Friday, April 29, 2011

Asking for money can be fun

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to Amber Lounge on last Wednesday night to celebrate All Things Wishful's launch!  It was amazing to be surrounded by a large room of people who had come out to get excited with us about our business.  Despite the rainy, windy weather (did we mention we are in Seattle?), the stars aligned for our launch party.  In keeping with All Things Wishful's goal of helping engaged couples get the gifts they want, our co-host was fellow Seattle start-up was CupidsPlay, a clever social gaming and online dating site started by  veteran entrepreneurs and friends of ours.  Add a signature drink named Cupid's Wish (for CupidsPlay and All Things Wishful - get it?) and a couple hundred very nice-looking (and very nice) people, and we had the perfect celebration of our businesses.  Kudos to Arry for orchestrating this fabulous night.

All night, as we were telling our guests about our awesome product, we were again struck by how what All Things Wishful does seems to really resonate with people.  Sometimes, the most thoughtful gift is cash.  With cash, you can get what you want, when you want, from wherever want.  The only thing is that it isn't always an easy thing to ask for.  Well, that's what All Things Wishful is here for.  We make asking for money fun and easy.  AND we make giving money fun and meaningful for your friends.  Check out our cool platform at:


Thursday, April 7, 2011

At last, All Things Wishful is alive!

At long last, after a year of anticipation, All Things Wishful is up and running!  
Here is a little bit about All Things Wishful for those of you who have followed us but don't yet quite know what we're all about.

We are a gift registry and fundraising platform that stemmed out of our belief that gift giving and receiving should be meaningful, easy and fun.  We are about offering gift receivers the flexibility to choose what they really want rather than what is available at the store.  We are about offering gift givers the satisfaction of giving gifts that the receiver truly wants rather than a gift that was requested merely because of their accessibility.  Our company mantra is “No more waste!” – We are about giving both gift receivers and givers a gift exchange experience that reduces waste in shipping and handling costs as well as returns.

As with every start-up, this past year of building All Things Wishful has been filled with a lot of fun as well as a few set-backs.  What kept us going through tough times is our conviction that our site is absolutely necessary in the world of gift giving and fundraising.  Michael, Arry and I (Mina) are so excited that we are finally at a point that we can share our site with you!


Come visit us at:
Learn more about how this site came about here
Learn how the site works here.
Tell us what you think here

Saturday, March 12, 2011

social media check-in

Social media adds value to our lives in many ways - with some of them seemingly more dumb that others to some people.  For me, it's all fun.  It adds a little color here and there to my day.  I get this stupid grin on my face and sometimes I may even add a silly squeal to that when I get a badge from one of my check-ins.  It's not real, no where near real, but who cares?  It's fun for me (and a zillion others).  Why you ask?  How is this fun?

Click here to read the rest of the article.


the rules are changing for women (and men)

I'm a sucker for TED.  As I've gotten older, I also prefer the company of women for friends.  In my career, most of my colleagues have been men - recently as I have had the opportunity to venture out on my own (until this past week), I've had the opportunity to choose women to be my clients and colleagues.  Here's a summary of my thoughts from my past 5 years:

The rules for women (and men) are changing:
Liza touches some interesting points.  Back in the day, say children born in the 1960s and earlier, life was different.  Boys became men by having muscles, working on cars, and being protectors and providers...  Girls became women by wearing pink and dresses, taking home economics, and learning to bake and the art of being sweet and soft.  Now - it's different.  Click here to read the rest of the article.


websites for small businesses should be cheap

Websites are expensive.  Like our All Things Wishful CTO says, "they're like sausage - tastes good at the end, but man, what a mess it is to make it."  And wow, seriously, it is quite a lot of work creating just the right site from scratch.  Having worked in consulting first with ginormous technology clients for many years, websites are also a majorly expensive venture.  Thousands and thousands of dollars, a zillion hours... pushing that damn pixel up and down, playing with fonts and copy.  Logos.  Design.  Usability and user experience.  Buttons.  Security.  Privacy.  Data...

But what about the small businesses that want a nice website for their bar or restaurant, yoga studio, photography business?  Why should they have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to a firm or freelancer to build them a website - that might, just really suck and they wouldn't know it?  WHY!?  WHY!?  WHY!?  When a small business wants a nice website with a nice home page, a menu, a contact us page, a blog, some photos...  they should not be burning valuable resournces on hiring a developer (or few) to build a website.  HELLZ NO.  I've had the opportunity to work with a bunch of small women-owned businesses with their website needs recently, and here are some thoughts:  Click here to read the rest of the article.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beta testing complete!

A break in posts on business growth for some exciting news:  We have completed an initial round of beta testing.  Our dear friends and family were kind enough to give us some very detailed and honest (we think!) feedback on our product.  We are not quite at "Go" right now, but we are definitely at "Set."  Very excited to announce our launch SOON!


Friday, January 21, 2011

What Affects Small Business Growth? Part IV: Capital

Having already discussed how founder experience, background and aspirations affects business growth, I’d like to talk about capital.  This is the eight hundred pound gorilla in the small business world – whether you internally generate financial capital or raise it externally, you can’t grow without it.   Financial capital offers you, the business owner, the ability to implement growth strategies, hire talented employees, develop better products and explore new markets.  
While numerous studies have documented that financial capital does indeed affect revenue and employment growth, the most interesting demonstration of the role of financial capital comes from studies that show what happens when you don’t have capital.  Researchers Fairlie and Robb, through two large sample studies using data from the Census Bureau, the first comparing black business owners to white business owners and the second comparing women owners to male owners, show the extent to which lack of access to capital can influence the growth and survival of companies.   They found that the disparity in access to capital explained 23.6 percent of the difference in sales between black and white firms, 36.9 percent of the difference in number of employees, and 43.2 percent of the difference in rate of closures.   For differences between women and male owners, difference in access to financial capital was responsible for 15 percent of the difference in sales, 32 percent of the differences in number of employees, and 44.7 percent of the difference in rate of closures.
Financial capital, though, isn’t the only important form of capital.  Of course, there is “human capital” – the experiences, skills and personality traits you bring to the table as I discussed in earlier posts, but increasingly human and financial capital cannot explain in entirety why some companies grow and others don’t.  The final form of capital is social – the resources mobilized through your social networks.  Because this form of capital is less visible and less tangible than the other two forms of capital, this is what is often at work when business owners talk about the “luck” component of success (there is no such thing as luck!).
There are a myriad studies that show how social capital affects people and businesses.  Here are a few that pertain specifically to small businesses and their growth.
In a now-classic in-depth study of apparel firms, researcher Uzzi showed that strong ties to business groups – or informal groups of independent businesses linked through friendship, family or shared equity ties – had greater chances of survival and attributed this to trust between the parties that lead to the sharing of resources and joint problem-solving.  In a study of 973 businesses that participated in the hospital software systems industry over 30 years, researchers Singh and Mitchell showed that the chance of a business dying increased when its strategic partner stopped operations or created a linkage with a different firm.  

Social capital can be a little more complex than just having a lot of relationships.  Researcher Stuart showed that not all relationships have equal effect on growth.  Through a study of 150 semiconductor firms, he showed that firms that have alliances with bigger partners (in terms of revenue) enjoyed growth than firms that had alliances with smaller partners.  He explained that this is because of the reputational advantages of being associated with a large, well endowed firm in addition to the greater access granted through these bigger partners to customers and distribution channels.

The relationships that a firm maintains matter, but so do the relationships of the contacts themselves.  Maintaining a network in which contacts are not connected to each other can be more beneficial because they can provide information and resources that are unique and non-redundant to what other contacts in the network can provide.  My own study of 256 Silicon Valley entrepreneurs showed that the less connected the entrepreneurs’ contacts are to each other, the greater the amount of financial capital entrepreneurs were able to receive.  Greater financial capital, as shown in the previous section, is associated with greater growth.   

Finally, the attention received by business incubators and industry clusters for their positive impact on business and economic growth highlight what is essentially the positive impact of networks across organizations.  Incubators are an option for businesses that want to reduce costs by sharing equipment and support staff and to receive onsite counseling and consultations.  Beyond these benefits, incubators facilitate peer-to-peer mentoring and the leveraging of each others’ networks.  Furthermore, belonging to an incubator can increase the legitimacy of start-ups, increasing the likelihood that suppliers and clients will want to work with them.   Likewise, industry clusters, or “geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries, and associated institutions” according to researcher Porter, offer considerable cost savings to members of the cluster thanks to greater access to specialized input suppliers and business services, a larger pool of specialized workers, and greater likelihood of attaining public infrastructure that is oriented towards that particular industry.  

Coming up next:  Management team and business growth
Fairlie, R. W. and A. M. Robb (2007). "Why are Black-owned businesses less successful than white-owned buinesses?  The role of families, inheritances, and business human capital." Journal of Labor Economics 25(2): 289-323.

Fairlie, R. W. and A. M. Robb (2009). "Gender Differences in Business Performance: Evidence from the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey." Small Business Economics v33(n4): 375-95.

Porter, M. (2001). Cluster of innovation:  Fregional foundations of U.S. competitiveness. Council of Competitiveness, Washington, D.C.

Stuart, T. E. (2000). "Interorganizational Alliances and the Performance of Firms: A Study of Growth and Innovation Rates in a High-Technology Industry." Strategic Management Journal 21(8): 791-811.

Uzzi, B. D. (1996). "The sources and consequences of embeddedness for the economic performance of organizations:  The network effect." American Sociological Review 61: 674-698.

Yoo, M. (2004). "Ties that unbind: Networks and performance among Silicon Valley immigrant entrepreneurs." 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

what makes an influencer?

INFLUENCERS FULL VERSION from R+I creative on Vimeo.

If you haven't already, check out Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point.  This post was inspired by: @Gearheadgal, and the site


Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Affects Small Business Growth? Part III: Industry Experience and Education

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote.  In my defense, a few things have happened in those two weeks:  I had a baby (the adorable and already charming Kai Yoo Whitmore), bought a new house, and had six family members come in for the holidays.  Oh, and I got pink eye somehow and couldn’t open my eye without massive amounts of pain and tears for several days.  Now that I am able to see again, I thought I would post another entry continuing on the topic of small business growth.
So far, we’ve seen research that showed that aspiration and intention are key in small business growth as are general management and leadership skills.  That is all well and good, but how about specific knowledge about your industry and product?  To what extent does that matter?  Relatedly, how about education?
Specific experience in same/closely related industry

Is industry experience important?

In their study comparing rapid- and slow-growth firms,  Barringer, Jones and Neubaum found that 76 percent of founders in the rapid-growth group (with an average compound annual growth rate of 167.29 over three years) and 1.55 percent over three years, respectively) had worked in the same or close related industry while only 24 percent of founders had similar experience in the slow-growth group (with an average compound annual growth rate of 1.55 percent over three years). In explaining how previous experience in the same industry affects growth, they suggested that in addition to knowledge, experience in the industry gives access to a network of contacts who can provide resources for the growth of the current firm.

Similarly highlighting the important of industry experience, Stam and Wennberg, in their a study of over 600 firms, found that the greater the industry experience of the founder, the greater the employment growth of the firm in the first six years of their lives.

Will your years of education pay off in growing your business?

Barringer, Jones and Neubaum discovered that more founders of high-growth firms had a college education compared with founders of slow-growth firms.    Researchers Fairlie and Robb showed that compared with business owners who are high school drop-outs, college graduates have  25 percent higher sales. Owners who have completed graduate school have sales that are roughly 37 percent higher than college graduates.   Education can provide founders with technical skills relevant to their businesses while the process of getting educated in formal group settings can entrench the owners in networks that later prove to be useful in the growth of their ventures.

Education can have an indirect effect as well.  Wiklund & Shepherd show that education, like management experience, magnifies the positive effect of growth aspiration on actual growth. 
The moral of these studies:  Knowledge = growth.
Coming up next: Financial and social capital and business growth
Barringer, B. R., F. F. Jones, et al. (2005). "A quantitative content analysis of the characteristics of rapid-growth firms and their founders." Journal of business venturing. 20(5): 663.

Fairlie, R. W. and A. M. Robb (2007). "Why are Black-owned businesses less successful than white-owned buinesses?  The role of families, inheritances, and business human capital." Journal of Labor Economics 25(2): 289-323.

Stam, E. and K. Wennberg (2009). "The roles of R&D in new firm growth." SBU Small Business Economics 33(1): 77-89.

Wiklund, J. and D. Shepherd (2003). "Aspiring for, and Achieving Growth: The Moderating Role of Resources and Opportunities  *." Journal of Management Studies 40(8): 1919-1941.

Monday, December 20, 2010

collaborating and sharing: the power of we

2010 is coming to a close: Looking back now as the year 2010 is coming to a close, it’s quite amazing to see where I am, where my friends/family are, and society in general as a whole.  There’s no doubt that the general consensus is that 2010 was a year of epic change for many of us.  Epic: for many of my friends/family that moved to new cities to begin new lives, some closed the chapter on long relationships, and some began new chapters with new career changing moves.  Me?  I am sitting here, on a Monday, having just finished cooking all morning, plowing through my piles of books, and thinking about what I need to get done today so I can go to bed with a clear conscience – I need this clear conscience saying I added value to the world today.  I spend a lot of time analyzing and thinking.

Our world has changed.  The world has gone through some crazy changes.  Our irresponsible ways of hyper consumption have caused the collapse of our financial systems - because there is a price for everything. The world is stretching and working its muscles as we are being forced to change – and change very quickly.  No pain, no gain, right?  We have had a change of power in our government (US) – and more changes will come to bear as the old inefficient processes and systems undergo more scrutiny.  We’ve been shuffled into a new world of sharing, thanks to the world of technology and all that’s happened during start of the 21st century. 

The power of we:  Sharing.  Collaboration.  Co-working.  Collaboration.  Co-paying.  That’s where the past decade has taken us.  Isn’t it amazing?  Now, with the simple click of a button – I can reach out to thousands of people, some of whom I know very well, and some of whom I’ve never met. Thanks to technology, we have a system of trust happening between complete strangers.  We have a global community.  Flickr.  Yelp.  Twitter.  Facebook.  YouTube.  Foursquare.  It’s so simple.  We are connected.  We have moved from the individualistic culture focused on “me” (20th Century) to a collaborative one that understands the power of “we” (21st century).  There’s hope for us yet! 

Examples: The average consumer today is no longer the passive one just taking in like before – today, we are proactive, informed, and collaborative.  We trust the recommendation from a peer over the one that is produced by the system. 
  • We bargain hunt and reuse/redistribute goods and services via communities like Craigslist.  Why pay $1,200 for the brandnew TV when I can get a working one for $500?  How about I trade you my season 1 of LOST for your season 1 of the Sopranos?  I’ll fix your iPhone if you help me setup my iTunes.
  • We’re more collaborative.  Now you can land on the comfy couch of a complete stranger while couch-surfing your way through Europe (  You have multiple designers working together to build witty tee shirts (  You can work with a stranger who has the gardening skills to grow food in your extra plot of backyard space (
  • We share products.  What if you could have all the benefits of a product without having to own the product outright?  I’m talking about a culture where access to this product is more valuable than actually owning it (,,  With Netflix, I don’t want a pile of DVDs, I want the movies.  I don’t want stuff – I want all of the needs and experiences that the stuff can give.
Trust.  I spent a great deal of time working with some researchers in the domain of trust/internet security and privacy – so all of this collaborate, sharing goodness requires trust.  Reputation is paramount – and is being created with every interaction you have in the world wide web. Reputation and social credit is the new currency of how products/services are being sold.  We’re headed towards a more sustainable system that makes the collective good the priority.

All Things Wishful: So as you know, the three of us (Arry, Mina, Michael) are working on a startup called All Things Wishful.  We hope to help the change the world a little bit through our product that helps communities collaborate and share.  We’re hitting beta now – so keep your eyes peeled!