nanny provides fast, efficient and safe methods for contacting carers. After that initial contact, they let the client and the nanny make the rest of the arrangements such as pay, hours, and tasks.

And, the great news is, My Super Nanny has just launched in New York and California! To celebrate the launch, they would like to offer a free 365-day membership, which allows full access to their services. The code to use is MSN-S157L and it is only available for a limited time.

It is as easy as putting sprinkles on your ice-cream:
2. Enter code MSN-S157L
3. Contact unlimited nannies or post as many jobs as you’d like
Follow My Super Nanny Online & Find Your Perfect Nanny Now!
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Startup Spotlight: Ditch The Dummy

I remember the days of pacifiers…and my little Lulu was an addict. She couldn’t take a step without one in her mouth and one in each chubby little hand. And nighttime was the worst because she’d constantly knock them out of her crib and scream bloody murder, giving my and my hubby near-heart attacks from being shocked out of as deep a sleep as we could hope for with a very vocal baby. There were no solutions beyond tossing them into the trash when we’d had just about enough, which is exactly what we did. And we paid. Handsomely.

But now there is a solution! And it’s created by a company called Ditch the Dummy! The dummy is the pacifier, not you, by the way…

Penny Angela is the CEO of Ditch the Dummy and she had a plethora of sound bytes to share about entrepreneurship, motherhood, motivation, and potential pitfalls of creating a brand-new business.

1. Penny, what made you decide to delve into the world of entrepreneurship?

The reason I decided to delve into entrepreneurship was purely accidental. My husband and I fostered a beautiful 20-month old little boy called Joey. He was addicted to his pacifier. The only time it came out of his mouth was to eat.

Joey was a very shy little boy and could only speak a couple of words. We waited a couple of months before trying to wean him from his pacifier, giving him a chance to settle in, feel comfortable and with the minimal amount of stress.

Pacifier weaning Joey was horrendous! We tried just about everything, from cold turkey to losing it, nothing worked. Then a friend suggested poking a hole in one of his existing pacifiers. We did it, and it did work.

After a few days Joey just put it aside and that was basically that. He had effectively weaned himself.

Then purely by chance, I came across an article on pacifier weaning and how it can be harmful to alter your child’s existing pacifier, apparently pieces of silicon can become embedded in your child’s gums or even create a choking hazard. Basically the integrity of the pacifier nipple can be compromised.

Pretty horrifying!

But knowing this method does work, I thought if I could create a product for pacifier weaning along those lines, but with a manufactured hole, it would still work the same, but be totally safe.

I went online to see if there were any pacifier weaning tools available, and only found 1 tangible product, (besides books) a set of 5 pacifiers reducing in size. I sure this works very well, but it’s quite pricey, ranging from $20 to $30 depending on which site you made your purchase.

I thought that if there was a pacifier weaning product that could be retailed for around $10 including shipping, it would be affordable for most parents. I would definitely have bought it!

Hence, “Ditch the Dummy” was born.

I originally came up with the name “Binky Stop” but after research, found the word “Binky” was trademarked by another company, and so were most catchy pacifier names.

I was born in England, we call pacifier “Dummies,” and so “Ditch the Dummy” was it.

We are currently selling “Ditch the Dummy” from our website www.ditchthedummy.com, as well as on eBay and Amazon.

2. The number of aspiring entrepreneurs is rapidly growing, and everyone is looking for a way to click with their online target audience(s). Do you have any tips to share about how to connect with potential buyers?

Connecting with potential buyers is always going to be the hardest part of bringing a new product to market. Luckily with a niche product like mine, with a defined target “parents between the age of 20 and 40”, it’s a little easier to narrow down your target audience. I find Twitter and Facebook advertising to be my best source for customers. By joining lots of parenting groups on both these platforms, posting articles, blogs and ads regularly.

Website SEO is also an ongoing work of art. Pay per click advertising can be quite expensive so spending some cash on search engine optimization may be a must, if you’re as non-techie as me. I definitely recommend the Yoast Premium plug in for any website.

3. What are your top three tips for people looking to establish an online presence?

Top three tips for people looking to establish an online presence would be: 1. read lots of books on marketing strategy, social media and e-marketing and take plenty of notes. There’s also a huge learning source out there on YouTube – I found most of my social media advertising tips from an Australian YouTuber called “Lazy Ass Stoner”! 2. Get to know your competition, follow them, what are they doing that you can do better? Then do it. 3. Be prepared to spend hours and hours on your computer.

4. What is your favorite part about running your own business?

My favorite part of running my own business, is not that I don’t have a boss (in fact I do, it’s Me, and I’m a toughie). But I love that I can stay home and work. I’m here if my little boy gets ill and needs to stay home one day. This was a huge problem when I had my 9 – 5  job.

5. Did you have any big aha! moments as you launched Ditch The Dummy?

When I launched “Ditch the Dummy” I guess my big aha moment was my first sale! You just can’t beat that feeling.

6. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

I believe the top 3 skills needed for any budding entrepreneur would be, first – time management. I was all over the place at first, but now I have my days planned, I know what I’m doing, I no longer feel that I’ve worked all day and just spun my wheels!

Second would be delegation. You soon find out that you can’t actually do everything yourself. If you have family or friends who can help out in any way, don’t be afraid to reach out. This can save a lot of time, frustration and energy on your part. Let people know what your doing – the helpful tips will soon start rolling in.

I believe the third would be tenacity. You have to believe in your product and stand beside it 100%. You have to be as tenacious as a bulldog, your product is your chew toy. You need to keep shaking that chew toy to get it noticed. The minute you stop, your sales will too.

7. What have been some of your failures since launching Ditch The Dummy, and what have you learned from them?

I guess my biggest failure in the “Ditch the Dummy” launch was in the development of our website. I’m not at all techie, and actually got my website account suspended in Google Shopping. There were a lot of hoops to jump through to get it reinstated, believe me. There’s a lot more to a website than pretty pictures and a shopping cart, so do your research; make sure you have all your policies in place. Do not – I repeat do not, upset Google!

8. As a momtrepreneur, what advice can you offer other moms who are trying to launch a brand-new business?

As a momtrepreneur (We eventually managed to adopt Joey) I think the best advice for other Moms starting their own businesses would be to get a mentor or a series of mentors. At the very beginning of my journey, I joined Micromentor.org. I think I’m on my 6th mentor at the moment and still in contact with my first. Micromentor.org a free website where you can connect with mentors for all stages of your business, from creation to marketing to website SEO. These mentors are experienced business people who make themselves available free of charge and have a wealth of knowledge.

9. If you had the chance to begin your career again, what would you do differently?

If I had a chance to start my career again? Well, this is my new start! In retrospect, I should have done a huge pre-launch. I waited for my product to land in Miami before I actually did any marketing. I basically wasted quite a lot of time. I was just so worried about something happening to my product and not being able to fulfill pre-orders. Well, we did have a hurricane!

10. What motivates you?

Motivation? For decades parents have been snipping holes in their child’s pacifiers for weaning purposes without knowing the dangers and this needs to stop. We need to educate. This is my mission.

Every transitional period in a young child’s life can be pretty traumatic, for both parent and child. I hope “Ditch the Dummy” will make life just a little easier and safer for the 40%, yes, 40% of toddlers who have “Pacifier Addiction.” This is my motivation.

If you’re not motivated by your mission and/or your product, then maybe, just maybe it’s time to look elsewhere for your entrepreneurial success.

Check out Ditch the Dummy on Facebook and visit their website!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play Safe, Play Smart With Brimsuits For Toddlers

It’s always so exciting when you come up with “THE BIG IDEA” – the one that you’re passionate about, the one you receive great feedback about, and the one which you believe will make your life easier. You just know it’ll explode, but you need financing to bring the product to the masses.

A fellow idea mama, Dominique Parrish, is doing just that. She came up with an inventive design for brimsuits, which are hats for toddlers…hats they actually will wear because they are cleverly attached to a matching shirt! Theses suits are made of UPF 50 materials and are effective in protecting against the sun’s damaging rays without compromising the “cute.”

The product has significant competitive advantages, such as:

1) Superior sun protection. All of the fabrics are made with UPF 50+ materials and the company has a patent pending on the attached brimmed hood – protecting the child’s body, neck, ears and face from sun’s harmful UV rays.

 2) The hat is attached to the shirt, so it makes pulling the hat off over the face impossible. There is a tie closure under the chin, adjustable draw string head size, and a wide brim for optimal sun protection.

3) Even if the hat is removed it will be conveniently attached and ready to put back on in seconds. No more worrying about losing hats, having them blow off in the wind, or sink to the bottom of the pool/ocean.

But, aside from the benefits, there are expenses…LOTS of expenses to bring this product to market. So, Dominique created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the costs of making this product a reality.

Join Dominique in her quest to protect kids without sacrificing outdoor fun! You can read more about the project and support the Kickstarter campaign for brimsuits by clicking here.

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How Deviant Is Too Deviant???

I am most insightful while running. I don’t know why, but my mind goes into overdrive. I’m pounding the pavement, singing along with Metallica and BOOM! Enlightenment.

Maybe it’s because I can be alone with my thoughts. They don’t have to yell and scream to be heard because the competition is still at home, snug in their beds. Of course, said competition is usually the reason why my ideas never make it to paper. But today I refused to get sidetracked.

Do you know what it’s like, saying you want to be a romance author today? It’s kind of like saying you want to create a really awesome website, where people can connect with friends, make new ones, exchange messages, form common interest groups and share information, pictures and videos for feedback.

Um, dude, sounds great except…IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE!!!!

You can’t approach this endeavor with the mindset that, hey, it worked for all those other big authors, why not for me? It’s a different world and if you’re not bringing something new and exciting to the table, nobody will join you for the meal.

As an author, I spend a lot of time on social media, which is how I find out about new releases. I read blurbs and I know within the first two sentences if something is going to piqué my interest. I occasionally buy a book solely because of it’s cover, but it’s rare. The last book I bought by cover alone (and LOVED) was Taint by S.L. Jennings. But it was Mike Thurston, could you blame me??

Before I was an author, I would go to Amazon and just click around until I saw something interesting. It always came down to the blurb. If it grabbed me, I one-clicked. Period. As an aside, somehow I’d always finish a book while running on the treadmill so my goal was always to find something good quickly so I could keep reading. Running at 7 miles an hour and clicking around a Kindle isn’t ideal, just saying. I didn’t care about price, I wanted to be entertained with anything that would keep me focused on something other than the running. Brand-loyalty had no impact for my buying preferences.

Woman doing make-up, beautiful young woman doing make-up and smiling while looking at the mirrorNow, on the other hand, I’m a total lipstick whore. It’s my very favorite makeup item and I sample pretty much every type of product – matte, sheer, lip stain, gloss, lacquer. Two things matter – how the color looks and how long it will last. I buy it all, with no regard for price. I don’t necessarily have brand-loyalty in this case either since my preferred brands can’t always help me accomplish my goal. It’s all about how the product makes me feel. If there is a chance it will take me look like a million bucks, I’ll give it a shot. What do I have to lose? I can always return it if it doesn’t have the desired effect.

I’ve spent way more on products that I’ve used once and stuck in a drawer, but that doesn’t require hours of my time. I can try it and if I love it, great. It lands in my makeup bag. If not, it goes back to the store. But books? They can be free and I’ll still hedge, because they require a greater time commitment. I rarely read beyond the treadmill because I don’t frequently find books that hook me. If I’m going to one-click, it had better be something special.

Murderous woman with very scary eyes licking the blood of her knifeSome authors have embraced the concept of innovation in their writing because they know being different,
gritty and edgy is a good way to set their names apart in the market. Menage and BDSM were all the rage not so long ago but now those books get lost in the shuffle of deviant sex tales. Fifty Shades opened up a whole new genre for readers but now there’s a glut and one has to wonder, what’s next? Let’s venture into the land of sex with prehistoric creatures and toasters and you’ve got a brand-new taboo subgenere for readers to sink their teeth into. Teeth…oh jeez, is cannibalism next??? Hot sex followed by dinner a la Hannibal Lecter, coupled with a nice Chanti and some fava beans? That would give a whole new meaning to characters tasting one another…wink, wink.

So what does all this mean if you’re an author trying to hit it big with your books, the ones you’ve poured your heart and soul into for months and months? What if you aren’t passionate about writing appliance erotica??? Are you destined for failure?

Here’s the truth. I don’t know. There are marketing tactics that have worked wonders for my sales and there are ones that have completely tanked. Unfortunately, no one tactic will launch a new author to NYT bestseller status unless you’re a Kardashian. There IS a magic formula but nobody knows exactly what elements are included and what worked even a year ago probably won’t have the same impact now because of the thousands of competing books published every week. So it’s mainly trial and error, and you have to be okay with that.

If you really are passionate about your writing, keep it up. You have to be able to look back and say, “I did it for me.” You may never win an award or hit a bestseller list but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. When you give up on something you love because you’re frustrated with the outcome… that’s when you’ve failed.

So just keep calm and write. =)

Guest Blog Post – Gabriel Weinberg, Founder of DuckDuckGo

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!!!! Today is the launch of Traction – How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth, co-authored by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares and in support of the release, I’m thrilled to host a guest post by Gabriel Weinberg, founder of the search engine DuckDuckGo, that provides insight to what you can expect from this invaluable startup marketing handbook. The concepts are applicable to any startup endeavor and a resource I’d recommend to any entrepreneur. But don’t take my word for it…the reviews speak volumes.  With success stories like Seth Godin and Alexis Ohanian singing its praises, you can’t go wrong. My advice? One-click. NOW.

6 Common Traction Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

I’ve made every one of these six common mistakes in the pursuit of traction. They’re so easy to make because they’re all counter-intuitive, working against your natural instincts. I hope you can avoid them! Like with a lot of issues, the first step is recognizing and acknowledging you have a problem.

Mistake #1: Not seeking traction early enough.

The secret to a successful launch is to focus on getting traction right from the beginning of product development, by continually pouring a steady stream of cold customers into your product (leaky bucket) while you are building it.

hand holding a tin bucket with holes on black background

That’s the only way to really find out where the leaks are, as your beta customers are too close to you and don’t have fresh eyes. By running fast and cheap traction tests, you also figure out pre-launch what niche to market to initially, what marketing will resonate with that niche, and what marketing channel to use to reach them. In other words, you discover a credible distribution strategy, such that when you launch you can actually get traction right away.

Mistake #2: Not setting an explicit traction goal.

Your traction goal should be enough traction to reach an inflection point in your company. When just starting out, this is usually one of three things:

  1. Enough traction to raise money;
  2. Enough traction to be profitably self-sustaining; or
  3. Enough traction to prove to your extended team that you have product/market fit.

Once you have a hard number, you can measure your traction efforts against this explicit traction goal. If a marketing strategy in its best case won’t move the needle in terms of your goal, then you shouldn’t do it, even if you know it will get you some traction.

Mistake #3: Not considering all 19 traction channels.

cono redondo target con sombra rojoIn talking to and studying hundreds of successful entrepreneurs for Traction (the book), we found that there are 19 different customer acquisition channels companies use to get traction.

A key insight was that often the most successful startups were using under-utilized channels in their industry. In other words, asking what channels are good for B2B or B2C or a particular situation is the wrong question. The right question is how could I possibly use each of the 19 channels, quickly followed by a creative brainstorm. This is the first step in our Bullseye Framework for getting traction.

Mistake #4: Not doing fast and cheap traction tests.

When testing traction channels, the goal is to run fast and cheap marketing tests to roughly answer the following three questions:

  1. How much will it cost to acquire customers through this channel?
  2. How many customers are available through this channel?
  3. Are the customers that you are getting through this channel the kind of customers that you want right now?

Some founders mess up this step by prematurely scaling their marketing efforts. Keep in mind that, when testing channels, you are not trying to get a lot of traction with a channel just yet. Instead, you are simply trying to determine if it’s a channel that could move the needle for your startup. Your main consideration at this point is speed — to get data and to prove your assumptions.

Mistake #5: Not focusing on one core channel.

At any stage in a startup’s life cycle, one traction channel usually dominates in terms of customer acquisition. That is why we suggest focusing on one at a time, but only after you’ve identified a channel that seems like it could actually achieve your traction goal.

The way this step gets most often messed up by founders and marketers is by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other traction channels, especially earlier efforts that no longer move the needle but once did. This is additionally confusing because oftentimes focusing on your core channel involves channel strategies that utilize other traction channels. One channel is still dominant, but others feed into it. Focusing is the only way to truly become an expert at your core channel, which you need to do if you’re going to uncover cutting edge tactics within it, which often have non-linear rewards.

Mistake #6: Not using a structured approach.

There are nineteen different traction channels, and most founders consider only a few. That’s a big mistake because often under-utilized channels in a given industry have the greatest growth potential. Yet, at the same time, you can’t try all nineteen at once effectively.

You need to apply a framework for getting traction like the Bullseye Framework we present in Traction. It is a simple, three-step framework that involves brainstorming across all channels, testing a few at a time, and then focusing on whatever channel seems capable and most probable of reaching your pre-defined traction goal (you defined one right?). Whether you use our framework or another or your own, please take a structured approach to getting traction.

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Explosive Growth Is The Goal & Traction Is The Key

Most startups don’t fail because they can’t build a product.
Most startups fail because they can’t get traction. 
You may be aware of a book called Traction, penned by Gabriel Weinberg (@yegg, founder of DuckDuckGo) and Justin Mares. What you may not know is that they’re releasing a 2nd edition on October 6, and as part of the re-launch, they’re hosting virtual office hours with local startup communities who collectively order 25+ copies (that’s really not that many). You can pre-order it right now for about $15 on Amazon, which is nothing if it helps your business grow even 1% faster.
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Traction covers each of the 19 marketing channels available to startups (with a full chapter on each), and lays out a simple framework that will help you figure out the channels that are likely to grow your business. The book also includes interviews and case studies from the founders of Reddit, Wikipedia, Kayak and more, where they talk about how they got traction in the early days of their companies, and how they scaled.  The book has been praised by Eric Ries, Fred Wilson, Alexis Ohanian, and James Altucher.  See www.tractionbook.com to for some interesting sound bytes.
If this appeals to you (and you can grab the first 3 chapters for free here http://tractionbook.com/traction.pdf), grab a copy through this link so we can get you some sweet perks:
  • If you buy 25 copies through that link, you get to hold office hours with Gabriel Weinberg.
  • If you buy 250 copies through that link, Justin Mares will come to your city and give a workshop on getting traction.
This is a really great opportunity to purchase a copy of a really helpful book and to get some personal time with two successful startup business founders.
Want to experience explosive growth for your business? Traction is the key.

Whistle While You Work…Or Run…Or Play Foosball

My workspace is pretty standard, very practical, but kind of boring if I’m being honest. Lots of desk space, tons of papers covering said space, cabinets, laptops, ever-present mug of coffee. I try to keep it organized but it’s not easy when ideas are constantly flowing out of my head and onto Post-Its. My name is Kristen and I’m a Post-It addict. Whenever I get a thought, I jot it down and stick it…well, wherever I can find space, which is a commodity.

Post it papers flying out from laptop

I sometimes wonder, how awesome would it be to create a workspace according to my own dream specifications? Like maybe a space where I could take a quick break and run on the treadmill to keep the creative juices flowing? With plush couches where I can plop down when the knots in my neck tighten after being hunched over my laptop for hours on end? One with large, floor to ceiling windows, lots of greenery, light, airy rooms and a fabulous view for inspiration? Maybe one with a nicely stocked refrigerator with lots of champagne so I can reward myself after spending the day agonizing over scenes and plot twists? It would be awesome to have a large-screen wall hanging television for those times I just need a mental break and want to watch re-runs of Impractical Jokers. And of course, a huge whiteboard for all those dang Post-Its would be nice!

modern empty office interior

Well, guess what? There is a company out there that can help me achieve my work zen, called WeWork. You signup to become a member and select from several packages that allow you different levels of access to custom workspaces. You can book a space for a day or longer, depending on your needs. Maybe you just want to have a couple of days a month where you venture off to another location to keep things percolating. You have that option with WeWork. And if you happen to be traveling to another location and need to reserve a spot while you are there, go to WeWork for options! It’s that simple.

The company has space in all the big hubs across the United States, with additional locations in Israel, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

So even if you aren’t traveling for business, maybe you just need a periodic escape to recharge your batteries. Comfort + mental calm = PRODUCTIVITY!!!