Why your online business should offer a no-hassle money-back guarantee and avoid chargebacks

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, COO, Foundation, free business advice, Getting Started, Marketing

I work with lots of startup companies that sell goods or services to consumers online. Every company believes they are providing a great product but, the fact is, not every customer will be satisfied. So, the question becomes, if and when should a customer get their money back? I believe the correct answer is, when they ask for it. Here’s why…

If you’re selling a physical product that can be returned in “as new” condition, I think it’s pretty clear the customer should get their money back when the merchandise is returned. However, should the shipping be free in both directions? Should your company charge a restocking fee? Should only a partial refund be given if the merchandise is difficult to resell as new? What if your physical product is consumed or perishable? You don’t want the product back or it simply may be impossible to get it back. Should the consumer be out their money if they are not happy? I say no. Give them a full refund and eat the return shipping cost if you want the product returned.

 
Money-back guarantee logo
 
If your company is selling information or e-products you may be thinking, “I can’t un-ring a bell”. The consumer has received the information or could easily make an e-copy that may be of continued benefit to a customer even if they claim they are not satisfied. If the customer claims to be unhappy, is it reasonable to charge the customer a full or even a partial fee? I say no, if a customer wants their money back, I think it’s best to make a full refund upon request.

Read more…

Using improvisation and comedy to unleash your company’s message and branding

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Advertising, business advice, free business advice, Hiring Consultants, Hiring Contractors, Marketing, Priorities

When Hewlett-Packard was about to launch their Windows 10 line of notebook and desktop computers they were scared. Not because they were worried about competition or the quality of their devices but, because of the horrible reaction to their prior line of computers due to Microsoft’s shockingly bad Windows 8 software. In order to create the right marketing message for their new line of computers they knew they needed serious help. This was no laughing matter. So, who did they turn to? A bunch of comedians.

HP turned to a San Francisco based creative agency called Funworks. Funworks brought in a team of comedians skilled at improvisation techniques to hold a “fun workshop” with HP’s top product managers. Founded by Paul Charney, a veteran creative agency executive and founder of the San Francisco comedy troupe Killing Lobsters, Paul and his team help companies express their issues and discover their most compelling messaging points by fostering an environment of open conversation based on improvisation techniques where ideas flow freely when everyone simply says “yes” and “and”.

In this episode of Bay Area Ventures I speak with Paul Charney and Funwork’s Creative Architect, Erica Fortescue about his company and their award winning commercials.


Funworks” data-recalc-dims=
Paul Charney” data-recalc-dims=  Erica Fortescue” data-recalc-dims=

 
We discuss the psychology of what makes a company and its products memorable and why humor is sometimes the best medicine, even when trying to convey a serious message. We learn what a fun workshop is and what takes place at one.

Paul talks about why he started Funworks and how it is different from other creative ad agencies. He talks about the challenges of moving from a practicing creative person and comedian to being the CEO of a team of other practitioners. What are the trade off and what are the rewards for being a leader.

Erica shares her knowledge on the neuropsychology of messaging and how humor can be used to convey a serious message while maintaining the prestige and authority of the company being represented in the creative message.

Of course we also hear Paul and Erica share their view on the Bay Area Way of business. In their practice they have dealt with startup to Fortune 50 enterprises in the Bay Area and across the US. In the Bay Area, in particular, they talk about how companies staffed by 20 to 30 “something” employees are sometimes more difficult to help because they just don’t understand their true identity as an organization. Often in these cases they are called in by the company’s Board of Directors to help figure it out and craft the right message and persona for the firm.

So, how did HP conquer their fear of whether or not Windows 10 would scuttle their latest offerings? By creating Circle of Trust. See it here: Funwork’s Windows 10 Launch Commercial for H-P

This episode was recorded on May 22, 2017 on Bay Area Ventures on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Your startup, before and after being featured on Shark Tank with Sara Magulis CEO of Honeyfund

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Business, business advice, free business advice, Uncategorized

Sara Margulis, Co-Founder and CEO of Honeyfund and Plumfund joins me on Bay Area Ventures to talk about entrepreneurship and her venture’s fortunes before and after appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank. Honeyfund began when Sara and her fiancé Josh (now husband) were looking for a way to allow wedding guests to fund their honeymoon instead of purchasing gifts that they wouldn’t be able to store in their small San Francisco apartment. Josh created Honeyfund as an online registry where their friends and family could choose various aspects of their honeymoon to fund as a gift (i.e. airfare, hotel room nights, excursions, dinners, etc.).

Sara margulis

 
Honeyfund data-recalc-dims=
Plumfund data-recalc-dims=

 

Fast forward ten years later and Honeyfund is a thriving site that has helped millions of users. In addition to funding honeymoons, customers began using the Honeyfund to fund other needs and charities. Sara and Josh launched Plumfund to fulfill all of these other things that users love. Both sites were doing well and then Sara and Josh decided to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank. They wound up receiving offers from three sharks and Mr. Wonderful himself, Kevin O’Leary ended up lending the company $400,000. Click here to watch Honeyfund on YouTube

Honeyfund is located in Sebastopol, a beautiful part of the north Bay Area known more for vineyards and dairies but, more and more also becoming a home to many tech companies.

Sara discusses her transition from being a Marketing Director at a San Francisco University to becoming tech entrepreneur. She walks us through some of the challenges she’s faced along the way and how life and business changed after their Shark Tank experience. Other than the parts which fall under a non-disclosure agreement we do talk about the Shark Tank process. And finally, we get to hear Sara’s take on the Bay Area way of business.

It’s a fun interview with lots of great takeaways for your business, wherever you may be.

Recorded on March 27, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. Bay Area Ventures airs live on Mondays at 4:00pm Pacific Time, 7:00pm Eastern Time.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Tim Chen wanted to help his sister find a credit card, today he runs Nerdwallet

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, Finance, Financial Services, free business advice, Marketing

Tim Chen, Co-Founder and President of Nerdwallet joins me on my latest episode of Bay Area Ventures to talk about his journey from Wall Street investment banker to advocate for consumer credit choice and information.

Nerdwallet is a site where one can find the best credit card, bank account, travel rewards plan, mortgage, insurance or other financial needs tailored to their specific needs, goals or tastes. The site walks users through some qualifying questions then draws on thousands of providers in every state for the best solution.

Nerdwallet Logo Tim Chen, CEO of Nerdwallet

 

Nerdwallet was founded in 2009, in Tim’s apartment in New York City, when his sister asked for help finding the “best” credit card for her needs. Nerdwallet moved to San Francisco when Tim’s co-founder came to San Francisco and hired an intern that was 10x more productive than the intern Tim hired in NYC. In this interview Tim expands on that discovery and talks about why the ecosystem and entrepreneurial hires found in the Bay Area are ideal for a growing startup.

Through his work at Nerdwallet, helping millions of consumers, Tim has become Member of the Consumer Advisory Board for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency created after the 2008 financial crises to protect consumers. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the National Federation for Credit Counseling. He talks about high credit rates that consumers face and why it’s difficult to make changes.

Tim, is a highly intelligent young entrepreneur who is dedicated to building an open and motivated workforce. Learn about how he and his team communicate to get work done and allow the company to scale rapidly. This is a great interview packed with lots of practical takeaways for your business.

Recorded on February 13, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Jonathan Swanson on how to build a generational company

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, free business advice, Getting Started, Hiring Contractors, Setting Goals
Jonathan Swanson
Jonathan Swanson, Co-Founder and President of Thumbtack joins me on my latest episode of Bay Area Ventures to talk about his journey from White House economic aide to building a high-growth fast-pace “generational” technology startup.

Thumbtack provides a marketplace for local services allowing one to find providers for just about anything from builders to caterers to tutors to … you name it. Their approach is different from sites which force you to do all the research for choosing the best provider. Thumbtack walks you through a couple questions and then does the research for you, finding you the best match for your project.

 

Founded in 2009, Thumbtack is now a so-called “unicorn”, a privately held company valued at over $1 billion. Jonathan’s goal for Thumbtack is to be the Amazon of the gig-economy by creating the ultimate marketplace for getting things done. More than building just a huge company though, Jonathan is out to improve the lives of millions of people around the world by helping them become independent and successful entrepreneurs in a world where no one can count on an employer or job to support them for life.

With over a million active customers and hundreds of thousands of providers, Jonathan is doing just that. Thumbtack helps independent providers promote their skills and match them with good customers. In doing so, these independent providers increase their confidence and change their lives for the better. In this episode you’ll hear Jonathan provide some solid examples of people who have achieved great personal success on the platform. Thumbtack is so successful it is out performing Yelp and Angie’s List and could be the Yellow Pages for the twenty-first century and beyond.

Jonathan, is a bright and highly motivated entrepreneur. He is building an open organization where he welcomes debate and challenges to the status quo. The company publishes internal information like board meeting notes for all employees to see in order to encourage everyone in the organization to be aware of what’s happening and how they can make an impact.

Jonathan and his co-founders launched Thumbtack in Washington, DC during the height of the financial crisis in 2009. Today Thumbtack has over 1,000 employees in San Francisco, Salt Lake City and the Philippines. Jonathan moved Thumbtack to San Francisco to take advantage of the Bay Area’s ecosystem early-on and in this interview you’ll hear how he compares the Bay Area way of business to other areas.

There is a powerful interview with a brilliant young entrepreneur.

Recorded on February 13, 2017, on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School.

For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

Choosing an Accountant for your Startup

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in COO, Finance, free business advice

Stacey Dell, a partner with the accounting firm of Moss-Adams (formerly Mohler, Nixon Williams) of Campbell, CA, has been a tax accountant to startup ventures for two decades. In this interview Stacey talks about accounting issues for startups and high growth ventures. Find out about the different aspects of getting your startup company on the right financial and tax footing.

How to find happiness at work

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, Foundation, free business advice, Networking, Priorities

Srikumar Rao is a noted author, lecturer, professor and founder of The Rao Institute. He is the author of the course “Creativity and Personal Mastery”, the only MBA course in the world which has its own alumni association.

Professor Rao talks about his career and how it led him to a life-long mission to help others be more happy and successful in their careers.

This is an amazing interview with a truly amazing person.

Be sure to pick up Professor Rao’s books:


  

How to hire the best talent for your startup

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in free business advice, HR, Networking

Lisa Kolenda is head of executive search for Omidyar Network. Lisa discusses the ins and outs of recruiting, securing and retaining the best personnel for you startup company.

We talk about building a company culture, what sort of events work best for rewarding your team, and tools for managing the hiring process.

This is a highly informative show for any entrepreneur who is looking for great talent. Which means its a must listen for all entrepreneurs!

The Free COO radio show offers free advice for building and running a startup company. Listen in live on Thursdays at 4:00pm Pacific Time on Spreaker. Join in the live conversation via Spreaker’s chat function in the player.

The Founder’s Dilemmas explored

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Biotech startups, business advice, free business advice

Dr. Noam Wasserman, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School is the author of “The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup“. This is an amazing book that is simply a “must read” for any entrepreneur, anyone who will be working for an entrepreneur, their investors, vendors and customers.

Whether founding a company by yourself or with a team, and whether that team is comprised of friends and family, work colleagues or strangers, you’ll need to be aware of all of the forks in the road and dilemmas that you will face when starting a high-potential startup. Fortunately, this book really covers all the bases and, where Dr. Wasserman is uncertain of a particular dilemma or outcome, he is clear about that as well.

Founders Dilemmas is the result of over a decade of intensive research following the founders of over 10,000 startups in technology and bio-tech. If you are starting any company, you’d be crazy not to read this book. It will really open your eyes and could give you that edge you’ll need to be both king of your venture and rich.

Hear Noam discuss some of his key insights from his work. This is a rare chance to learn from one of the top business professors in the United States and you won’t even have to take a GMAT. Enjoy!


The Free COO airs Thursdays at 4:00pm on Spreaker

Hot Topic Media’s Gady Costeff on Entrepreneurship

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in free business advice

Gady Costeff is CEO of Hot Topic Media and an expert at online marketing. Starting in the Dot Com era, Gady has been at the forefront of building high volume web properties and high performing teams.

Learn abut Gady’s background and his favorite avocation being a chess composer.

Here is a link to some of Hot Topic Media’s websites:

www.doubleyourdating.com
www.catchhimandkeephim.com