Saturday’s Kiva Dev Garage was a huge success with a great turnout and real progress on both some existing and entirely new projects. We had people working on iPhone and Facebook Apps, a Kiva loan browser, and lots of other cool things. My team worked on a WordPress Widget that is both really easy to install and hopefully really compelling and will lead to more people lending to Kiva Entrepreneurs. Check out this great video from the event:
There are few things that we at the Apture team find as exciting as combining Technology and Social Impact. This is why we have been fans of Kiva since the very beginning. One of our goals behind Apture was to better inform people about the world around them but being informed is only one piece of the puzzle – real change requires action. Kiva is one of quickest and easiest ways to make a difference in the life of a hard working, small entrepreneur in a developing country.
Kiva is of course also a technology shop and this weekend they are hosting the Kiva Developer Garage at their offices this Saturday, June 6 starting at 1pm. If you’re a developer in the Bay Area and want to hack on cool Kiva related projects and meet other people interested in Social Impact, you should definitely attend. A bunch of us, including myself will definitely be there so if you’re coming please tell us on Twitter and come say hi.
We do not celebrate our successes enough. When your moving quickly to create something big and meaningful, you sometimes forget to celebrate along the way. I am constantly looking at ways to reinforce the good work done by our employees. For example, if a customer has said something positive about the company, I take it back to the employees. I explain to them how their work furthered the company strategy. If an employee or team was singled out, then I make sure I talk to them and again relate it back to our strategic goals. Talking about current successes and relating it back to strategic goals is a great way to reinforce the belief in the company’s vision. People need to be constantly reminded that their work contributes to the company achieving its strategic vision.
This might same like stuff from the first lecture of Obvious 101 but when you’re in the middle of a startup and you have 50 things to do every day and more coming in every day you often forget to take a step back and really think about what you’ve accomplished. Additionally, the type of people that startups often attract are so focused on their work and just doing a great job that they don’t realize the importance of what they’ve just accomplished. At Apture we bought Champagne for celebrating our “official launch” (the one with lots of press) in June 2008 and it’s still sitting in the office unopened because we spent that entire day fixing bugs and revving the product and the same happened with every other release we do.
Dan is exactly right in pointing out how important rallying around a success is for your team spirit (and your own) and taking the time to celebrate is (almost) as important as releasing awesome products that people love. Oh, and Dan thanks for taking us all out to lunch this week, I think we came up with some great ideas!
Over the last two years, but especially in the last few months, Twitter has become an extremely efficient way of sharing information. You can follow people whose interests you share, learn from what they link to, and if you really like what they are saying you can share or retweet it. Only having 140 characters to communicate with forces people to become more and more succinct and it leads to very interesting behavior. This limit has made it OK to simply post a link combined with a short comment, something people are far more likely to do than write long blog posts. If people like it they will retweet it and people who see these retweets will do the same resulting in an extremely quick transmission of information. More importantly a search over that conversation will quickly let you see what people are saying and thinking about something – down to the last second.
A lot of people have been talking about the immense potential this offers to understand how people feel about any topic or product and learn from this data. Skittles was widely applauded for its innovative marketing campaign that turned skittles.com into a live display of what people were saying about skittles (including the campaign itself). At Apture we want to take the best ideas that people have on the web and make them available to everyone – to democratize them. With our new Apture Twitter Viewer anyone with a website can now integrate a live search stream about any topic right into their pages it takes less than ten seconds. We did this on apture.com/twitter/ and being able to see what people are saying about the things you write about is truly exhilarating - I’ve found myself visiting the page over and over to see what people are saying. It makes your webpage more powerful, more up-to-date, and gives your readers a reason to keep coming back. Apture user Steven Johnson realized this immediately and wrote an excellent post about the power of bringing internet conversations to your website with embedded Apture Twitter Viewer showing what people are saying about his new camera flash, the Lumopro 120.
We also pride ourselves on doing more than the obvious – apart from immediacy the most powerful features of Twitter are its interconnectedness and the ability to share. How often have you seen someone reply to someone else on Twitter and wished to quickly see the other side of that conversation? We make it easy, clicking on a person’s Twitter name inside of any Tweet will bring up their profile and Twitter stream. We do the same for hashtags, click on one to see what other people are saying about the topic. The other aspect is media. With the Apture Twitter Viewer will open any supported media you link to in a new Apture window so you can see it right there. We support Video, Images, Audio, Maps, and much more from more than 30 sources, all available right there.
Now combine immediacy, interconnectedness, and multi media sharing: See what people are saying about the things you care about, see who they are, where they are from, what else they are saying, and see all the media they like – isn’t that powerful. It really lets you dive into a conversation, all in just a few seconds.
It’s official now, Apture has raised $4.1 Million in Series A funding, led by Clearstone Ventures. We are all extremely excited and could not wish for a better partner in this – Clearstone immediately understood the big vision behind what we are doing and the new opportunities that it will open up. We got great press today including an excellent article on Techcrunch as well as lots and lots of congratulatory Tweets – you can read more about the actual announcement on the Apture blog. I’ve always said that laser focused companies with great ideas can still make it in the current environments and we are very happy to be another proof point for this. We have a lot that we want to accomplish and we now have the resources to really focus on executing our vision. Stay tuned.