Category Archives: Markethive

Bitcoin logos are displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show

AP Explains:
What is bitcoin?
A look at the digital currency

  

Bitcoin logos are displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show

In this April 7, 2014, file photo, Bitcoin logos are displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York. It's worth more than an ounce of gold right now, it's completely digital and it's the currency of choice for the cyber attackers who cyber attackers networks around the world in recent days. Bitcoin has a fuzzy history, but it's a type of currency that allows people to buy goods and services and exchange money without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties.

It's worth more than an ounce of gold right now, it's completely digital and it's the currency of choice for the cyber attackers who crippled computer networks around the world in recent days. When the attackers' "ransomware" sprang into action, it held victims hostage by encrypting their data and demanding they send payments in bitcoins to regain access to their computers. Bitcoin has a fuzzy history, but it's a type of currency that allows people to buy goods and services and exchange money without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties.

Here's a brief look at bitcoin:

HOW BITCOINS WORK

Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not tied to a bank or government and allows users to spend money anonymously. The coins are created by users who "mine" them by lending computing power to verify other users' transactions. They receive bitcoins in exchange. The coins also can be bought and sold on exchanges with U.S. dollars and other currencies.

HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH?

One bitcoin recently traded for $1,734.65, according to Coinbase, a company that helps users exchange bitcoins. That makes it more valuable than an ounce of gold, which trades at less than $1,230. The value of bitcoins can swing sharply, though. A year ago, one was worth $457.04, which means that it's nearly quadrupled in the last 12 months. But its price doesn't always go up. A bitcoin's value plunged by 23 percent against the dollar in just a week this past January. It fell by the same amount again in 10 days during March.

WHY BITCOINS ARE POPULAR

Bitcoins are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they travel from one owner to the next. Transactions can be made anonymously, making the currency popular with libertarians as well as tech enthusiasts, speculators — and criminals.

WHO'S USING BITCOIN?

Some businesses have jumped on the bitcoin bandwagon amid a flurry of media coverage. Overstock.com accepts payments in bitcoin, for example. The currency has become popular enough that more than 300,000 daily transactions have been occurring recently, according to bitcoin wallet site blockchain.info. A year ago, activity was closer to 230,000 transactions per day. Still, its popularity is low compared with cash and cards, and many individuals and businesses won't accept bitcoins for payments.

HOW BITCOINS ARE KEPT SECURE

The bitcoin network works by harnessing individuals' greed for the collective good. A network of tech-savvy users called miners keep the system honest by pouring their computing power into a blockchain, a global running tally of every bitcoin transaction. The blockchain prevents rogues from spending the same bitcoin twice, and the miners are rewarded for their efforts by being gifted with the occasional bitcoin. As long as miners keep the blockchain secure, counterfeiting shouldn't be an issue.

HOW BITCOIN CAME TO BE

It's a mystery. Bitcoin was launched in 2009 by a person or group of people operating under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was then adopted by a small clutch of enthusiasts. Nakamoto dropped off the map as bitcoin began to attract widespread attention. But proponents say that doesn't matter: The currency obeys its own internal logic. An Australian entrepreneur last year stepped forward and claimed to be the founder of bitcoin, only to say days later that he did not "have the courage" to publish proof that he is.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The Intersection of Social Media and the Blockchain

The Intersection of Social Media
and the Blockchain

  

Every major social media platform has offered users

a way to communicate with others and earn social currency, such as followers, traffic to their content, likes and retweets. Now, a new breed of social media networks has emerged – one that uses blockchain technology to build platforms enabling users to control their data and escape the censorship imposed by the likes of Facebook and Twitter. In addition, these new social networks reward users with cryptocurrency.

One such new social media platform is Steemit , which runs on top of a decentralized network known as Steem. Steemit rewards users with its own cryptocurrency in addition to social currency. Much like Reddit and Facebook, Steemit uses its incentives to encourage users to post, share and react to content. When someone likes or upvotes a post, it becomes more visible on the site. Steemit rewards the original poster with Steem digital currency that can be exchanged for real cash via Bitcoin or reinvested into "Steam Power," a token that represents how much influence a person has on the Steemit platform.

So, the more Steem Power people have, the more their upvotes will count. Steem Power also allows users to earn additional Steem Power and Steem Dollars from the platform. Put simply, "Steem is a blockchain database that supports community building and social interaction with cryptocurrency rewards," according to the company. Last year, Steem issued a $1.3 million payout to Steemit users. Half was distributed in Steem Dollars, each worth about $1, and a half in Steem Power.

"Because it's based entirely on a blockchain, Steemit shows what social media can look like without censorship," said Steemit CEO Ned Scott at the time. "Everything we see on Steemit.com comes from the open source Steem blockchain, so the entire network is replicable on any front-end application." Another example of a decentralized social network based on the blockchain protocol is AKASHA, which uses the Ethereum blockchain to store user-created content.

AKASHA lets users publish, share and vote for entries, much like Medium and other modern publishing platforms. The difference, though, is that user content is published over Ethereum's decentralized network rather than on the company's servers. The votes are bundled with Ethereum microtransactions, so users can earn some Ethereum if their content is good and other users vote for it. It is "in a way, mining with your mind ." In the second and third quarters of this year, the company expects to open source the code powering AKASHA and run a community breakathon to find and fix the bugs that might have slipped by during development. The AKASHA team is aiming to launch the Ethereum main network in the fourth quarter of this year.

Blockchain startup Synereo is also creating a decentralized, next-generation social networking and content delivery platform. Recently, Synereo released Qrator, a tool that lets users monetize original content, get rewarded for sharing quality content with others and also discover the best content on the internet. Qrator is the first step toward Synereo's vision of a freer and fairer internet. The app will give users a look into the "Attention Economy" that puts creators and curators on top of the internet's "monetary food chain."

With Qrator, the company is looking to develop a cross-platform social graph, laying the groundwork for a fully-decentralized social content app based on blockchain and distributed storage technologies that will be built on the Qrator foundation later this year. Even as the world of social media is constantly evolving, blockchain technology is changing the world around us. Not just when it comes to financial transactions, but also by introducing decentralization that encourages free speech while doing away with the restrictions imposed by the social media giants.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

 

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

SEC Petition Calls for Blockchain Token Rules

A New York-based broker-dealer

has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to propose rules to cover blockchain-based assets. According to the petition, Ouisa Capital wants the SEC to weigh in on the use of crypto tokens and resolve “the lack of regulatory clarity with respect to the regulation of digital assets and blockchain technology”.

The firm went on to write:

"Ouisa encourages the SEC to engage in a meaningful discussion of how to regulate FinTech companies that are issuing digital assets that may be deemed securities and the platforms and broker-dealers that facilitate the issuance and trading of those digital assets. We believe digital assets in several contexts are securities and that existing laws provide a mechanism for regulation of the issuance and trading of digital assets."

Additionally, Ouisa asked the SEC to create a so-called 'regulatory sandbox', through which startups and financial firms can test new products in limited settings. Unlike other major regulators like the Internal Revenue Service (which views digital currencies as kinds of intangible properties) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (which views them as commodities), the SEC has yet to weigh in with any kind of classification for a blockchain token. When contacted, the SEC declined to comment on the petition and whether it has begun the process of either developing regulations or responding to Ouisa's request. Given its past moves related to space – shooting down a pair of bitcoin exchange-traded funds while continuing to consider a third – such work wouldn't be surprising at this stage, however.

Further, recent comments from officials suggest that the agency is generally weighing the issue, invoking its aim of consumer protection at the same time. During an appearance last week at the North American Securities Administrators Association Section 19(d) Conference, SEC Commissioner Kara Stein remarked on the impact of technology on her agency's work, noting "we will need to adapt and make technology a bigger part of our mission". "Similarly, I hope we continue to examine the range of possible uses of blockchain technology while remaining mindful of vulnerabilities associated with potential cybersecurity risks and investor protection," she said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Blockchain Tech Offers Solution to WannaCry-Type Cyberattacks, Contrary to MSM Brainwashing

Blockchain Tech Offers Solution to WannaCry-Type Cyberattacks,
Contrary to MSM Brainwashing

Some mainstream media

put the blame for the latest WannaCry cyber attack on Bitcoin, thoughtlessly copy-pasting the statements that a cryptocurrency is a convenient tool for terrorists. In reality, the technologies behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies might very well become the next level security against future attacks.

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks on an unprecedented scale put hundreds of thousands of computers at risk. As Bitcoin and Blockchain take the limelight again, Blockchain may offer a viable solution. NSA tools and Windows vulnerability caused the largest cyber attack in history. While Bitcoin and Blockchain can easily be singled out as a scapegoat, companies are already tackling the vulnerability of centralized systems and creating groundbreaking solutions around ID security and verification on the Blockchain.

Extortion

In the wake of WannaCry, the question of security has become more pronounced than ever. The same technology that allows Bitcoin extortion to the hacker might very well be the protection from such events happening again. After the NHS was hacked, Blockchain experts were quick to point out that secure verification on the Blockchain might have prevented the exploits.

Blockchain solutions

The Blockchain and a decentralized ledger have been praised for its security strengths since the inception of Bitcoin. Now after the WannaCry attacks, the focus on this has become even more pronounced. Sphre, the identity management firm has announced a partnership with Airbitz, which is a data security platform and Bitcoin wallet. According to the firm, Sphre’s AIR is a smart contract based platform that looks to join the secure management and monetization of digital identities.

Sphre Director, Daren Seymor tells Alexander Geralis of Cointelegraph in an

exclusive comment:

“The Airbitz wallet integration will form a key part of the Air Platform to deliver XID micropayment and send/exchange functionality.”

Future ID security

Regarding the high-profile attacks of WannaCry that have put hundreds of systems at risk, he sees that there is a need for security, now it is more evident than ever. Seymor went on to point out the need for decentralized solutions in security as opposed to

centralized ones:

“The current high-profile zero-day exploit of WannaCry shows us that the Internet is still a dangerous place for people and institutions. Centralized identity solutions such as Facebook and Google now represent ever increasing value to bad actors based on constantly evolving attack[s]… centralized solutions will become [necessary] as we continue to evolve with, and transact more of our lives via the Internet.”

AIR, which will have its crowd sale later this month, is not the only company working towards identity security and verification. South African entrepreneur and Bitcoin advocate, Vinny Lingham’s Civic is another project aiming to give users identity security.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Cloud-based blockchain for enterprises

Cloud-based blockchain for enterprises

   Cloud-based blockchain technology

to secure, share and track data across decentralized infrastructures within enterprises sounds magical. Gospel Technology claims to have this with the launch of Gospel Cloud Version 1, based on a private, permission led distributed ledger system. “We’re living in a new data culture where information is the most vital asset for a business. Constant reports of breaches, malicious hacking from external parties and the corruption of facts to disseminate “fake news” has exacerbated an atmosphere of mistrust in game-changing technologies such as cloud, AI and IoT. High profile brands with large security budgets even appear not to be immune” Ian Smith, the founder of Gospel Technology says.

The purpose

At the heart of Gospel Cloud is this private, permission led distributed ledger, containing:

  • key enterprise data (whether this is intellectual property, personal, sensitive content, healthcare records, or whatever)
  • an absolute record of trusted transactions
  • access unlocked by Gospel’s Distributed Data Logic
  • a real time user consent engine
  • rendered real-time data views of historical changes at the data content level
  • LedgerBridge, with support for SAP, Oracle, instructed filesystems, etc
  • enhanced end-to-end encryption (TLS)
  • delivery as a built platform (allegedly enterprises can be deployed it without extensive customization and/or services)
  • blockchain agnosticism; Gospel Cloud is a derivative from the Hyperledger using pluggable consensus; this can change to align with defined threat models.

 

Gospel Cloud takes the distributed consensus and immutability features of the blockchain. It implements this without the time and resource draining downside of public blockchains. In so doing it removes the replication and risk of corruption, accidental deletion, and malicious data. Distributed Data Logic drives a rethinking of consent and real-time transactional approval. It takes into account not only multi-layer authentication but elements of transactional context – including identity, location, action, time, trend and other aspects – to ensure absolute trust and authentication at the point of transaction.

Combining such a private permission led distributed ledger eliminates many of the expensive, inefficient and insecure workarounds required to share data with third parties. Gospel sees these workarounds as an unnecessary if inevitable consequence of the new digital age clashing with traditional siloed solutions. Furthermore, in the new threat dynamics of the modern digital enterprise, a privately distributed blockchain offers a level of confidence which a conventional distributed database could never hope to attain in terms of efficiency and security.

Conclusion

The ability to avoid the inefficiencies of public blockchains – while continuing to deliver immutable proof of provenance, usage history, integrity, and authenticity – makes the Gospel Cloud concept simpler than a public blockchain. Placing it in a cloud environment matches the move to reduce the cost of running your own IT.

Boiled down, Gospel Cloud’s core benefits enable enterprises to collaborate securely as users upload and share sensitive data and records. The result means enterprises can comply with the far stricter rules on treatment and protection of personal data (such as those in the looming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Delivered in a cloud the claimed utility could prove attractive, especially if performance and cost don’t become gating factors.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Blockchain technology creeps ever more into Irish banking system

Ulster Bank.

Ulster Bank is leading a new investigation into blockchain underpinning Irish payments systems, with partners including AIB, PTSB and Deloitte. Blockchain’s impact on various industries has been considerable, most notably through its foundation of bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency in the world. However, predictions were always such that cryptocurrencies were just the start. Everything from supply chain management to the entire financial services model would be overhauled, in theory, by a ledger system like no other.

Blockchain’s broad reach

Those predictions are already proving accurate in some areas. The shipping industry, for example, is diving deep into blockchain investigations, with billions of dollars predicted to be saved in the coming years. However, it’s banking that’s the most intriguing, with Irish institutions in no mood to be left behind at the moment. A new project at various financial institutions is exploring the application of blockchain technology developed by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to improve domestic payments systems.

Called Project GreenPay, Ulster Bank is teaming up with AIB, Permanent TSB (PTSB), Deloitte and RBS to run the program. The cross-bank team has specifically concentrated on enhancements to speed, resilience and security for customers and is working on “an enhanced potential alternative platform for domestic payments”.

From lab to live

Dogpatch Labs played host to an early test of the project, with payments sent between the banks to check for performance, accuracy, and scalability. The next step is to run a pilot using live payments and explore further use cases of the technology in the international payments and foreign exchange space. “Blockchain has the potential to disrupt multiple industries for the benefit of customers, and we’re determined to investigate how we can harness this force for the financial sector,” said Ciarán Coyle, chief administrative officer with Ulster Bank.

“RBS has done a lot of work in this space with their partners through Emerald, and it was opportune for us to join with AIB, PTSB, and Deloitte to examine possible improvements for our customers. We are focused on an open collaboration like this project to help the industry make banking simpler and more secure for our customers.” There are other projects already underway in this area.

Varied approaches

While start-ups are seen as the driver of much of the innovation within the financial industry, some of the more traditional models are doing their utmost to keep ahead of the curve. Barclays recently revealed that it has opened a new fintech innovation lab in London, the largest of its kind in Europe.

Called Rise, the center will be a collaborative space for Barclays to work with start-ups, developers and some of its other corporate clients on projects to “help to create the future of financial services”. Blockchain will be a major focus. Belfast has also made attempts to build a hub of blockchain businesses, again with financial services as the target. However, this Ulster Bank project, given the collaboration with multiple major financial institutions, could prove the most interesting development of the lot.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Meet the German Baron Who Thinks Blockchain Will Beat the Middlemen

Meet the German Baron Who Thinks Blockchain Will Beat the Middlemen

  

The former head of Germany's armed forces

is now helping to bring blockchain tech to some of the world's largest financial institutions. An early advisor to distributed financial technology firm Ripple, not to mention a bonafide German baron, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg today plays a key role in enabling the heavily funded startup to make inroads in the banking sector. But as co-founder of consultancy Spitzberg Partners, he is setting his sights beyond finance. Over the course of his time at both the Ministry of Defense and Minister of Economics & Technology, zu Guttenberg built up an extensive network of global politicians, technologists, and bankers.

Long rumored to be a potential candidate to replace his former boss, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, zu Guttenberg last month revealed exclusively to CoinDesk that his firm had partnered with the State of Delaware's blockchain initiative to help bring a global tech cohort to the tiny US state. Now, he says his firm has taken on a "significant portion" of blockchain companies as clients and is consolidating those resources to focus on a concerted push to bring the technology to the world. At Spitzberg’s New York City headquarters, zu Guttenberg explained how the work he's conducting in Delaware, with Ripple, and with other blockchain firms, is part of a larger plan.

Zu Guttenberg told CoinDesk:

"I always tell the dreamers in the bitcoin community and the blockchain community, don't expect that this will happen at one point and everyone is enlightened. It will be a bumpy process."

Seeking disruptors

Zu Guttenberg founded New York City-based Spitzerg Partners in August 2013 in reaction to requests he said he received from leaders in the US tech sector for advice on navigating complicated geopolitical issues. After commissioning a study on the leading causes of failed companies, he narrowed the reasons to inadequate geopolitical and cross-cultural knowledge, as well as an inability to properly understand the regulatory implications of both. "I was interested in the fact that they were burning billions [of dollars] in their attempt to roll out by entirely misunderstanding a few core elements," he said.

Currently, Spitzerg focuses on revenue generating firms in four main industries – Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and blockchain – with a rapidly growing cohort of blockchain startups, though the co-founder didn't share the exact number. Zu Guttenberg defines his typical client as a company that could become the subject of either a "fiercely led political debate, a harsh counter-reaction by old industry or a combination of both."

He added:

"And there are many."

The first pebble

Zu Guttenberg first caught the blockchain bug in 2012 at a conference where he met the co-founder of San Francisco-based Ripple, Chris Larsen, and New York-based Digital Currency Group founder and CEO, Barry Silbert. Following a conversation with the two, zu Guttenberg said his interest was piqued, mostly about the idea of a shared ledger with the power to let counterparties do business without a middleman. He bought about $30 worth of bitcoin and began a dialogue with Larsen that culminated in July 2014 when he formally joined Ripple's advisory board.

At the time, he had been working on a series of unpublished articles about international capital flows and the history of correspondent banking and discussed the role that Ripple's cryptocurrency, XRP, could potentially play in freeing up dormant money in banks around the world. With XRP in the midst of an explosive growth cycle that has seen it become the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, zu Guttenberg, and his team have continued to work behind the scenes to help build out Ripple’s network.

Most recently, Ripple has added 10 new financial firms to its network, including MUFG in Japan, BBVA in Spain and SEB in Sweden, and has completed a pilot with 47 global banks. Though Ripple has set legacy financial technology firm Swift square in its sights, zu Guttenberg said that Ripple’s secret to widespread adoption has been recognizing when to play nice with other legacy platforms. "Many of these players, although they are sitting on already rotten instruments or structures, will be in place, and in power," he said. "[They will be] dramatically empowered by political circles for quite a while and they're still extremely influential."

Global vision

To help modernize those legacy systems, though, Ripple will require more than just a willingness to play nice with banks. Government support is crucial. Zu Guttenberg cited smaller nations such as Estonia and Singapore, and jurisdictions including the Zug region of Switzerland and Delaware, as fundamental testing grounds for the types of legislation that might one day underpin a new financial infrastructure. Specifically, he said the "charm" of Delaware's increasing openness to blockchain should serve as a template for jurisdictions around the world.

Most recently, Delaware state senators introduced a bill that would explicitly name blockchain as a recognized technology to support the owning and trading of corporate stocks. "Why don't we translate the Delaware experience to another state or city in Germany?" zu Guttenberg asked. "Why don’t we try to do the same in the Middle East? Why don't we try to do the same in Latin America somewhere?" The ex-minister added that he's already had conversations with his former boss, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which she expressed a "general" interest in the technology.

"The question is, will every department be adopted, or will it just be two or three departments doing it?" he said. While he said the topic of how blockchain is being adopted by governments comes up organically in his meetings with leaders around the world, zu Guttenberg argued that the push to bring blockchain into widespread adoption will require a more concerted effort. "People [need to] deliver the experiences from these test runs to other governments, to old industry and back to the blockchain industry."

He concluded:

"That doesn't happen by itself and we're delighted to be at that intersection."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Will Markethive Get On Shark Tank? Fingeres Crossed!

 

Chris Corey from Markethive attended an open casting call in Detroit's Hope Hall to bring Markethive into the Shark Tank

 

 

Shark Tank is a TV show where entrepreneurs come into a room and pitch a panel of “Sharks” or investors to raise money for their idea.

 

Pitching Shark Tank has been one of my goals since I had seen the first episode. The chance to stand in front of a room of skilled investors as you try to convey your vision for your company in such a way that, they too capture and embrace your dream.

I have always loved the quote " you don't know, what you don't know" as I have watched hundreds of episodes of Shark Tank I have gained a deeper insight into business from each episode. To be brought into the show via my television, to be able to experience the minds of true professional investors is worth its weight in gold.  Shark Tank, in my opinion, has done two things. One, allows its viewers to gain great insight into what investors look for in companies while allowing you to better prepare for the type of information they are looking to extract. Two, they allow you to see how they themselves would change a feature about the product or the look of the packaging to increase sales. Nowhere else can you gain this knowledge, without having a company and pitching yourself. Still, the knowledge gained from one live pitch yourself in comparison to the knowledge gained from watching hundreds of pitches is like comparing Earth to the size of our Sun. 

Entrepreneurs who make it onto a "Shark Tank" episode have the opportunity to introduce their company to a viewing audience of 7 million potential customers.

The companies that land a deal with one or more of the show's investors then have the chance to scale and, in some cases, become a nationally recognized brand.

We looked through old episodes and asked the Sharks themselves about their most successful deals. Read on to learn about the biggest "Shark Tank" success stories so far.

 

Scrub Daddy

A sponge company has far and away become the biggest "Shark Tank" success story. Over the past three years, Scrub Daddy has brought in a total of $75 million in revenue, according to investor Lori Greiner.

Greiner made a deal with its founder and CEO, Aaron Krause, in Season 4 for $200,000 in exchange for 20% equity. At that point, Krause had struggled to reach $100,000 in sales over 18 months, but Greiner saw great potential in the company's signature offering, a proprietary smiley-faced sponge that was more durable, hygienic, and effective than a traditional one.

She helped Krause expand his product line and brought them onto QVC and into stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, where they have become bestsellers.

Shark Tank highlights entrepreneurs who are seeking an investment to expand or launch their business or product. Fervent business owners pitch their idea to the sharks, a panel of savvy investors and business gurus who are self-made millionaires and billionaires. If the sharks like what they hear they may invest their own money, and if they aren’t impressed they can be ruthless in teaching the entrepreneurs a hard lesson or exposing weaknesses within a business, product, or concept. The pitches can be quite dramatic as hopeful and passionate entrepreneurs put it all on the line, sometimes collapsing under the pressure of fast-paced negotiations and even breaking down in tears. In this fantastic whirlwind of television mania, some products are torn apart and spit out by sharks while others create a feeding frenzy. For those that make it out alive, appearing on the Shark Tank can accelerate success wildly fast. 

In reality, most pitches last for a grueling hour or more but are edited down to make entertaining ten-minute television segments. The entrepreneurs must convince the sharks to invest the full amount of money they are asking for, or more, or they leave the tank without a deal. The deals reached on the show are preliminary agreements and are not binding until the sharks do their due diligence in checking out the entrepreneur and claims made in the pitch. Some deals actually fall apart behind the scenes and some may be altered. In any case, all the businesses that appear on the show get the unique opportunity to stand in the spotlight as 8 million viewers watch their enthusiastic and heartfelt pitch. The exposure from the show creates a rapid acceleration of product sales and interest in the featured businesses, crashing websites with a bombardment of sudden traffic, stripping companies of their inventory, and turning start-ups into multi-million dollar companies practically overnight. This boom in growth and product sales has come to be known as the Shark Tank Effect. 

Chris Corey Markethive

Contributors:

http://www.businessinsider.com

 

Images from Printerest

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Ways to Boost Your Social Media Creativity Game

Ways to Boost Your Social Media Creativity Game

You don't have to be Tinder to light a fire under your customer base, with word-of-mouth marketing tactics.
4 Ways to Boost Your Social Media Creativity Game

Leave it to a dating app to demonstrate the instant success

a creative social media marketing approach can bring to a new business. Tinder — the location-based dating service that facilitates matchups between interested parties — used a tactic best described as word-of-mouth advertising in a digital format To successfully launch its app.

In a recent podcast, Tinder co-founder and CEO Sean Rad revealed that the company grew by 50 percent the day after it tested 500 individuals a link to its app. That tactic and other word-of-mouth campaigns grew Tinder's customer base from 20,000 to 500,000 users in less than a month. Clearly, entrepreneurs hoping to quickly reach and grow their own customer bases must embrace social media in all its forms. Social media's free word-of-mouth nature can attract and engage potential customers at a stage in the company's development when advertising budgets are often tight and expenses must be carefully monitored. When building a new business, attracting customers is imperative — and social media is a leading pathway to gathering and retaining loyal consumers.

Reach out and touch your customers.

Consumers love to be engaged, equipped and empowered, Kimberly Whitler, a marketing professor at the University of Virginia, has said. This makes them feel important, as though they have a vested interest in the company. Consumers crave two-way interactions and are flattered to offer reviews of a company's products or services. Why should this matter to a small entrepreneur? Because every customer reached is a potential repeat customer who will tell others about a positive experience. When a startup adopts social media marketing tactics that truly engage its customers, the benefits are plentiful: The company likely will grow its customer base while spending less money on marketing, leaving more funds available to invest in higher salaries for employees and other areas of the business.

Social media marketing done right also helps businesses stay top of mind among their followers. Consumers will recall engaging content, helpful advice or a humorous post. According to MarketingLand, consumers don't want to be lectured or bombarded with ads. Good vibes toward the company result in trust, long-term loyalty, and a positive bottom line.Nielsen reports that 92 percent of global consumers identify earned media as their favorite form of advertising, primarily in the form of recommendations from friends and acquaintances. Those customers trust companies that connect with them in genuine, captivating ways; and they want to establish relationships with them.

Shake up strategies to push the marketing status quo

So, how can entrepreneurs change their marketing strategies to create connections with customers and pack a more social punch? Here are four tactics to try:

Register accounts on all major platforms.

According to Hootsuite, social media can no longer be brushed aside. A business won't succeed without active accounts across several platforms. If social media's word-of-mouth power is not utilized, the chances for promoting a business are largely lost. Get started with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to meet customers where they are. Even companies without a product to sell benefit from engaging on social media. Magic Leap, a private company that is developing a futuristic augmented/virtual reality system, has created interactive content to whet users' appetites for the impact its future product could have on their daily lives. Despite its lack of any imminent product launch announcement to date, the company has still generated about 60,000 likes on Facebook and has attracted 32,000 Twitter followers.

Harness the power of community.

Reach out to consumers — and let them reach out to you and to one another — using social media in order to successfully build community and benefit from positive word of mouth. Yelp, which publishes crowdsourced reviews of products and services, shows how powerful positive reviews can be. If a customer likes the service or food at a new restaurant in town, a good Yelp review will encourage even more customers to flock to the startup's table. Encouraging customers to leave a positively verified review, perhaps through offering a coupon or discount on future services, can help draw in new customers.

Consider for example the case of Uncle Maddio's Pizza. I came across the family-owned pizza joint while traveling with my son's baseball team. Our hungry team searched restaurant reviews on Yelp and found positive comments about Uncle Maddio's. As promised, the food was excellent, the service was top-notch and the staff was personable. Before we left, I learned that a franchise location would soon open in my hometown. The owners started a Facebook page for the new location and promoted "spirit nights" that would raise money for schools and youth organizations. Needless to say, when the new store opened, I took my family there and have returned many times to eat and to support fundraisers there. Positive online and word-of-mouth reviews have led this small business to success.

Associate with other businesses that share similar mindsets.

Strive to connect to businesses that are working toward the same type of high-quality customer experiences you are. Good business practice dictates being tied in with others that have strong search-engine rankings and website presences. Interact with them online, and share each other's content across your social platforms. Many online marketers, such as Neil Patel of Kissmetrics — whom I've turned to for advice on my SEO projects — say posts on social media accounts influence Google and Bing search rankings. Search engine rankings aim to provide users the best possible resources to help them make purchasing decisions and acquire information. These accounts can affect the business's reputation and authority just as easily as they promote the business.

Employ someone who knows how to use social media effectively.

Hire someone who thoroughly knows social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond. This person should be able to moderate comments, post daily messages and answer inquiries. Give this person guidance on what your business is trying to accomplish and a list of what's acceptable to post. His or her goal should be to keep customers informed and engaged in a timely manner. A good social media team can take a business to global heights. Holly Clarke, a marketing manager at Airbnb, says the company has team members in San Francisco, France, Germany and the U.K., along with translators tailoring posts to other areas of the world. Airbnb's #NightAt and #BelongAnywhere campaigns draw in consumers from across the globe to interact with its content.

Entrepreneurs have a lot to think about when starting new businesses, but the use of social media should be a no-brainer. Creative social media marketing tactics, with an emphasis on free word-of-mouth advertising, enable a startup to quickly grow its customer base. Long-term relationships and two-way interactions with those customers will soon follow. Make sure you and your business are creating those interactions, as well.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The Rules of Social Media Marketing Success: Listen and Plan

The Rules of Social Media Marketing Success: Listen and Plan

 

Social media marketing leveled the playing field for marketers

in companies of all sizes. When done right, it offers a direct connection with your customers and insight into their needs, their attitudes towards your (and your competitor's) brand and their context. When done wrong, it's amazing the outsized headaches 140 characters can make. In this four-part series, I 'll be sharing the eight mandates that set your social media marketing strategy up for success so you hopefully avoid those headaches.

Start Listening

I believe that listening is the single most important key for marketers who want to be successful in social media. Although the average person spends about 45 percent of his or her waking hours listening, most of us are simply not very good at it. Various studies conducted over the years have shown that we comprehend and retain only about 25 percent of what we hear. With that challenge so prevalent, applying good listening strategies and skills in the social media environment becomes even more critical. "Intentional listening," as my friend and colleague Eric Fletcher calls it, should be front and center in your social media marketing strategy, as it plays an integral role in ensuring that you can find your target audience, hear and understand their wants and needs, and then effectively communicate with them in such a way that establishes trust and strong, long-lasting relationships.

At the outset of your social media marketing program — even before implementing your listening tactics — do your homework. Conduct surveys and focus groups. Gather responses and evaluate. And spend some quality time "lurking and learning" on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels to find out what your target audience has to say. Finally, make sure you're carefully monitoring your competitors as well. Are they listening to their constituents or just broadcasting marketing messages? You'll have to do a little old-fashioned detective work, but remember that with social media, the playing field truly has been leveled. You don't have to guess about who's doing what — just listen.

Plan Carefully

Too many marketers jump right in and start using various social tools — such as Twitter, Google plus and blogs — before they've even developed a strategic plan or thought about how those activities might impact the rest of their marketing initiatives. Don't make that mistake. Take a little time to determine how to best integrate social media into your existing marketing strategy and mix. It'll pay off for you.

Step one in the planning process is to nail down specific social media objectives, based on the listening activities detailed in the first mandate. Now that you know what your constituents care about and are discussing on social media, how does that impact the messages you need to communicate to them? Step two is to integrate your social media strategy into your overall marketing strategy to ensure you can leverage your resources efficiently and effectively and that common goals can be more easily reached. If you work for a large enterprise, you have two significant advantages over a small business when it comes to planning and budgeting for a social media marketing program. First, your company's DNA most likely has a built-in "think strategically" strand, and second, it also probably has a fairly large wallet. 

If, however, you work for or own a small business, you have an advantage as well. You most likely can make strategic decisions and launch new marketing programs fairly quickly. That can be a huge benefit in the fast-paced social media world. Finally, be sure you're prepared to monitor and measure your impact and progress. Establishing benchmarks and other metrics that can be tracked over time will help you better understand what's working and what's not, and thus be able to make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure the success of your social media marketing activities.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Be As You Are ….