I’m a big fan of crowdgiving and micro-donations but often find current solutions inefficient, boring and slow. I also haven’t come across any platform where charities and causes can plan, execute and collect all from the same platform.
Wizeo is a platform for micro-donations for your favorite causes and allows you to donate small amounts of money to enjoy live video events with inspiring and influential people.
Forget about the traditional, expensive and inefficient fundraising events and create engaging alternatives Online. Charities and causes get access to a live video all-in one micro donation platform from where they can plan, execute and run transactions.
Its good to give but giving should be easy and entertaining. That is why I’ve decided to help the awesome Wizeo team as an advisor.
Here is their Angelist profile if you’re interested in getting involved.
More than 10 million people search for local service providers every day in the US alone, yet this $30b market still relies heavily on the fragmented, ad hoc process of word-of-mouth recommendations.
Whodoyou solves a real world problem by helping you find trusted local businesses from friends and people your trust. It is also a golden opportunity for local businesses to develop a deeper ongoing relationship with their customers and lead generation to new potential customers.
I can’t even think of how many times I have been looking, searching and asking friends and neighbors for advise on handymen, plumbers, pediatricians and CPAs – you name it. Whodoyou the answer to this pain.
Currently the company taps into the vast bid data world of unstructured conversations on facebook (more services to come) applies NLP (Natural Language Processing) and turn them into structured, relevant and trusted data from friends.
The founders is a former MSFT PM Yoav Schwartz and Jeff Schneiderman the former CTO of Answers.com both brilliant tech guys each one in their own rights. For me this company have the perfect mix: a great solid team, huge market opportunity, product-market fit, a clear business model and solves a real world problem.
The cocktail of local/social/big data & APIs is a winner.
See you in Seoul on SparkLabs first annual NEXT conference! I will be there a week to mentor some startups and maybe even give a workshop.
I must say that for somebody who used to work at icq back in the day, this mobile messaging crazy is really fascinating. It is like IM is back again but much better and mobile. And it totally makes sense. Its like back to basics again. People are fed up with facebook which has become bloated with Ads, social recommendations and a sense of lack of privacy control. Google+ (which I actually like but few people use) is not really going anywhere. Twitter is great but getting spammy and does not fit for private or group communication.
Its all back to basics. Communication. That is why mobile communication apps are growing so fast. And that is why I like Whatsapp. It is simple, mobile, instant and free from social recommendation spam (SRS) Ads, and other annoying stuff. I can definitely see why some of the big companies would like to get their hands on it. Whatsapp & Co is going to eat their lunch. It is the next big thing in communication (social or not).
But what I as an entrepreneur really like about WhatsApp is their business model. You have to pay for it. $0.99 a year (but then its free). And it is not a growth stopper. People pay for what they love. Strange isn’t it? And I love that they stay away from the Ad driven model:
Or like the founders them selves say:
Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.
I recorded Get up, get up! in 1990 in Rub-A-Dub Studios in Stockholm, Sweden under the artist name Malach-I. I sang, played guitar, percussions and arranged the music. That was a long time ago. Hope you like it. I co-produced it with my good friend, the late Tom “Internal Dread” Hofwander. Drums: Peter Martin. Base: Babatunde Tony Ellis. Lead guitar: Margaret Björklund (now a very talented steel guitarist & singer) Horns: Don’t remember but Internal Dread set it up. The picture above is taken up in the mountains outside Montego Bay. And yes. I did have dreads then.. I recorded two other songs as well that you can find here (will set them up on Soundcloud at some point). .
My friend Om Malik just nailed what I have been thinking for a long time but not been able to put in words.
Building things that are different, inventing the future and creating a real business is a long and often very lonely slog. But you don’t hear about that. Instead what you get is a lot of babble about startups from so-called mentors, advisors and startup gurus. Peel away their sharkskin and you find they have never started a company, and they continue to live in the reflective glory of the company that once employed them. Others are the creation of social media, having struck a pose. And some are born consultants. They find willing listeners among a growing army of entrepreneurs who like entrepreneurship as a lifestyle. Sorry guys, entrepreneurship isn’t a lifestyle, it is life.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. .
When I first joined Facebook in the Fall of 2007, as responsible for international business development, I was also tasked with leading mobile business. What I didnt know at that time, was that mobile did not really have any specific home at Facebook, neither was it a priority. Rather, we had half an engineer working (sometimes dragged in more when needed) on the development side and a PM/BD guy trying to figure it all out. That was all.
As a European with a mobile background (Ericsson Mobile Communications later SonyEricsson) I though that was really strange. When I tried to push for more resources for mobile, I was told (more than once) not to bring it up with Zuck (as he thought, according to them, that Facebook was just a Website and had little to do with mobile. According to them he thought facebook would be misrepresented on mobile devices and a distraction. This attitude was not uniqe for facebook at the time though. Europe and Asia was way ahead of the US on the mobile side and most US based companies had mobile solutions but they were more as add ons/support to their current web services but never a priority.
Until the birth of the iPhone. Then everything chaged. Why do I bring this up now? Because I think this explains a lot of why facebook was so slow to adapt mobile and make mobile a priority fast enough. It simply wasnt Facebooks DNA from the outset. To change a company’s DNA overnight is not an easy task. However, I am pretty sure that the company will be doing really well on the mobile side. After all, what will be left if one does not focus on mobile?
Just like everyone else I never though it would happen to me. But it did. Last Friday, I discovered that somebody had hacked my Twitter account (@Net) and changed my image to the flag of The Arab Emirates and added the name “Rashid”. I almost fell off my chair. I quickly proceeded to check my Google account. Shit. Somebody had changed my password. My pulse started to beat faster, but since I had recently changed my security settings to Google’s “2 step verification process” I felt a certain calm that was soon going to be proven false. I’m going to fix this fast, I thought. However, when I went through the process, I found out that somebody had changed my backup mobile number as well! My heart skipped a beat. I quickly proceeded to use the back up security codes I had saved as the final solution to unlock my account should everything else fail but to no avail. Somebody had invalidated the security codes as well. WTF, I though in more than three letters. This is serious. All I could do was to file a ticket and wait. According to Google it was going to take 3-5 days for a potential resolve. That was more than I could wait. I had reached the boiling point. How could this have happened? All kinds of crazy ideas was flowing through my mind. What kind of damage could these bastards have caused me? Fast as the speed of light I changed passwords and usernames at the most important sites I was using hoping that no damage had been caused.
I then started to alert my network via Facebook and Linkedin to escalate to the highest level hoping for a fast resolve. A lot of good friends, former facebook collegues and other helpful souls quickly chimed in and helped to move things forward. 24 hours later I got a message from Google that my account had been DELETED. What? Are you kidding me? By whom? and Why? How is that even possible? I was freaking out. In disbelief I directed the browser to my facebook profile. No way. I was logged out. I tried to login again but the password had been changed!
Without any hesitation I quickly went through the facebooks recover system. In less than 10 minutes I had my account back. Phew! At least one of these companies had their shit together.
After another endless 24 hours friendly people at Google gave me heads up that I they had filed internal reports and that they were soon going to reach out to me. They did. I got an email with instruction on how to restore my ownership of the acccount. I filled out the form and in minutes my account was back! Jippie! My excitement and relief quickly turned into disbelief. My inbox was empty. Say what? I had zero emails in my account (yes I know that is a wet dream for many of you) Can somebody please wake me up? By now I had been posting frequent updates on facebook about the whole situation. A friend and Googler send me a link to request restoration of my email. It was apparently a separate process. I quickly did, and shortly after I started to see my inbox being re-populated again. Phew!
Very stressful my friends. Even for a cool cat like me.
And finally, just now, I’m back on Twitter! (minus all the people I used to follow). Starting out with a blank slate.
So after all this, what have I learned?
- Never use the same passwords accross several sites.
- You cannot rely on Google’s 2 step verification to protect your account. It gives you a false sense of security.
- Don’t use Gmail (or any other cloud hosted mails) for all your communication and don’t integrate your other email accounts into Gmail in particular.
- For very sensitve information, use your own email domain.
- Don’t store important docs in the cloud.
- Don’t click on links in emails if you don’t know the sender.
- Be very careful of installing 3-rd party applications in Gmail, Twitter and Facebook. Don’t assume you can trust them. You can’t.
- Have good friends in high places. It helps.
- Facebook wins hands down in account recover process and speed. No need to pull any strings.
- Google’s process is too slow and not “frustrated-user-friendly”. I got by with a little help from my friends.
- Don’t save your back up security files other cloudservices.
- Twitter leaves a lot to ask for. Thankfully, I have former Facebook collegues at Twitter that have been very helpful. Unfortunatley, the process is still too complicated and cumbersome. Twitter – you need to up your game.
- Use a private VPN client like Witopia for added protection
- Frequently run malware softwares like ClamXav on your computer (I’m a Mac) with
- This can happen to you anytime, even if you think that you are on top of security.
- Did I miss anything?
Finally, I want to thanks all my helpful ex-facebook collegues, friends and connections in high places. I don’t think this would have been resolved so quickly if it wasn’t for you. It makes me think about how frustrating this must be for good folks that are not lucky enough to have these type of connections. I do hope that Google and Twitter improve their account recover proceedures as this is so frustrating and the consequenses can be devastating.
Special thanks to all you great people that helped me out at Twitter and Google. I don’t want to expose your names here. You know who you are. Its good to have friends. Ex-facebook mob rocks!
Update: I ran ClamXav and found the following on my Mac yesterday: Trojan.Chepvil-3, 3 instances of Email.Trojan-256 and a few instances of “Heuristics.Phising.Email.SpoofedDomain …Looks like the closest source I can see to the hack.
I posted a question on Quora and those who are interested in learning how this could have happened, please follow the link. I am not going to write more about this.
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