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Monday, August 11, 2014

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter is Entrepreneur Central

I have been hearing the buzz word crowdfunding for a while now, but I didn't witness it first hand until recently. Crowdfunding is essentially a way to generate funding for a project utilizing the internet. One of the more popular crowdfunding sites that I just started using is Kickstarter.

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted a link on his Facebook saying that his little cousin was trying to raise money for a youth t-shirt fishing brand. I thought that was interesting and I like to support fellow entrepreneurs, so I clicked on the link. I wound up on Kickstarter's website and watched a 3 minute video from this cute kid telling me all about what he was trying to do. He sold me! So I made a small donation for his project and investigated this Kickstarter thing a little further.
Kickstarter company logo www.kickstarter.com
What I found on their website was really intriguing. First off, Kickstarter is a place for funding music, games, art, design, and technology. The creators of these projects keep 100% ownership and the backers are normally given a "thank you," physical product, or some other incentive depending on how much
money they pledge. These projects never get off the ground (aka get any of the $) unless they meet their funding goal 100%. Funding goals seem to vary anywhere from $1000 to $1 million. The key is you have to have a great idea and present it really well through videos and social media.

Anyone heard of Oculus Rift? They are a virtual reality video game console maker that raised $2.4 million on Kickstarter in September of 2012. Facebook went on to buy them for $2 billion. Another funding success story was the Pebble Smartphone watch, which raised over $10 million in 2012. There are many other big time projects that came out of Kickstarter and it is truly impressive.

My advice to all you entrepreneurs and creative geniuses. If you can't find the funding, get your idea on Kickstarter, you never know what could happen!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Great Great Smartphone Debate

A long heated debate that never seems to die down is which type of smartphone is better, Android or Apple? I worked in the smartphone business for a good period of time, so I am going to give you my opinion on the matter. Let me start off with some of the major differences between the two. Just to clarify Apple uses iOS as the operating system for their phones and Android is the OS developed by Google. The operating system is the software that manages your phones resources and applications.

One of the first differences is that a large amount of phone manufacturers use the Android software, whereas Apple is the only one using iOS. Some of the popular brands that use Android are Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Huawei. The nice thing about this is that you have more styles of
phones to choose from (big screens, little screens, etc). On the other hand, iOS is currently only being used on Apple phones and it may stay that way forever! Secondly, Android offers a lot of customization on the screen of their phones by using widgets. Widgets are customizable applications that you can place on your screen which display readily available information (i.e. a weather app widget that shows your city, temperature, and chance of rain). These widgets display information without you actually having to open the app. Apple iOS doesn't currently offer these types of widgets on their phones. Third, with Android you download your music, apps, movies, books, etc. through the Google Play Store. In order to download these items, Google makes you sign up for a Gmail account (whether you decide to actually use it for email is up to you). With Apple iOS, you use several different apps to download content such as the App Store, iTunes, and Newstand. Contrary to Android, Apple lets you use your existing email account as your Apple ID in order to download content from their stores. Fourth, Android is less strict on the type of applications made available in their marketplace. Apple on the other hand has a very rigid hold on what is released in their App Store, which for security sake is good, but variety not so much.

With that being said, I have owned both types of phones and my favorite one is currently..............Apple. I must say though that my favor is only slight because there are some awesome Android phones available. One thing that gives Apple the edge in my mind is the sleek, slender, and smooth design of their phones. You can tell they really put tremendous work into their design and they don't make their phones feel "cheap."Additionally, the user experience with the different apps and the iOS software is exceptional. Let the debate continue!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Want Unique? Buy on Ebay

People all around the globe shop on eBay daily. But why is there such a strong love for this marketplace? This article will detail a few of the best reasons I believe people become die hard eBay customers.

One big reason for their loyalty is the diverse range of products sold on eBay. With eBay, you can find anything from a rare 1940 basketball card to the latest iPad. I recently bought a "Breaking Bad" T-shirt on eBay that I have never seen anyone wear before. The amount of products and unique items sold on eBay daily are countless.

Secondly, you can normally buy the products you are looking for at the absolute lowest prices on the web. There are tons of people selling items they no longer need or never ended up using which really creates a buyer's market. Additionally, since there are so many listings on the site it keeps prices extremely competitive.

Another factor that I believe sellers really like about eBay is there is a bit of a gamble factor to selling your stuff. When you put an item up for auction and it starts getting bids, there is a level of excitement about not knowing how much it will sell for. This keeps things very interesting and actually motivates you to sell more items.

Another reason sellers enjoy eBay is it makes you feel like you are running your own small business. You can sell whatever you want, whenever you want, and at whatever price you want! On top of that there are so many people browsing the site, you have a really good chance of making a sale. Some people become so good at selling on eBay they make it a full time career and gain "Powerseller" status.

With that being said eBay is truly a marketplace at work. Buyers and sellers gather here setting prices based on supply and demand. This truly is a great company and showcases the power of the consumer!

Stubhub.com A Great Ticket Buying Marketplace

If you have ever wanted to get a great deal on tickets for an event, Stubhub.com should be your first stop. This website offers lots of tickets for sale for any type of event, concert, game, or show. All of the tickets are listed on the site by different users that are looking to sell their tickets. You can usually snag a good deal on events that aren't sold out. Those events that are sold out, you will see tickets for sale as well, but of course those won't be cheap!

My ticket buying experience on this website has been excellent to say the least. I have purchased great tickets for Miami Heat games, Miami Dolphins, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, and more. 9 times out of 10 I have bought tickets for about 20% cheaper than going directly through Ticketmaster. Looking at all of the other ticket buying websites out there, Stubhub offers tickets at some of the best prices on the web. Also, many of the tickets are instant downloads so you receive them immediately after your purchase. Additionally, Stubhub is a great place to sell your extra tickets. They make it super simple and you just upload your ticket directly to their website.

On top of that, this website is owned by eBay so it is super safe and secure. Stubhub also has a FanProtect Guarantee that basically ensures the tickets you buy are legit and will be delivered on time. They take out 99.9% of the risk of the secondary market ticket buying experience. So make sure to give them a try, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Is Bitcoin the Real Deal?

Bitcoin has received more hype and attention than almost anything else in 2013. Just to make sure we are all on the same page, bitcoin is a virtual currency that you can use to buy and sell goods or services. It can also be used to seamlessly transfer money between people by bypassing the banking system. Bitcoin is not backed by anything, but the value of it is based on supply/demand and the popularity of the currency. Additionally, there are only supposed to be 21 million bitcoins that will ever be put into existence. Right now there are said to be about 11 million bitcoins in circulation.


"bitcoin" photo taken by Steve Garfield
is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The question many of you may have is: How are bitcoins created? Bitcoins are "mined" by people who have computer hardware mining devices. These devices have to solve extremely complicated mathematical equations in order to generate a bitcoin. Miners typically "pool" together, meaning team up with other miners, because the process takes too long by yourself.

What are some of the advantages of a bitcoin?:
  1. Lower transaction fees for merchants who accept credit cards. Typically, merchants get charged fees of around 3-4% of the total sale price, with bitcoin it is between 0-1%.
  2. Bitcoin is not backed by any government, so technically more coins should not be carelessly created to devalue the currency. Additionally, one particular government's instability won't hurt the value.
  3. It is easy to transfer money between people and you can bypass the banking system. You can just log into your bitcoin wallet on the internet or on your phone, and send a payment to another person's wallet.
  4. Strong international appeal of the currency. Bitcoin currency is slowly starting to be used in multiple countries throughout the world.
  5. Bitcoin payments are secure, irreversible and said to reduce fraudulent transactions.
What are some of the disadvantages of bitcoin?
  1. Payments can be made somewhat anonymously, which can bring about shady business. There recently was a big FBI bust on an internet company called Silk Road that was using bitcoins to sell drugs.
  2. Volatile and erratic currency pricing since it is a new currency.
  3. Fear of your bitcoin being hacked or stolen since they are all virtual.
  4. It costs you money to purchase a bitcoin. It looks like the average rate for buying a bitcoin is about 1% of the purchase price.
One of the most intriguing factor's about bitcoin is it's increase in value over the past year. Bitcoin was valued at just $14 per coin in January 2013 and is now valued at around $930 per coin as of January 6, 2014. Wish I would've bought a few coins back then!!! To give you some perspective, at the end of August 2013 there were $1.5 billion worth of bitcoins in circulation. Everyone wants to know will this run keep going or is this a bubble waiting to burst.

Another positive note is that bitcoin has some large companies that are now accepting them. The two largest companies are Overstock.com and the app game maker Zynga. Additionally, bitcoin has some strong backing and venture capital funding within the tech community.

With that being said, I think this virtual currency is a very interesting idea. I like the fact that the amount of bitcoins outstanding is limited and that they may become a worldwide type of currency. If this sounds a little weird to you, remember what it was like when you first heard about the internet (I was totally lost!). Only time will tell what is going to happen with bitcoin. Will it be more valuable than gold or just another fools gold?