Sunday, 25 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 8 News Updates - including “3 Ways to Find Top Talent for Your Startup”

Mashable: Latest 8 News Updates - including “3 Ways to Find Top Talent for Your Startup”

3 Ways to Find Top Talent for Your Startup

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 02:46 PM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

While the latest unemployment numbers are unnerving, there are still many companies struggling to find the right employees for their organizations — especially when it comes to startups.

While there's no such thing as a typical startup — which is why the startup environment is an adventure — one thing is certain: The traditional route of placing an employment ad, accepting resumes, conducting interviews and making an offer isn't the norm. As evidence, here are the success stories of several startups and how they found the top talent they were looking for.

1. Attend Networking Events

Aaron Harris, co-founder and CEO of Tutorspree, a marketplace for local tutors, discovered that going to specific technical meetups and hangouts can bring success in finding top talent. "That's not to say we didn't try a lot of other things that failed rather badly. Most of the general purpose tech gatherings are pretty crummy, filled with people looking for engineers or who are just generally curious about startups."

Harris says, "The upshot of our experience is we found Paul deGrandis who is, without a doubt, a superstar. He's an incredible engineer — among other things, he's a contributor to PyPy, which Quora just adopted — and a great guy."

When you're at a networking event and meet that perfect candidate, remember to have your pitch ready. Harris explains:

"We realized that developing a profile of the person we wanted and building the right pitch to excite them was critical. You're always competing against the bigger tech companies for the best engineers. They have deeper pockets and some unbelievable technology. Startups have to sell the dream of what they're building and the ownership that goes along with it. When you figure out the right way to sell that, then you're ready to close the candidates when you find them. At every stage, you need to convince the candidate as much as they need to convince you."

And if you can't find an event to attend, don't be afraid to create your own. That's what I Love Rewards, an SaaS-based employee recognition solution, is doing to fill positions for their San Francisco office. Razor Suleman, founder and CEO, says the company was hosting bi-weekly cocktail parties and happy hours at the swanky W Hotel in downtown San Francisco so job seekers could meet with current employees and executives and get a feel for company culture and expectations.

Suleman cited the nerve-racking interview-like scenarios as the reason for the event. "With recruiting happy hours, we alleviate the pressure for the talent and provide them with a fun and positive experience. Candidates can network and mingle in a great atmosphere and that way, if their takeaway isn’t a career opportunity at I Love Rewards, they still have a positive experience with the company and opportunity to network with other people."

But all this fun doesn't come without a downside — time. Suleman explains, "I Love Rewards’ recruiting and interview process is extremely diligent to ensure that we can find true A-players who will drive our business success and contribute to our unique company culture. Because of this, our interview process is longer than most organizations, taking nearly double the time to hire one person as it does for most other organizations. Although we have a rigorous process, it’s a price we are happy to pay to find the right person; after all one A-player is more effective than five B-players."

2. Work Your Personal Network

Profitably CEO and founder Adam Neary says all of their recruiting comes from doing it the hard way — networking like crazy. "We've had zero luck with websites, zero luck with networking events and zero luck with social media."

Neary tells the story of when Profitably, a New York based startup that helps small businesses free themselves of Excel when it comes to planning, managing and executing their business, was looking for an engineer. "When I was getting started, every other entrepreneur I knew was spending every conversation talking about their idea. I felt and still feel like ideas are cheap, and so I asked every engineer I knew who was the smartest engineer they knew. Half of the people said without hesitating, 'I am.' Interpret that as you will. But the other half said, 'Francis Hwang.' And those who said 'I am,' named Francis second. It was statistically improbable how many people held Francis in that regard. So, tactically, I had six different engineers introduce me to him, and he took the meeting. I courted him for three months before he quit his job. Now's he's our CTO and he rocks."

That personal networking philosophy extends beyond the recruitment process. Neary explains, "We make it really tough to get into Profitably, but once you’re in, you’re family. We pay 100% of employees’ health insurance. We let them buy whatever hardware they like. But the 'family' component comes from working well together, not just being smart. By tapping people’s networks, we have much earlier and much more qualified sense of what that looks like, and by making sure everyone in the team is involved with every hire, we continue to cement our culture as we grow."

While often times startups have to work their connections to find talent, sometimes the talent is right in front of them. Such was the case at, an online marketplace for local services like home contractors, wedding photographers, SAT tutors, etc. Sander Daniels, co-founder of tells the story of how he found his lead engineer. "Two years ago, one of our CEO's friends introduced us to an engineer from a big tech company. We didn't think much of it — he was happy with his job, and we weren't looking to hire anyone at the time.

However, he started coming to our offices on Friday nights to hang out with the team. We provided the drinks and the fun conversation. He saw over time how we talked about our company — how excited we were about our progress, how rapidly we improved our product, how big our dreams were. Although neither of us intended it, he soon caught the startup bug. Skip ahead two years to today — he's now our lead engineer. And he also recruited his roommate — another big tech firm engineer — to our team."

It's tough to persuade superstar talent to leave their safe jobs at big tech companies for the big risk of a startup. "We've found this can only be done in a social setting — the more they hang out with your team, the more they see your excitement,” Daniels says. “Soon they'll catch the bug too."

When it comes to personal networks, Adrian Salamunovic, co-founder of DNA11, the original creator of DNA Art, believes the key is staying connected with remarkable people even when you don't have an opening. That's how he found their public relations manager. "We met at a 40 Under 40 awards gala over a year ago. I knew she was a superstar, and we stayed in touch via emails, Twitter and Facebook. I eventually convinced her to come in for an interview, and she joined the company a few months ago."

3. Make Your Company a Great Target

Finding talent doesn't always have to be about companies making the first move. Creating an environment that entices candidates to come work for you is a very sound strategy (and great perks help). Jason Henrichs, chief operating officer of PerkStreet Financial, a firm changing the banking business by giving customers rewards and tools for spending responsibility, says superstars find them versus the other way around. "Our head of community development was a customer first and then sent us a passionate letter about why she wanted to work at PerkStreet. Those who weren’t customers have come to us through our network that evangelizes the PerkStreet mission to fix banking for the average American — over half our team was recruited this way."

Henrichs attributes this to creating a culture with a high emphasis on value, not just doing things. "Recruiting based on a specific job description puts the emphasis on the task an individual will perform, versus our approach which requires a joint prioritization about where this new team member can drive the biggest return. The stars on our team have helped define the roles they fill."

Another way to effectively bring talent to your doorstep is with an employee referral program. Ryan Howard, chief executive officer at Practice Fusion, a fast-growing electronic medical records community in the U.S., says their "intellectual athletes" (a.k.a. employees) are well-versed in the company's core values, which include "be scrappy," "give to your community" and "exhibit integrity with no compromise." To thank employees for candidate referrals, Practice Fusion offers monetary rewards ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, depending upon the position.

Practice Fusion is adding more than 10 employees a month. Even with their rapid growth, it places a tremendous emphasis on finding talent that is a great cultural fit and who will continue to grow with the company. Howard has a goal for zero attrition, ensuring that each person at Practice Fusion has a career path, a voice and a true passion for the company.

In addition to their career path, employees at Practice Fusion participate in an internal mentorship program connecting executives with younger colleagues to shape future career growth. A monthly “Phenomenal Friday” event is dedicated to independent projects, presentations and shared meals. Their kitchen is stocked with healthy food and the latest newspapers. Lunch and dinner are catered. Employees have health stock option plans. Dogs are welcome at the office, and cubicles are banned. According to Howard, "All of these pieces not only help find talent but keep it."

No matter what kind of startup you are, the rules to finding talent come down to one thing — who you know. It's about getting out and meeting people, staying connected and spreading the word about what a terrific organization you are. In fact, as your organization grows, you'll find this really doesn't change. It's all about meeting top talent, finding a couple of chairs and saying "Let's talk."

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, P_Wei, Burton

More About: features, mashable, Recruiting, Startups

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Google Improves iOS App for Google+

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 01:40 PM PDT

Google is on a roll, not sitting idly by while Facebook has its moment in the media spotlight. After opening its Google+ social network to the public — gaining an additional 10 million users in its first two days — now the search giant follows Tuesday’s Android update of Google+ with a similar refresh to its iOS version, now available free on the App Store [iTunes link].

What’s new? Like its Android cousin, the iOS version of the Google+ mobile app now supports Hangouts, letting groups communicate with each other using front-facing cameras on the iPhone 4 and iPod touch. In addition to Hangouts, the app offers better control of its various notifications, and a renamed Messenger (formerly Huddle) that now lets users attach photos to chat threads.

Other niceties include the ability to +1 in comments, improved +mention support, a map view in Profile for places you’ve lived, and various reliability improvements. Macstories‘ Federico Viticci had a chance to try out the new features in Hangouts — take a look at his experience here.

[via Macstories]

More About: Google, iOS apps, iphone 4

What Does It Take To Be a Social Strategist? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 12:44 PM PDT

Looking to break into a social media career? Here’s pretty much everything you need to know about the job and the people who do it every day. Nearly 80% of corporations use social media, so there’s plenty of opportunity for aspiring strategists — especially as the other 20% get on board.

Step 1: Get a Twitter account — 100% of social media managers represented in the survey have one, and you have to know the lay of the land if you’re going to innovate and build a brand on said land.

Step 2: Be ready to wear many hats. When it comes to social media, there’s a lot to tackle, including crafting actual posts, analyzing metrics, training and managing a team, spearheading campaigns, working with agencies and managing a budget.

Want to know if you’re cut out for it? In the infographic below, you’ll see the personality traits, education, career paths and responsibilities of today’s successful social media strategists. Statistics were pulled from LinkedIn data, as well as job listings for positions in the field.

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we post a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we publish a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!

Infographic courtesy of Voltier Creative

More About: features, infographic, job search series, Social Media

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Why Colleges Need to Better Prepare IT Grads [OPINION]

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 11:44 AM PDT

This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Aaron Stibel serves as senior vice president of technology of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the leading provider of credit building and credibility solutions for businesses. He holds a BS in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.

There are a few ubiquitous projects that most computer science students remember: Hello world, the Fibonacci recursion sequence and the reverse Polish notation calculator, for example.

No project is more annoying to me than the dreaded MS Access database project. In my day, the project came in the form of a CD catalog. Now it is more likely to be an MP3 catalog or sometimes a college course catalog. Whatever the form, this project is typically a disappointing response to the job interview question, "Do you have any database experience?"

Technology moves quickly. I tell new college graduates to enjoy that feeling of knowing a technology that eludes your supervisor — because it won't last. When a new crew of graduates comes along in a couple of years, they'll be showing off languages that make AJAX and Ruby seem like COBOL and Pascal.

Our dependency on databases and data warehousing has exploded, mainly because storage has become a relatively negligible line item on IT budgets. Instead, software is the storage, retrieval, transformation and visualization of data. C-Level executives who don't know Java Beans from coffee beans are now talking OLAP Cubes.

So with databases being part of technology and high-value businesses, colleges must start including databases all over the curriculum.

Of the top five highest-rated computer science programs — Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Cornell — none include a database course as part of the 2011 undergraduate degree requirement. Worse, the top four schools only offer a single database course as an undergraduate engineering elective. Graduate-level programs offer few additional options.

It never fails to amaze me how little database experience college graduates have. Most have no SQL experience, and I haven't interviewed a single candidate who can design an ERD, properly tune a query or write complex SQL. This lack of qualifications is a major hindrance in today's data-dependent world. Yet it doesn't need to be. A single mandatory class would suffice.

My wish list of database requirements for a college graduate would be selfishly long. At the very least, however, graduates should be experts at SQL and have exposure to PL/SQL or T-SQL. A SQL tuning class that covers indexing and proper design would be great as well. Students should know what an ERD is, and how to design data architectures as well as they tackle data structures. Ask a software engineer what he uses more: a Red-Black Tree or a Table (the answer is obvious).

It has been 40 years since SQL was invented. It's time to add database courses to the mandatory curriculum. It's time to banish the dreaded MS Access project. It's time to add data to the core theory, applications, and systems concentrations.

Image courtesy of Flickr, lu_lu

More About: college, education, it, software

Facebook Changes Getting Out of Hand [COMIC]

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 11:00 AM PDT

Sometimes change is a great thing, and other times it seems like a lot of extra hoops to jump through with meager benefits.

Here’s a comic from Mashable’s own editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff, accurately expressing the way many Facebook users are feeling this week.

Just wait until they’re hit with the biggest changes, due on a Facebook account near you on Sept. 29 (or you can make the new Timeline appear right now if you’re slightly adventurous).

More About: comic, Facebook, Lance Ulanoff

3 Fun Apps That Amplify and Filter Your Social Connections

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 10:29 AM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Each weekend, Mashable picks startups we think are building interesting, unique or niche products.

Here we highlight three social applications that put the power of your digital relationships to work.

Cliq thrives on social data analysis and works like a social network-filtered search engine for bars and restaurants. Shareagift makes it super simple to pool together your connections for group gift buying, and Subjot drowns out social updates you don’t care about with a tool for following just the subjects you like from the people you know.

Cliq: Venue Data Sourced From Your Social Graph

Quick Pitch: Cliq searches your social networks and other shared data sources to discover how you are connected to any business, product, place or thing.

Genius Idea: Showing degrees of separation from bars and restaurants.

Mashable’s Take: Chances are someone in your extended social graph has visited the bar or restaurant you’re curious about. Cliq connects the dots between you, your friends and venues to take out the guesswork and make your decision-making process easier with more trusted information from people you know.

Cliq connects to your Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter accounts to return a mini social-data rundown on a bar or restaurant — the site will add support for businesses and products in the future. You can get an instant glimpse at the friends, or friends of friends, who have been to a particular spot, see an overview on the venue’s social stats and read up on the buzz from Foursquare.

Philadelphia-based Cliq is still very much an alpha product — you should expect a few kinks. We found finding some restaurants and bars via the search bar a puzzling experience at times.

Shareagift: Buy Gifts in Groups

Quick Pitch: Shareagift helps groups pool funds to buy gifts friends actually want.

Genius Idea: Gift Pages that allow friends to collect funds and split the cost of any gift.

Mashable’s Take: Shareagift makes group gifting an easy-to-manage process with Gift Pages.

Set up a Gift Page and specify a gift’s recipient and the occasion, then enter your gift of choice or use the site’s gift-finding tool to find the right present. Add more details such as number of contributors and the date funds need to be raised by, and invite your social connections, friends or family members to chip in.

The end result is a communal, shareable and personalized Gift Page for tracking contributions. Contributors can add to the pool via a credit, debit or PayPal payment, and funds raised through the Gift Page are deposited to your PayPal account.

London-based Shareagfit launched on September 15 out of Absolute Technology Portfolio, a venture capital incubator. The startup competes with a number of social gifting services including eBay’s Group Gifts product.

Subjot: Subject-Driven Social Network

Quick Pitch: Subjot is a topical conversation platform.

Genius Idea: Follow the subjects you like from people you care about.

Mashable’s Take: Your social network pals have a variety of opinions and interests. You’re bound to have a few common interests — a favorite sports team or similar tastes in movies, for instance — but different takes on other things. Subjot is a cross between a microblog and a forum that aims make it easy for you to share and discuss just the subjects you care about most.

Use Subjot to post a 250-character jot on any subject. You can follow friends’ jots in your favorite subject areas or dive into subjects to chat it up with other site users who are passionate about the same things.

Subjot strikes us as a fun conversation hub for chatty Cathys and super-opinionated types with specialized interests. Its greatest quality is that it looks nothing like the average forum site, which makes it approachable to anyone. Plus, it ties in to your Facebook and Twitter social graphs to make following friends, and their subjects, all the more seamless.

Subjot was founded by Chris and Becky Carella, a husband-and-wife team based in New York.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, andrearoad

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, spark-of-genius, Startups

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61 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 09:22 AM PDT

The Facebook redesign news kicked this week’s features roundup into full-throttle. For instance, press “command F” and search “Facebook”. Go ahead, try it. The word comes up 31 times on this page alone.

Therefore, the theme of this week’s roundup is: We-Pretty-Much-Covered-Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-the-Facebook-Redesign. In other news, we reviewed the Google Wallet and analyzed Netflix’s recent business maneuvers. Regardless, this week might very well set a record — are you ready to get crackin’ on Mashable‘s 62 feature stories from the past week? We thought so.

Editorial Picks

Satellite Falls: Three Unconfirmed Videos [UPDATED]

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 08:11 AM PDT

NASA reports that its Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) has crashed to earth in a fiery reentry sometime between 11:23 P.M. EDT on Friday and 1:09 A.M. EDT on Saturday, but still doesn’t know where it landed. Meanwhile, here’s a video taken of an unconfirmed sighting of the satellite’s pieces, said to be spotted over Okotoks, Alberta, Canada. Update:This video is fake, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, responding in a Twitter post: “Okotoks video of #UARS is fake, reposted from user Fragmentus08 shot day before in Oklahoma City (of what?). Experts saw nil”

Here’s a second video, said to be shot from a backyard in Blaine, Washington and claiming to be the satellite, but this one looks to us and to many others like a Chinese lantern. However, the voices on the video are certainly convinced they’re witnessing a fiery reentry.

So far, NASA knows the 6.5-ton behemoth was “passing over Canada and Africa as well as vast portions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans,” when it plunged to earth, but can’t be certain about “the precise reentry time and location.”

NASA and the U.S. Air Force’s Joint Space Operations Center said the satellite first began reentering the Earth’s atmosphere somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, but that’s not necessarily where it ended up, according to the Associated Press.

Although NASA says the bus-sized UARS spacecraft was mostly burned up on its way to Earth, there’s been no definitive reports of sightings of any of the 26 pieces NASA predicted would result from a collision with the earth’s atmosphere.

Will this happen again? With older spacecraft such as the UARS which was released into orbit by the U.S. space shuttle in 1991, yes, but now NASA is able to control the reentry of more modern satellites, according to Reuters.

Given that most of our blue planet is covered with oceans, that’s probably where most of it fell. Even though the satellite hit the earth roughly 9 hours before we wrote this post, we don’t know where that satellite landed. That’s not stopping the Twitterverse from chattering about the satellite, where there are a few dubious claims of sightings, but mostly humorous comments about the satellite’s location and intentions.

Where do you think the satellite landed? Has anybody seen it?

Update: Here’s another unconfirmed amateur video from Italy:

More About: satellite, UARS, Video

Design Inspiration: 7 Galleries of Excellent Ecommerce Sites

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 07:05 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Have you ever contemplated the expansion of your small business through the launch of an online store?

The first phases of any new venture, big or small, is to generate initial ideas and scope out what’s already out there.

Having a good vision of your soon-to-be e-store at hand will help you communicate better with your designer. Knowing what’s possible will also allow you to determine your desired outcomes.

When it comes to website design, one of the best and easiest ways to get ideas and inspiration is simply to browse through web design galleries, which are sites that aggregate and present beautiful websites.

Below, you will find seven web design galleries that feature excellent, high-quality e-commerce website designs. At the end, you will also discover a brief list of articles and papers about e-commerce design that you should read to equip yourself with some fundamental knowledge, should you choose to pursue the creation of your very own online store.

1. ecommr

This website catalogs excellent ecommerce user interface designs. If you would like to see various ecommerce interface components, such as designs of product pages and add-to-cart buttons, check out this top-notch gallery. There's an index for website properties such as "banners" and "navigation" so you can quickly find inspiration for specific sections of your site.

2. CartFrenzy

CartFrenzy is a website gallery that only features first-class ecommerce web designs. To help visitors navigate and browse through the site, web designs are conveniently categorized into industries like Fashion/Clothing, Office Supplies and Travel. The site is maintained by top web design blogger Steven Snell of Vandelay Design Blog.

3. Cart Craze

Cart Craze, a web design gallery that's been in existence for less than a year, is steadily building a big collection of beautiful ecommerce web designs. They regularly update their collection, posting 14 to 23 new designs a month. Look at the site's top rated ecommerce sites, a gallery view of websites that have garnered the most user votes.

4. eCommerce Gallery

This site, which has been up since 2008 (a millennium in Internet time), presents top-quality ecommerce web designs to help get your creative juices flowing. The website is managed and owned by James Paden, an ecommerce specialist with more than ten years of web design and development experience.

5. Shop websites (siteInspire)

SiteInspire, a web design gallery site, has a special section that features only beautiful and high-quality online stores. The site is operated by Kulor, a small web design and development consultancy firm located in London.

On the right sidebar, you can select a category (greyscale, organic, etc.), type (corporate site, promotional, etc.), or theme (architecture, education, etc.) to locate ecommerce examples that will be most relevant to you.

6. eCommerce Collection (Pattern Tap)

Pattern Tap, an interface design gallery website, has a collection featuring ecommerce-related designs contributed by the site's users. Inspirational items in the collection include specific ecommerce interface components, such as site navigation and buttons to full screenshots of excellently designed product pages.

7. E-Commerce CSS Gallery (StyleTheWeb)

This section on CSS web design gallery site StyleTheWeb has a few wonderful ecommerce web designs. Online ecommerce websites that have made it into this design gallery range from web hosting services to email marketing web apps.

Here are five articles and papers related to ecommerce design that could help you design and build an excellent ecommerce site:

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- 15 Keyboard Shortcuts To Enhance Your PC Productivity
- 5 Services For Building Websites On A Budget
- 10 Accessories To Boost Office Morale
- Top 5 Foursquare Mistakes Committed By Small Businesses
- How To Use Social Media For Recruiting

More About: ecommerce, Small Business Resources, web design

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