Instagram for $1 Billion…What’s Next?!

When I read that Facebook was buying Instagram for $1 billion, I had a bit of a different reaction than everyone else.  You heard a lot of complaints about Facebook continuing to take over other apps (first Gowalla and now Instagram!?)  You heard a lot of, “Are you serious!? ONE BILLION DOLLARS?”  You heard a lot of people just going crazy over two of their favorite pieces of technology coming together.

So what do I think?

I think this is awesome.  I love pictures.  Instagram brings me together with my friends from all over the country, takes away all of the noise from status updates and simply gives a picture.  I’m a visual person so it is perfect for me.  I, of course, love Facebook, but Facebook does not understand mobile apps and photography like they need to.  Sure they invented tagging pictures and created a more interactive experience for photography.  But Instagram can teach Facebook about what it takes for a good mobile experience and what mobile users are looking for.  Facebook has always struggled with their app, and Instagram has always been applauded by their app.  And after all, everything is headed toward mobile now so this will be important for Facebook’s business.

But what really made headlines was the fact that Instagram had 13 employees, has not been around as long as many of the other successful start-ups (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but has still found so much success.  How many times have you seen a new product or app and thought “Why didn’t I think of that?  That was so obvious!”  Photo sharing is not a new invention.  People have been sharing photos since the beginning of time.  But Instagram took it to the next step to make it a packaged experience.

This past weekend I was furniture shopping, and there was a couch with a chaise that could be replaced with a smaller cushion so it became a regular sized couch (aka 2-3 cushions straight across).  What an obvious but awesome invention!  And how many times have you looked at the Draw Something! app and thought, “Of course!  If Words With Friends, Chess With Friends, etc. have been so popular, of course ‘Pictionary With Friends’ would be popular!”  It is all about thinking about what people NEED or WANT and thinking of a way to solve that problem or meet that desire.

My junior year at Boston University, I took a series of four classes infamously known as Core.  You were put on a team with 7 other people and had to invent a product that doesn’t exist.  Then over the semester, you had to create a business plan that was as detailed as figuring out where your office building and production facilities would be and how much it would cost to produce the product.  There were marketing, finance, operations, and information systems sections that went into excruciating detail about your plan and future profitability.  We had to think of multiple products before ultimately deciding on the TripShield.  But the way we thought about it was by thinking of what problem people had — what they were unsatisfied with — and how we could fix it.  We thought about wires lying around college dorms and in dangerous places for young children.  We then thought of a way to fix it with the TripShield.

Not every company will have success like Instagram. They are really the black sheep of our time (see TechCrunch article). But every so often a company with an awesome ideas gets likely and, well, gets $1 billion dollars.

What do you think made them stand out more than other companies who have these awesome, unique ideas?

I’m Still Here!

Time flies when you are having fun! 

It may seem like everything has slowed down since I haven’t written a post in so long, but that is far from the truth. 

Last month, I published my first ebook for HubSpot called “Reinvent Your Event Marketing for Higher ROI.” It takes you through the planning process of setting goals for your trade show and creating a detailed strategy to make sure you achieve those goals and ultimately get higher ROI for being at the trade show. Sometimes it may be difficult to measure your trade show results, but it gives you details on how to do that!

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Cover for Reinvent Your Event Marketing for Higher ROI

I have also written a ton of content for the HubSpot Marketing Blog. One of the awesome things about this blog is that as soon as there are new marketing developments (Google+, Pinterest, etc.), we have an article posted about it. Though it may be hard at times to keep up with all these advancements, this blog is definitely an awesome start!

My last 5 blog posts include:

But probably the most exciting news is the conference I’m planning at HubSpot, Inbound 2012. This conference is from August 27-30, 2012 at the Hynes Convention Center for 2,000 marketers. You may have read about HUGS 2011 last year that was for 1,000 HubSpot customers. Inbound 2012 expands that conference to twice the size, three times as long and for any marketer, not just HubSpot customers. There will be keynote speakers including Gary Vaynerchuk and Rand Fishkin, certification and training, more than 50 sessions, a live band karaoke party and a sponsor pavilion different than anything you may have seen before. Stay tuned for some exciting updates on that!

What have you been doing lately?

OpenTable + Foursquare

I am a big fan of OpenTable.  And I am a big fan of Foursquare.

Whenever I go out to dinner, I make a reservation on OpenTable (if the restaurant is on it).  Whenever I go anywhere, I check in on Foursquare.

When I use OpenTable, I get either 100 or 1,000 points (depending on the restaurant).  When I use Foursquare, I get between 1-5 points (or maybe even more depending on Foursquare).

Before you go to dinner, you make a reservation on OpenTable.  When you get to the restaurant, you check-in on Foursquare completing the cycle.  OpenTable is the proactive action, and Foursquare is the reactive action.  They are two halves to a whole.

So it only makes sense to bring the two together.

Imagine this: you make a reservation on OpenTable for your favorite restaurant worth 100 points.  When you get to the restaurant, you tell the host or hostess that you are there to redeem your 100 points.  But it doesn’t stop there.  You then check-in on Foursquare, sharing with your network of friends.  You get some bonus points.  Then you share on Facebook, Twitter or both and you get even more points.  But why does this matter?

OpenTable builds the app.

OpenTable would need to be the one to create the app to connect with Foursquare.  But why would they bother when they already rule the online reservation space?  And they already have millions of people using their services.  For every hundred points on OpenTable, you earn $1 in dining credit.  After you get 2,000 points, they will send a $20 gift certificate.  The only way to get points is to make a reservation, and it is a very private, intimate experience.  The only people who know about the reservation are the customer, merchant and OpenTable.

But if you could get more points by checking in on Foursquare, tweeting out the check-in and posting on Facebook, your friends would see the benefits of OpenTable.  OpenTable makes it easier to make a reservation without calling many restaurants.  And by checking in, tweeting or posting, you are endorsing OpenTable’s service.  The lazy tweets or posts would give credit to OpenTable while also spreading the world about the service.  The tweets and posts could even lead to a landing page that encourages visitors to immediately sign up for an OpenTable account, make your first reservation and download the mobile app.

Currently, when someone makes a reservation, OpenTable gets a lot of data about what a person’s dining habits are: what type of food someone likes, what restaurants they like more than others, what areas of a city a person frequents the most etc.  But there may be more than one OpenTable user present when the reservation is made, but the data is only recorded for the person who made the reservation.  Connecting Foursquare and being able to show how many OpenTable members are at a dinner can help them gather data and even make it more accurate.

OpenTable will also figure out the habits of its members by seeing where they are checking in on Foursquare when they don’t have OpenTable reservations.  OpenTable can use this data to sign on new restaurants that are popular to its members.

Customers can get extra points.

Why would customers be interested in this app?  Well they benefit by getting more points.  Instead of simply getting 100 points for a reservation, they can now get points much faster.  And they become advocates for the restaurant which will not go unnoticed.

Merchants will gain brand advocates.

Why would the restaurants be interested in this app?  Instead of having the private interaction with their customers by using OpenTable, they will now have customers who are broadcasting to their social networks that they have gone to a particular restaurant.  The amount of referrals will drastically increase.

So OpenTable, what do you think?

P.S. Foursquare could benefit from this too.  People complain about their points not meaning anything, right?  And they will not have more access to OpenTable’s millions of customers!  Seems like it could work for both parties…

A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

5 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Black Friday

There are two things that people do on Black Friday: get all your Christmas shopping done or hide in your home to avoid the crowds.  But for those who take advantage of the deals that kick off the holiday season, here are a few mobile apps that will help you identify where the deals are and even avoid the long lines at check-out.

Old Navy’s Snap Appy

Old Navy took their app to the next level and placed Old Navy logos around the store that are scannable. Once you scan them, you can unlock discounts and other surprises.  But even before you set food in the store, you can peruse through some of their most popular styles and upload some of your own once you get in the store.  And if a store runs out of a particular style or size, which can often happen on Black Friday, you can order it online right from your phone.

Fatwallet.com’s Black Friday

On Black Friday, shoppers are overloaded with thousands of choices from hundreds of stores. But the problem is, how do you decide who has the best deal?  Where do you get your new TV or toys for your kids?  This app sorts your choices by store or categories and even allows you to add filters to make your search easier such as brand, price, free shipping eligibity, and whether or not it is a door buster.  Before braving the hectic malls, this app prepares you to use your time wisely.

Amazon Deals

Whenever you are about to make a purchase, you cannot help but think, “Can I get this cheaper?  And with free shipping on Amazon?”  Even though there is an Amazon app, the Amazon Deals apps works especially well for Black Friday to track deals that are running out. Many stores will only have certain details in the early hours of the morning.  Instead of running to your nearest Best Buy to get the latest electronic and an even lower rate, Amazon Deals helps you pinpoint the discounts and purchase online.

ToysRUs

ToysRUs is notorious for its’ success, crowded lines, and sales on Black Friday.  This store will even open on Thanksgiving before the start of Black Friday just to handle the influx of people looking to purchase toys.  The app is vital for anyone who has to buy for a child.  The app lets you search by keyword or item, check out daily and weekly ads, and highlights the top sellers and new arrivals.  And the best part?  You can buy right from the app and avoid the store completely.

tgiBlackFriday

Though similar to Fatwallet.com’s app, this app will help you keep track of the deals you want to capitalize on.  Once again, you can search by store or categories, but the app shows you how many deals are available at each place and allows you to add items to a list.  Come Black Friday, you can knock out all your purchases much quicker and be aware of all the available details.

What are your plans for Black Friday?

50 Reasons I Love My iPhone

  1. When I tell Siri I love her, she tells me “You are the wind beneath my wings.”
  2. The battery life is a champ.  I don’t need to charge it all day long like I did with my Android.
  3. I can move and delete my apps effortlessly.
  4. The camera is incredible.
  5. There’s an app for that. It’s actually true.
  6. I FINALLY have access to the “iPhone only” apps.
  7. I can group my apps into categories (love this about Apple).
  8. Find my iPhone. Need I say more?
  9. It is simple connecting to wifi.
  10. The GPS is 1000x better than my old Android GPS.
  11. When I type in a contact’s name, it pops up immediately (definitely did not have that on my last phone – the delay was very long).
  12. iMessage is AWESOME.  Such an easy way to talk to other iPhone users.
  13. Auto correct is REALLY good (it even knows to capitalize the “S” in HubSpot).
  14. Pocket MBTA – it actually tells me exactly how long it will take until the next bus arrives.
  15. It’s white. I’m a sucker for white phones.
  16. It syncs with my iPad and Mac. Thank you Apple; thank you iCloud.
  17. Privacy. Every time I have to open the App Store, it asks for my password. I like that I am the only one who will be able to download apps.
  18. The QR code scanner works.
  19. All it takes to clear my apps is double clicking the home button and deleting the apps currently running.
  20. All it takes to mute my phone is clicking a button. Literally one button.
  21. You can record much longer videos.
  22. All the Apple cords are the same to charge my devices.
  23. Getting the iPhone makes me look like this: 
  24. I get to have a Timeline that looks like this: 
  25. Facetime. I absolutely love Facetime.
  26. I have a camera on both sides.
  27. My apps don’t have to “force close” constantly.
  28. Downloading more apps doesn’t make it slower.
  29. If something happens to my phone, Apple Care will give me a new phone for $49.
  30. Posting pictures right to Twitter ACTUALLY works.  (Note the pattern of things ACTUALLY working on the iPhone)
  31. The phone automatically shows my updates.
  32. Siri recognizes my location and will tell me places that are nearby.
  33. Siri knows me by name.
  34. The notifications for Twitter come immediately.
  35. Streaming videos on YouTube is quick and easy.
  36. Flixster will find movies near me by location.
  37. I will get Foursquare updates before the Android and Blackberry users.
  38. My phone’s apps are sleek and organized.
  39. The games I paid for on the iPad are now on my iPhone.
  40. I’m finally part of the cool kids club (by having an iPhone).
  41. Deleting emails takes a second and does not have any delay.
  42. I can put as many accounts as I want in my apps.
  43. Siri can easily bring up my schedule for each day.
  44. I can simply tell Siri to text someone, give her the message and it sends.
  45. Running one app doesn’t kill my battery.
  46. I have many choices for accessories and apps.
  47. When I have notifications and my screen is locked, I can swipe the app icon across the screen to immediately go to that app.
  48. I have a pull down on the phone of all my notifications.
  49. When I pay for an app, it is worth the money.
  50. Did I mention I’m REALLY excited about having an iPhone?
What’s your favorite part?  Have any unboxing videos to share?