Tag Archives: 3 Questions With

3 Questions With Katherine Yarbrough, Founder Of Chic and Beautiful

by Categorized: 3 Questions With, Connecticut, Startup, Startup Weekend Tagged: , , Date:

Back in March at Startup Weekend Stamford, Katherine Yarbrough won second place for her pitch — Chic and Beautiful.  (Read my April profile here).

The site, an online wellness community and clothing exchange, has come a long way in a short time.  If you’ve lost some weight and have clothes that no longer fit or need to add to your wardrobe, Chic and Beautiful is now live for buying and selling.

Here’s more on where Chic and Beautiful’s been and where it’s going:

What have you changed or improved upon since Startup Weekend? 
Since we last talked, I hired a part-time web designer (who is in Texas!) that created my current website!  It is up and running, complete with inventory to be purchased, space for more inventory, and blog topics like “Rack the brain of an RD” (you can ask questions to a Registered Dietitian – coming soon), “Tasty Thursdays”  (I share recipe ideas and weekly meal planning menus and tips), and some health-related 
blog topics.  I am trying to get into a rhythm — I’ve never really blogged before — but am looking to post blogs regularly Mondays and Thursdays of each week.  I also really want to know what people are curious about — what health and wellness questions they have — so I can write blog posts that people want to read.  
Other than a part time developer it’s still just me on the team.  During my “daytime job” I work with a team of Registered Dietitians and PhDs with a background in nutritional science so that’s how I can pick their brain for accurate health and wellness information.  
What are you still looking to add, expand upon, or improve?

With such financial constraints (bootstrapping it now!) my growth plans are slower than I would like, but I am still hopeful.  I am designing an expansion to my website that will turn my website into a social platform for women to sell their own clothes and create their own wellness community.  I imagine the space being the “go to” place where women can gather to share their health and wellness goals, achievements, suggestions, tips, and ideas.  As they move through their weight change (or maintenance) and life changes they will also be able to sell their own clothes and earn more in return than at a consignment shop.  Chic and Beautiful, inherent in its name, is about women feeling beautiful inside and out throughout all the crazy moments in life.I am always in need of inventory. I am looking for women who have designer and brand name clothing they want to sell.  Right now, my sizes are limited (mostly smalls and mediums) so I want to add a greater variety of sizes, design styles, and brand names — and that can only come from sellers!

As demand increases, I also want to bring on more staff, with a focus on paid student internships in fashion, marketing, or web design.  I have had some outstanding mentors throughout my educational career (on campus jobs and internships) that were instrumental in developing me into the person I am, so I aspire to create a similar experience for other students.

What do you anticipate the next year or so will be like for you and Chic and Beautiful?
Within the next year, Chic and Beautiful will have the social component I envision, which will lead to growth.  During the year, I will also begin considering plans for expansion — a specific component for maternity and perhaps a brother site for men.

3 Questions With: Rick Richter, CEO Of Ruckus Media Group

by Categorized: 3 Questions With, Apps Tagged: , , Date:

Rick Richter, Ruckus Media Group CEO

The children’s reading app, Ruckus Reader, has been a hit on the iPad since its release in April.  If you browse the top iPad apps in the free books category on iTunes you’ll see an assortment of Ruckus titles — from “My Little Pony” to “Transformers.”

Here’s a bit more information about the Wilton-based company from the CEO, Rick Richter:

How did Ruckus Reader come to fruition?  What was the inspiration?

Mostly it was the arrival of the iPad and enormous engagement we saw with kids and the device.  It seemed like a great opportunity to marry the engagement kids evidenced with a terrific and enhanced reading experience.

You can also check out the YouTube video below where Richter discusses his own personal experiences that inspired him to start Ruckus.

What exciting things can we expect from Ruckus in the future?

Just about anything you can imagine a touch computer can do, we can imagine bringing to children to make reading more fun.  Think speech recognition.  Think fun but educational physics gaming (like Angry Birds).

You’ve already gone after (and done quite well with) tablets.  Are there any other technologies you’d like Ruckus to be involved with?

We would like to have a real presence in smart phones of all kinds, including Android phones and in foreign markets.

You can download any of their apps by searching for “Ruckus Media Group” in iTunes, which will provide you with all of their available titles.

3 Questions With: WWE’s Senior Vice President Of Digital Operations

by Categorized: 3 Questions With, Connecticut, Social Media Tagged: , , , , Date:

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which of course is located in Stamford, has created quite a presence for itself on social media.

Mashable declared WWE as the Must Follow Brand on Social Media and the Digital Company of the Year in the 2011 Mashable awards.  Their main Facebook page has just over 9 million fans as of this writing, and one of their biggest stars, John Cena, is the third most followed U.S. athlete on Facebook only behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

I recently had a chance to ask Jason Hoch, WWE’s SVP of Digital Operations, a few questions about their social strategy.  Here’s what he had to say:

What has social media meant to WWE as a business?  Are you seeing greater interest in the product because of it?

We love the passion and enthusiasm of our fans, and that excitement translates amazingly well with social media.  We are constantly surprised by how our fans react online to the action they experience at a live event or on TV.  With over 67 million total Facebook followers and 25 million Twitter followers across the WWE brand, that’s comparable to hundreds of sold-out stadium crowds screaming and cheering with us online.

 The digital experience is such a natural evolution for us, allowing a constant flow of information and entertainment with fans anytime, anywhere.  One of our WWE Superstars Zack Ryder has built a huge following on Twitter and YouTube and he recently did a live Twitter Question and Answer session while parked at an airport in Virginia at 8:30 in the morning.  Minutes later, ‘ILoveZackRyder’ was a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.  We simply could not have done that type of direct fan engagement even a few years ago and the fans love it.

What is your greatest success so far in the digital world?

We’re proud of the fact that WWE delivers the ultimate digital experience on the platform of our fans’ choosing, be it on WWE.com, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or any of the emerging platforms.  We recently wrapped our biggest WrestleMania event ever, and for the first time, the social experience was at the heart of a truly 360° experience for the fans.  The engagement numbers were through the roof (110 Twitter Trending Topics worldwide in five hours) and it has inspired a whole new level of creativity and buzz within WWE on how we can raise the bar with our fans digitally moving forward.

What are your next big social endeavors to look forward to?

There’s been much discussion in the industry about the death of the couch potato.  Instead of just passively watching TV, consumers  are now watching TV while engaging with their smart phones or tablets.  WWE will be launching some new second screen experiences designed to get fans that much more involved in the action, no matter where they are.

I’ll be at a WWE event next month to continue this conversation with Jason and to see some of their social strategies in action. 

3 Questions With: MeritBooster’s Rajesh & Keshav Patel, Father & Son Business Partners

by Categorized: 3 Questions With, Entrepreneur, Startup Tagged: , Date:

Keshav, 14, and Rajesh Patel

In March, I profiled the father and son team of Rajesh and Keshav Patel behind the startup company MeritBooster.  MeritBooster is a site that allows youths who want to accomplish or learn something start “projects” so that people can donate to the cause.  I caught up with them to see how things have progressed.

What progress has been made since March?  

Since we last spoke, we have surveyed over 200 youths, 25 teachers/youth groups leaders, and 50 parents regarding what they would need from MeritBooster.  We’ve also finished building our core functionality and we just went live with youth projects a couple of weeks ago.  We are learning exactly what tools we need to provide to help young people be successful using crowdfunding.  For example, one aspiring young woman we met, Alyssa, from New Haven, really wants to become a pilot.  She is passionate about aviation and is using MeritBooster to raise funds to pay for her flight training.  For every hour of flight time that gets funded, she will be doing two hours of community service, and she is letting her Boosters give input into where she will do the service.  In just four days she raised over $800 towards her goal.

Keshav, what have you learned about starting a business now that you’re further along in the process?

Wow, there are so many things I’ve learned!  For example – how to start an LLC, get set up with the IRS, open accounts with banks (lots of paperwork – this is the boring stuff and it turns out a 14-year-old can’t sign for most of it).  I’ve gotten a lot of practice in pitching our business idea – from a 30 second pitch when someone asks me “what is MeritBooster” to a 7-10 minute pitch for investors.  One key thing I’ve learned is to always do a tech-check before making an important pitch, and even if you have a technical glitch, it’s not about the slides – it’s about you, so just keep talking.

Rajesh, what have you learned about your son during this time?

I am constantly amazed at the focus and dedication that he has shown.  Once a week or so I put on my “dad hat” and check in with him to make sure he is still motivated and interested in continuing. He has been steadfast in his desire to see MeritBooster succeed.  He’s 14 and still loves playing PS3 on weekends, but I’ve seen him rise to the challenge and practice all weekend when we have an important pitch or meeting.  I’ve learned that Keshav has a natural speaking ability – a skill that will serve him well in the future.  Keshav told me just the other day that, a year ago, he had no idea what he wanted to do for a career, but now, because of Startup Weekend and TechStart, he knows that he wants to be an entrepreneur.  He has begun reading business news on his own and trying to learn as much as he can about the customer development process.  It’s really great to see him develop his vision of what he wants to accomplish in the future.

MeritBooster is now live and is actively looking for youths or youth groups who would like to start projects to try to raise funds.