Category: Startups & MVP’s

Celebrating womanhood: Top 3 motivating women entrepreneurs

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Who said it’s a man’s world alone? Gone are the days when men ruled the world. It is the era of the woman. According to the statistics provided by the U.S. based Center for Women’s Research, it is seen that women own 10.6 million businesses and make annual sales of $2-5 trillion every year. And these figures are increasing!

This year the theme for the International Women’s Day celebration is: “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.” Some groups also added a plug to it saying, “A Promise is a Promise: Time for action to end Violence against women.” On the eve of the International Women’s Day, Idyllic Software takes pride to salute three successful female entrepreneurs who are now the inspiration of many men and women.

Sara Blakely of Spanx

Who doesn’t want to look two inches less with confidence? Sara Blakely, too, was behind this bandwagon. She wanted to look better and searched high and low for the best slimming undergarments. Tired and vexed, she could not find any she liked! However, destiny had plans that she would be the one to carve out a design of new-age underwear to help women to amp up their style Q with a proportionate, sleek shape.

She launched her own startup with $5,000, and today she is one of America’s billionaires. But her journey was not a bed of roses. She pitched her idea before the hosiery mills which were male dominated. In one fateful conversation with a Neiman Marcus buyer, she pitched, “I gave new meaning to putting your butt on the line.” When she saw her customer was unsure, she immediately told her, “You’ve got to come with me to the bathroom!” Sara accompanied her and twice she emerged wearing her well-known white pants – first with and then without Spanx. “That instantly sold her,” Blakely said.

Her idea was different and original, crazy and innovative. This gave her a chance to make her pitch stand viable before the reputed hosiery mill owners. She challenged the traditional “competitive male” view of business and shattered it with a blow. Her business idea and her product demonstrate the importance of a small business that balances masculine and feminine qualities.

Rashmi Sinha of Slideshare

She headed the U.S. to do her PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology. After successfully completing it from the Brown University , Rashmi Sinha moved to San Francisco to conduct her post doc research. But destiny had some other plans for her! She soon got bored with her regular lab work and started to develop a soft spot for web technology. She hardly knew that the love for the burgeoning technology could actually open doors for her own startup venture. She co-founded Uzanto, a user experience consulting company which now boasts clients like eBay and Blue Shield to name a few.

In 2005 she launched her first product MindCanvas and co founded Slideshare a year after, whichhas become an icon of its own. More than 60 million unique visitors have registered for Slideshare, which include big corporate names like Hewlett Packard, IBM, O’Reilly Media, The White House, NASA, State of Utah and the World Economic Forum. The story does not end there, Sinha’s Slideshare was named one of the World’s Top 10 tools for education & e-learning in 2010, and Sinha was included among the world’s Top 10 Women Influencers in Web 2.0 by FastCompany.

Alexa von Tobel of LearnVest

We have often heard that money and women are like two different worlds. They are never in sync with each other. It is a common male chauvinistic attitude that spells women don’t understand how to handle money. Challenging this male prejudiced opinion, Alexa, the 28 year old entrepreneur, developed her product called LearnVest.

She started her career with the investment giant Morgan Stanley but soon left it to follow her entrepreneurial dreams. With just $75,000 she launched her business. Soon she recruited eminent advisors like the former CEO of the Huffington Post and former COO of DailyCandy. Along with her team, she managed to secure $1.1million seed funding, and in 2009 she launched the website. In no time, more than 100,000 members signedon to get their start on learning about investments.

Alexa became a role-model among many women for her sincere intent challenge the financial industry patriarchy. Her company still aims to help young women develop good financial habits early on in life. Today, her company has raised over $6 million in funding and it’s increasing every year.

We are happy that year after year women are taking the entrepreneurial route and walking in tune with their male counterparts, leaving behind the stigmatized outlook that creates gender bias.

We at Idyllic Software firmly believe in gender equality. Hence we would love to work with female entrepreneurs on launching their dreams and developing a business relationship. Do you have an idea that you would love to see turn into reality? We would love to hear about it!

Start Your Company with an Offshore Vacation

How would it be to start your company with a vacation?

Sounds great right? But, you are saving every penny to start your dream venture. You don’t want to indulge but stay focused and work hard to make your dream come alive. And you want to be there when it happens! So how could you enjoy a vacation?

What if I said, you can be focused, work to succeed, yet witness each step towards realizing your dreams while enjoying a vacation? Yes, it is possible. Just plan a vacation at the shore… you just offshored your web development. While your idea takes shape, be there to witness it and enjoy many more advantages.

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No speculations, More freedom

Once you move offshore for the web development phase, you are closer to your dreams. You have full transparency about the project. You enjoy the freedom of hiring your own web development team while not having to own the responsibility. You can motivate your development team; know what they are doing for your project, see how the web application is evolving and where your money is going.

Bridge The Geographic Bride to Bridge the Communication gap

Most entrepreneurs face communication challenges with offshore partners. Your ideas are at a risk of misinterpretation unless the communication gap is filled. Physically being present helps a lot. It is easy to convey an idea and see that development is done per your instructions. Misinterpretations can be tackled at a faster pace when you can work with the development team directly and see how your web application is evolving.

Lean, Learn & Implement

Lean means creating more value for your customers with fewer resources. A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. Your offshore team can help reduce waste and create value.

Become a Lean Startup while you work with expert developers. Brainstorming with the development team can help you decide what to keep and what not to keep in your Minimum Viable Product. You also get to know the technical hiccups, how to overcome them and how long would the process will take. Learn and implement strategically.

Do not wake up with Surprises

When development is offshored, there is a time zone difference. Your offshore team works at your sleeping hours but they still need your guidance. But our biological clock is set to sleep at night. A sound night sleep also increases our productivity. So why work at night? However, the interaction gets limited when you are unavailable at their working hours. If the team gets stuck somewhere, they either have to wait for your response until the next day or have to follow their gut and proceed with development. If they add some features you don’t want, you will wake up with surprises. Another day might be lost in re-doing the work. To avoid such situations – you could temporarily move offshore. Guide your team at daytime and relax at night with them.

Build a long term relationship

Create a strong relationship with your development team while learning about a new culture. It helps both you and your offshore partner to understand each other’s business challenges and requirements. Doubts are replaced with mutual respect and tolerance. Hence, a long term partnership can come up.

Explore a new market

Vacationing is a good opportunity for you to look for new markets. You never know, there might be good business opportunities at an offshore location ready to be explored.

Your chance to have a vacation in India!

India is known for its mysticism, culture and captivating destinations. So here we present you an opportunity to enjoy the Indian holiday with an Idyllic touch. We at Idyllic Software invite you start your entrepreneurial journey from India. We will encourage your dream, and we want you to get it right first time. We will work as your partners, invested in the success of your business and perfection of your product. Be our guest for an Incredible voyage to India!

How Your MVP Helps you Raise Funds for Your Startup

Eric Ries defined Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as “The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

When you want your MVP to raise funds for your product, the definition needs to incorporate a few validations for the investors as well. In order to do so, let’s get started thinking from investor’s perspective.

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Show me the Money

The investor looks for only one thing – The Return on Investment(ROI). ROI is one of the most frequently used words by investors. The parameters and terms that they use to judge the potential of your idea are:

  1. Selling ability
  2. Margins & Exit strategy
  3. The Team
  4. The Execution plan
  5. Entrepreneur

Characteristics of an Investor-friendly MVP

  • Already have customer that pay or are ready to pay in near future
  • Substantial number of customers provide regular feedback
  • Formation of a tribe of customers, a fan following
  • Active and returning customer base
  • Customer centric business model
  • Steadily growing user base
  • New feature development in future based is based on customer feedback

Process of defining an Investor-friendly MVP

As a startup, your biggest constraint is your financial runway where you go on without getting paid. It is also your most powerful decision-making tool. You must take the time to define the MVP right so that you avoid creating waste and use your runway most efficiently.

Every MVP is different and must be carefully defined. Below are some guidelines that will help you craft your investor friendly minimum viable product.

Customer Engagement

Certain ideas, such as Facebook, Mint, and Dropbox grab investors’ interest based on the number of active users. Others require having to pay customers with a product like HubSpot. Based on your product idea, you need to understand which one is right for you. The easiest way to choose the target customer engagement is to identify if your product requires huge data to be successful or if it can be a standalone tool. In the former, you will need customer registrations and in the latter, you will need to have paying customers.

Another parameter to identify the right customer engagement is to categorize your product into B2B and B2C. Most B2C products require a large number of registrations, and B2B proves itself on the grounds of paying customers.

Reason to Come Back

Your customers may register initially due to a some attraction factor sexy up for example and may never come back. Ensure your MVP has enough reasons for the customers to come back and find value in your product. Showing your vision for the product extremely clearly is one of the ways to do it.

Market your WHY

If you tell why you exist more than saying what you do or how you do it, chances are that you will resonate with the right customers in a much better way. Apple and Zappos have done a great job at it. Simon Sinek puts it beautifully and we recommend you to look at the video of his TED Talk.

Business Model

A startup is defined as an attempt to discover a sustainable business model. Most startups have various possible business models but the entrepreneur is almost always unclear about the right one. This is a smell. It means the entrepreneur is not yet clear on the vision of the product.

The entrepreneur is only supposed to spot the most dominant model based on the customer usage. Leave it up to the early adopters to drive it for you. If the entrepreneur is unable to do so, it means that the product does not yet have the right early adopters and the focus needs to be on creating the right set. Probably time to think about a pivot.

Organic User-base growth

If you manage to get a large user base quickly, it does not mean anything. Once you stop pushing the product at this point, and if the user base is still growing steadily than you have created an investor friendly MVP. Use this as a parameter to evaluate your readiness for going to the investor.

You are saying NO to every Feature Request

If every feature has to try hard to prove its verdict to get into product development, you are minimizing wasteful work. This is something very much needed to ensure you are going to spend each dollar wisely and the investors love your conscious in doing so.

Use the above as the guideline to get started. We’re a Ruby on Rails Consulting shop and work with our clients to help them define their MVP. Please feel free to reach out to us to discuss your idea or to define your investor friendly MVP.

What Is Included in an MVP?

What should your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) be comprised of? This is a million dollar question in itself. Instead of talking subjectively, let’s make up a hypothetical case for a B2C business and study the decision-making process.

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The IDEA

Rachel is a high- school graduate in Boulder, Colorado. Books felt boring to her. Homework assignments required reading and she always lost focus. Her friends felt exactly the same way too.

An e-learning idea occurred to her where in books become interactive. It would require her to build a web application where books would talk like professors in class. She realized that a group chat room and “talk to the expert” feature would be required to ensure students could get help if needed.

Minimum Requirement

After a detailed study, she realized the following cost estimates would bring her entire vision to life.

Requirement

Cost

A technical team to design and build the application.

65,000 USD

Compiling 150 books to make them interactive.

250,000 USD

Total Cost

315,000 USD

These numbers could have put her off. Even if she managed to secure the funds, spend the money and build it all out, what if the idea didn’t click with students? Rachel knew she had to make wise decisions and embrace her challenges.

CONSTRAINTS are Good

There are only 2 challenges for Rachel: Time and Money. If she eliminates the extra features such as “talk to the expert” and chat rooms, that leaves only the core feature of interactive books in the requirement. Also, she trimmed down the number of books to ten, by carefully choosing the only history as the one subject to focus on. The new cost table looked like this:

Requirement

Cost

A technical team to design and build the application.

30,000 USD

Compiling 10 books to make them interactive.

17,000 USD

Total Cost:

47,000 USD

The number has been dramatically reduced. So what’s next? Will she succeed? In order to make this venture successful, Rachel will need a large number of students to sign up and pay a high price for the service.

Validate your Hypothesis

Rachel got a call from her friend Jane about how hard it was to memorize the history of the Eiffel Tower. Rachel immediately came up with the idea to create a quick video for her friend. She spent around $50 to get something like this done -.
She forwarded it to her friend, and it was very well received.

Realize that the idea validation does not always require a product to be ready.

SELL before you BUILD

The next day, half of the students in Jane’s class had seen it and asked her to create one about Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. She realized the opportunity and asked them if they would pay her $5 each in advance to create the video. Twelve students handed her $5 on the spot.

Note, that it is not the money that is important. It’s the willingness of the target audience to pay to validate the hypothesis. The risk to go out and build the product is an essential one to take.

Change in Course

Rachel realized that the cost of creating one video was $50 and would not be a viable business model.   It would also take months to complete. She needed to thin about her business model. Instead of creating each video herself, she wondered if every student would create just one video.

Now the business model has changed from a solo endeavor to a crowd-sourced one. The idea of making classes interactive is still the foundation. It’s the implementation that has changed. The change in business model caused the cost to drop down again.

Requirement

Cost

A technical team to design and build the application.

30,000 USD

Compiling 10 books to make them interactive.

0

Total Cost

30,000 USD

Was it the right time to build the product now? What if the students didn’t agree to create the video products?  The products require a big number of students to become producers and an even larger number of students to buy. Also, how would she ensure the videos were of the highest quality?

We’ll leave the story here as it already highlighted a few important ways to help you make decisions for your MVP. If you are still dying to know what happened next, take a look at Udemy.com and Coursera.org/.

If you want help defining your MVP, let us know. We would be more than happy to help you figure out the right plan of action to bring your vision to life with the greatest margins.

Why Entrepreneurs Love Ruby on Rails for Web Development

The statement conceived by Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson in 1975 most commonly defines entrepreneurship:

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“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

Stevenson’s definition of the entrepreneurial process opened up the term to all kinds of people, rich and poor, across continents. “They see an opportunity and don’t feel constrained from pursuing it because they lack resources,” said Stevenson. “They’re used to making do without resources.”

Eric Ries, founder of the Lean Startup Movement has a similar take on entrepreneurism:

“Entrepreneurship is a management system for dealing with uncertainty.” – Eric Ries.

Continually making fast decisions through that uncertainty is the essence of entrepreneurship. The gist of entrepreneurship is to try out many different things and build a business model that works, quickly. Entrepreneurs love anything that helps them make right decisions or even better, decide the right things for them.

Tech Entrepreneurs

For a tech entrepreneur, one of the most important decisions to be made is choosing the right technology stack, the layers of technologies or services used to create a software application. The traditional way of doing that is to choose a framework for every single need. For example, using this ORM, that tempting engine and that other cool new thing with a slick feature to develop your product. This is a very time consuming and resource-zapping approach, as every single option has to be evaluated at length to determine the best ones that will work together to make your system seamless. This is why many tech entrepreneurs chose Ruby on Rails development for their products. Ruby takes the uncertainty out of the equation.

Benefits of Developing With Ruby on Rails

  • Ruby technologies instinctually make targeted decisions based on best practices.
  • It is a full stack web framework that bases itself on conventions rather than configurations.
  • Ruby has been built for speed and quick time to market and focuses on developer happiness.
  • Ruby developers promote pragmatism over dogmatism.

Some of the biggest and most influential technology based companies today have built their successful platforms and companies using Ruby on Rails including, LivingSocial, Twitter and Groupon.

Find out how our Ruby on Rails can bring your product to life. Our Ruby on Rails development team can help you get it right the in the first time itself.

7 Ways to Cut the Fat in a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup has become somewhat of a bible for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but it’s still largely and fundamentally misunderstood as a streamlined, flexible (and lean) business model. If you haven’t yet read the Lean Startup by Eric Ries, the concept is this: while traditional start-ups spend absorbent amounts of time writing long business plans, raising early funding, and building initial prototypes, this model promotes startups that constantly learn and iterate around a minimal viable product. By constantly tweaking, or occasionally pivoting the product, service, and business model in response to early customer feedback, startups can improve their likelihood of success or at least fail faster and cheaper.

With this model, there are a few ways a business can “cut fat” and focus on the essentials to allow the systematic improvement and success of a product. Let’s take a look.

1. Define A Plan

You may be thinking this is true for any business. It is. However, when cutting the fat you’ll want to streamline this plan to include a process for testing hypothesis. It’s equally important to define both the “what” and the “how” by outlining a pipeline of potential people and companies that can validate/invalidate your assumptions, and with specific time frames allotted to each one. Also, define metrics that allow you to judge progress over time. The Lean Startup suggests the Validation Board for this very purpose.

2. Listen to your Consumer

Customer-centric, listening attitude is what you need for your plan to succeed. Don’t be scared to “get out of the building” and engage with the ones you aim to reach by either talking in person, employing usability testing, or even through analytics – LISTEN and adjust your MVP accordingly…

3. Let your MVP soar

Simplicity is the key allowing your Minimally Viable Product to fly. Measure every interaction with the product so that you can go back and make it even simpler. It is difficult for a start-up to truly distinguish a product, so customization and simplification are keys to hit the floor. For building web applications from scratch or designing user-friendly intuitive apps, Ruby on Rails is a tremendous asset to streamline the process and allow for testing.

4. Take Action, Monitor Reaction

Lean innovation and disruption is based in action. You need to keep doing your bit and monitor the reactions. Fortunately, technology and tools have made validating a MVP and product, and putting it in front of real customers is relatively a no-brainer kind of affair, but the DOING seems to be holding some of us back.

5. Decrease process time

This mentality should be applied to all areas of your business plan. If you’re debating a point for more than 30 minutes, take a vote and take action without fear. Using the right web development platform will help you promote the rapid prototyping methodology and stay agile.

6. Cloud Computing

Traditionally startups spend a lot of money upfront to get things going, without seeing much return until later years. Cloud computing facilitates constant feedback loop in the early stages, and helps keep a check in your budget.

7. Budget Your Marketing

When it comes to marketing your product, distribute and sample your goods thoughtfully and to the right people. Stick to the basics and build on your network. This frugal mentality should not only be saved for marketing, but get your whole business back to basics to keep within the lean mentality.

Webbing trends of 2013

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Most business owners and startups tend to ignore web development and design trends while they remain busy focusing on actually running their business. However, your business website plays one of the most important roles between you and your customer, as it creates the first impression and the first interaction point. Good web development, including design and usability, are a necessary part of your larger web marketing and user experience picture.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to be aware of what’s happening around you so that your website and services stay innovative and engaging. Here are a few 2013 trends to keep an eye on.

Responsive Web Design

The explosion of mobile and tablets has left web developers seeking innovative ways to optimize website’s online and mobile performance simultaneously. A website is ‘responsive’ if it looks good at any resolution. This novel and practical approach to web design encourages building websites that are optimized for screens of all sizes – small mobile devices, tablets and large desktop monitors – instead of the traditional method of building two versions of the same website – desktop and a mobile. The cost benefits are huge as developers can focus on developing just one business website that looks sharp, is user-friendly and contains a readable layout irrespective of the device or screen size.

HTML5 and CSS3

These programing languages go hand in hand with mobile and developing professionals to generate logical, responsive and well crafted websites. HTML5 provides multimedia support, canvas, new input types, custom data attributes and in-place, editable content. CSS3 offers font-face – downloadable custom fonts (note: typography!), opacity, RGBA colors for specifying the transparency and fluid transformation for rotating, scaling, etc.

Social Media Integration

2012 was the year of social media integration. 2013 foresees social as more intuitive and part of users’ basic navigation of the web and between websites. The modern consumer is all about sharing purchases, ideas, and even becoming brand evangelists on social platforms, which is why social media can increase customer engagement and brand awareness right on your webpage. For designers and programmers, the challenge will be to be constantly devising and innovating more thoughtful ways of integrating social media into a website’s design, instead of just an afterthought tacked on as an imperative.

Agile Principles

“Agile” is so much more than just the latest buzzword – it’s a professional lifestyle. In essence, agile is a lightweight set of principles that will guide you through project management to daily development. It’s a modernized outlook that’s quietly changing the way we work, how we communicate and the way we see business, including web development. Agile can be seen in many of our established business models and project management methods already – from the Lean Startup model to Scrum.

Typography

Your website is your first impression when dealing with customer or clients, and typography can help you make that impact. Unique and creative fonts are an effective way to instantly grab the attention of your visitors and keep them around for a high-quality, visually-stimulating experience. Moreover, typography is becoming an integral part of any web design project and in 2013 the use of custom fonts will be an essential creative asset, contributing to the overall identity of a website and branding in conjunction with other elements such as color or artwork.

Remember, you do not need to start incorporating all these 2013 trends at once. By gradually updating your development practice and implementing a few new design features, you’ll keep your website fresh and engaged, and isn’t that the bottom line?

Stop making Resolutions – Start making tangible plans.

Statistics say that only 45 percent of Americans take a New Year resolution, while only 8 percent of them emerge successful with it. So why just take a resolution? Let’s welcome the New Year in a better way with more tangible plans and call for action!

It is 2013 and time to act and not just resolute. Taking resolutions is goal setting but what when you fail to achieve it? Just plain resolutions don’t work for startups, it is essential to follow a strategic plan. Energize your team and resources to plan how best to achieve it in an affordable way.

Approach in the lean way

As a new startup or a growing one, funds seem to be the major impediment. Eric Ries devised a great methodology- the lean model for growing startups. Here he emphasizes on the usage of value practices instead of wasteful practices during the product development phase. Use your customer feedback and fine tune your product accordingly with the agile methodology. This will save a lot of money and keep your goal alive.

Keep your focus firm

If you want your resolution to be successful, the recipe is to stay focused. Take cue from various big market players and see how they brand themselves. Branding will set a pavilion for your business to reap benefits.

Build partnerships

Sticking to your startup goal can be executed in the real way by networking and building partnerships. One can never be the master in all fields. So admit it. Collaborate with a firm that respects your startup plan and believes you have potentiality to drive it forward. This will develop your business and enhance your capabilities.

Follow these three simple steps to make your resolution work for your startup this 2013. Let’s decisively follow what Brad Paisley, the noted American singer said: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

Happy and Prosperous 2013 to all of you!

Local is the Global

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Think global but go local is a concept that was first voiced by the ace leaders of innovation and technology from Japan. The initial idea was to think of the world as a whole but to lay the foundation locally to better the society bit by bit. But today local has become the face of global.

In the world of internet, technology has taken a fast pace to serve the entire world sans any geographical borders. But serving in a niche market, narrowing the target audience is the best way a startup can start to cater his/her services. This helps in popularizing the organization and the services, to climb up the global ladder in a later time. Even the newspaper industry which caters to a greater diaspora follows the same thought. A newspaper gets published from various places inside a country. But every edition of it from every location will have its first page dedicated to the local news. This is because proximity matters to get the attention of people.

On Friday, December 14, 2012 when a gunman opened fire on the innocent school children and slaughtered 20 kids and 6 adults, the news went viral across US. But people in other parts of the world knew it much later and just offered their sympathies for the innocent souls! But not many could really relate to the pain and trauma that the families and the localities faced out there. Similarly when 26/11 massacre happened in India’s financial capital Mumbai, not all people around the globe were aware of it immediately. The news took time to reach all. And when it reached 26/11 got renamed as the new face of global terror. This is because we tend to attach ourselves to things developing and happening close to us.

Once a company can tap in its local market, word of mouth and reputation spreads across to take it up the ladder. The story of the automobile giant BMW is apt to validate this point. The German car maker first targeted cars well fit for the German public and their roads. Once that sparked up and they raised the first toast off success, the company started designing cars for the global market. Now they also have cars to buy the sentiments of the upper middle class people from India.

Noted American journalist and author Thomas Friedman in his book “The World is Flat” mentioned how Netscape started with a niche audience to open doors for all and declare “the web is for everyone.” There were a lot of critics who supported his notion while many disagreed. The world is indeed a flat place where meeting two ends is not difficult and impossible but it is far fetched. So localizing, narrowing the target audience gains momentum to the business at the startup level.

Being local is therefore the new face of going global. Target the local market first to rule in the national market followed by the global dominance. One needs to be known in his/her domain first and then can get acknowledged globally. So brace local to be global.

How Hurricane Sandy hit Online Economy

President Barack Obama declared hurricane Sandy as a “major disaster”. It has already claimed lives and shelter of many, cutting off communication and leaving millions of people shivering without power as thousands were evacuated from flooded neighborhoods. The storm hit the East coast region spanning the Eastern Seaboard from North Carolina to Connecticut. New York and New Jersey are the worst affected states of US by this storm that has been called ‘Superstorm’, ‘Megastorm’, ‘Frankenstorm’ and ‘killerstorm’ by the media.

This most devastating storm has hit the economy of US badly…much more than any other disasters in a decade. The New York Stock Exchange was shut for two straight days for the first time since 1888. Many big and small businesses across the affected area bore the brunt of the disaster. It was speculated that online business will be the support pillar in such difficult times. Internet-economy is far from reality.

U.S. has traveled toward online commerce by large but the economy still depends very much on physical highways, not just Internet highways. Century-old networks for physically moving people and goods are still the only way. As usual customers across globe kept purchasing online. Hardly did they know from where their product comes and if the logistics is affected by any adversity. It was a fight of keeping up the reputation for E-commerce companies like Amazon.com Inc, eBay Inc, Fab.com and Gilt Groupe on Tuesday.

Merchants that use Amazon.com’s shipping service were warned about the impact of storm on handling orders and were asked to convey it to customers. For those merchants on Amazon’s online-selling space that handle their own shipping from affected area, the company advised them to temporarily deactivate online listings should they be unable to meet usual shipping standards. World’s largest online marketplace eBay emailed shoppers who purchased from merchants from impacted areas, asking them for patience. They also recommended that affected eBay Store-subscribers put their pages in “vacation mode” to control purchasing and show shoppers that their operation has been temporarily disrupted.

Customers residing in affected area are relying more on online retailers for grocery items now. However, reaching them through flooded routes under adverse weather condition has become a big challenge. Fab.com, a fast-growing design e-commerce start-up based in New York City, handled unusually strong volumes on Monday as people hunkered down at home. Fab.com itself operates out of two warehouses in hard-hit New Jersey, one self-owned and another run by warehouse company Dotcom Distribution. With both lacking power as of mid-afternoon, no packages were making it out the door on Tuesday. Fab.com’s offices a block from New York’s Hudson River were blacked out and closed until further notice.

It doesn’t end here. The delay in delivery is compelling customers to call customer-service. However, with the power and telecommunication down, the onshore customer service companies are not able to operate efficiently. Even the employees find it hard to reach offices.

Other Internet firms are hurt no less. Google’s New York headquarters faced backup power failed when commercial power was cut Monday evening. AT&T Inc. also faced issues in hard-hit areas. Verizon Communications Inc., the biggest phone company in the region, had some of its facilities in downtown Manhattan flooded, shutting down phone and Internet service. Renesys Corp., which monitors the pathways of the Internet, said the storm caused major hit New Jersey and New York are major transit points for international telecommunications traffic, and carriers were scrambling to route traffic around it. Cablevision Systems Corp., which serves parts of Long Island, New York City and New Jersey, experienced widespread outages due to the loss of power.

Many data centers had to convert from utility power to emergency backup and diesel generators as the public power supply disappeared. They found unexpected problems as the storm churned backup plans including flood. Most companies had emergency generators and diesel fuel in the basements, but basements were filled with water. They also have emergency delivery contracts for more fuel, but those contracts did not anticipate that the city’s bridges and tunnels would be closed down when the fuel was needed. For companies who rely on those servers, the stakes were high. Every hour their website was offline posed an increased risk that they will lose customers or readers.

Peer 1, a managed hosting service, changed its Hosting status from “Hurricane Sandy has not impacted operations,” to “facility has made the transition over to generator power,” to “basement is flooded,” to “we are going to implement a controlled shutdown” over the space of a few hours. Internap, a collocation and managed hosting service, was reported to be down.

A Datagram data center was knocked out and with it, popular websites Gawker, Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. No customers lost data but the disruption clearly frustrated companies that relied on Datagram’s services, and raised questions about why the company located its data center in a low-lying area. The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed temporarily moved their operations to Tumblr blogs. Buzzfeed was able to restore its site by moving its data to Amazon Web Services, with one developer working overnight despite a tree falling through his roof.

Datagram was not the only data center to experience flooding during the storm. Steadfast reported that servers at its data center in New York City were down on Monday due to an electrical failure. Data centers at lower Manhattan faced up to four days without power, while employees tried frantically to keep generators running. At one data center, employees reportedly hauled 55-gallon drums of diesel fuel up 17 flights of stairs to keep the generators running until electricity was restored.

Failures at data centers can have widespread impact across the Internet, depending on how many customers the data center serves. In an ideal world, people select data centers based on their tolerance of natural disasters but in reality, real estate and power costs drive data center locations, with disasters being something you prepare for. The critical thing is that you should never have all your data in one location or even in two locations susceptible to the same disaster. Still, most companies, particularly smaller startups, don’t back up their virtual infrastructure in multiple places.

We pray for a fast recovery from Hurricane Sandy and hope online world learns their part of lessons.

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