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May 22, 2007

Resources for Entrepreneurs

Tonight is the TechStars reception where a bunch of local entrepreneurs are going to meet a bunch of (for the most part) brand new entrepreneurs.  You can read more at TechStars.org or David Cohen's description of the organization at Coloradostartups.com.

When Jim and I started Gold Systems, I think we knew approximately Zero entrepreneurs.  I had email and access to Usenet, but there was no web, so information about starting a company came from the library or a kind soul willing to share their hard-earned lessons.  My big break came when I landed on a prospect list for the Young Entrepreneurs Organization.  Brad Feld and Vern Harnish had just moved to Boulder and they wanted to start a Colorado Chapter and lucky for me I opened the door when opportunity knocked.

Vern and Brad both spend a lot of time helping entrepreneurs, but it is mind-boggling how much information is available to this new batch of entrepreneurs just from their web browser.  A reader recently sent me a link to an article he wrote on raising angel money at businessfund.com.  Good stuff, and he has a lot to say about VoIP (Voice over IP) which I found interesting on his other blog, VoIPLowDown.com.

Now the problem is sorting through all the information and figuring out what is good and what isn't so good.  Another local company, Lijit, has come up with a solution.  I've replaced my generic search box on my blog, with a Wijit from Lijit.  It looks like a typical search box, except that it doesn't just search the entire web, it starts with only the blogs that I subscribe to myself.  If you type in "Raising Angel Money" into my Lijit Wijit like so:

Lijit_box  You'll first get the results from terrygold.com where I've mentioned "Raising Angel Money" but at the bottom of the page, you'll also have the option of searching other sources that I would recommend (since I read them myself).  In this case it returns four other places to look so you don't have to wade through all the "get rich quick" ads that a typical search engine might return.  Unfortunately it misses some great sources that don't have RSS feeds, such as the Kauffman Foundation, BillPayne.com and JimCollins.com.  (Hey Todd, how about it?)  I hope these new entrepreneurs appreciate just how nice it is to have all this information at their fingertips!

UPDATE 1:  Todd Vernon, the CEO of Lijit, just left the comment below less than an hour after I mentioned his company.  I have to ask - do YOU know what people are saying about your company as well as Todd seems to know?  There are great tools that are available today for new entrepreneurs.  Someone should package them up into a "CEO Dashboard" - but don't sell them to MY competitors please!



Todd says, "Thanks for the nice writeup. We gotcha covered on the alternate URL's to search. First, as you know if they are listed on your site (like a blog roll) we will find those all by ourselves and include them.

But in case they are not on there just goto the "My Network" tab within lijit. The bottom item on the list is "Add URL / RSS / OPML feed". Add the url to the site and you got it!"

Thanks Todd!  I'll add a few right now.


May 22, 2007 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 21, 2007

The gethuman standard

There are amazing things happening in the world of communications, which is one reason I haven't had as much time to devote to my blog as I'd like.  Technology is speeding ahead, sometimes to our frustration, but at the same time I can see the cost of communications continuing to drop and the ease and convenience continuing to improve.  Not all of these advances involve technology though.  One initiative is something called the gethuman standard.

The gethuman standard started with a guy named Paul English who was frustrated and feeling like he was often trapped by automated telephone systems.  I've been in the business of building those systems for 16 years, and believe me I know they can be frustrating.  I also believe though that with good design they can be great.  What started as one guy trying to make a difference has turned into a much larger effort by individuals and corporations who have a simple belief - if you show to customers that you appreciate their business and you make it easy for them to reach you, they'll buy more stuff.  (Those are my words by the way.)

I've been given permission to reproduce the standard here, but if you want to find out more just go to gethuman.com.  I don't know of any system that completely implements the standard, but it's something to strive for.  I doubt if any consumer would argue with any of the points in the standard.  Here it is - feel free to comment.  --terry

The gethuman standards have been designed with simplicity and directness as to eliminate ambiguity and enable testing and certification. There may be more than one way to accomplish each, but the result must be as follows:

  1. The caller must always be able to dial 0 or to say "operator" to queue for a human.
  2. An accurate estimated wait-time, based on call traffic statistics at the time of the call, should always be given when the caller arrives in the queue. A revised update should be provided periodically during hold time.
  3. Callers should never be asked to repeat any information (name, full account number, description of issue, etc.) provided to a human or an automated system during a call.
  4. When a human is not available, callers should be offered the option to be called back. If 24 hour service is not available, the caller should be able to leave a message, including a request for a call back the following business day. Gold Standard: Call back the caller at a time that they have specified.
  5. Speech applications should provide touch-tone (DTMF) fall-back.
  6. Callers should not be forced to listen to long/verbose prompts.
  7. Callers should be able to interrupt prompts (via dial-through for DTMF applications and/or via barge-in for speech applications) whenever doing so will enable the user to complete his task more efficiently.
  8. Do not disconnect for user errors, including when there are no perceived key presses (as the caller might be on a rotary phone); instead queue for a human operator and/or offer the choice for call-back.
  9. Default language should be based on consumer demographics for each organization. Primary language should be assumed with the option for the caller to change language. (i.e. English should generally be assumed for the US, with a specified key for Spanish.) Gold Standard: Remember the caller's language preference for future calls. Gold Standard: Organizations should ideally support separate toll-free numbers for each individual language.
  10. All operators/representatives of the organization should be able to communicate clearly with the caller (i.e. accents should not hinder communication; representatives should have excellent diction and enunciation.)

May 21, 2007 in Speech Recognition | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 02, 2007

A new car computer in the FJ?

Marshall Harrison, the "Got Speech Guy", emailed me a link to a new car computer, called the HIPE PC that is on the market.  (Is HIPE PC a good name?  Sounds like Hype PC to me, but they have a great website that reminds me of Dell's)

I have yet to get my Infill T3 working the way I want it to, and this one looks like it could be a better option.  It's a lot more powerful - 2.33ghz processor, 2GB of memory, and a 200GB hard drive.  Plus it already runs Vista and it is built with more mainstream components than the Infill.  I also like that the computer is separate from the touch screen, so I could mount it in the back of the FJ, next to the Xbox Elite.

May 2, 2007 in Car Computer | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack