Thursday, June 28, 2012

    New Grad Job Search Tips: My Guest Posts on StudentAdisor and CollegeAftermath

    Recently, I wrote two guest posts giving the class of 2012 a few tips on how to find a job.  Times are tough right now and many of my friends who are new graduates are competing not only against each other, but other more experienced workers who have been let go in the economic downturn.  Below are my two guest posts on Student Advisor and CollegeAftermath giving some tips on how to standout from the very large pack.  Hopefully they will be of some help to my fellow classmates.    

    Click on the links to read more:

    StudentAdvisor (A Washington Post Company)
    1. Work an Internship
    2. Look in non-traditional places
    3. Build a non-traditional resume
    4. Ask for help
    5. Take your search to the recruiter

    (Rehash of the StudentAdvisor post but added in new idea on #5)
    1) Apply for an Internship
    2) Leave no stone unturned
    3) Fully Utilize the Digital Resume
    4) Network
    5) Quality over quantity
    6) Get in front of the recruiter

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Takeaways from Startup Weekend San Diego #SWSD

    Last week, was San Diego's 4th Startup Weekend, here are my thoughts on the event as part of the organizing team.

    Organizing the event

    The organizing team was decently sized and that meant the workload ended up being very manageable.  Though, I kind of wished I had taken on more responsibility.  Nonetheless, organizing SWSD was an incredibly rewarding experience.  It helped that the attendees were incredibly appreciative of the organizing team.  On Sunday night after SWSD wrapped up, we joined some of the attendees at the bar and when we entered through the door they gave us a round of applause!  That one moment made all the hard work and fatigue worth it.

    Friday pitches

    As much as I tried to, I could not like the pitches on Friday night. After witnessing the originality of the pitches from Startup Weekend Santa Barbara, the San Diego pitches just seemed stale.  Most of the ideas pitched seemed to be minor variations on already well established products.

    Inside the judges room

    I found myself disagreeing with the judges on the winners.  Aside from GeoContractor, an app for contractors to keep track of where their workers and materials are, I thought the judges really missed the boat.  The first place winner Remix Replay was a website to create web games via a drag and drop interface.  According to the judges, Remix Replay was not ready to immediately go to market judging by the demo presented, in addition, it had no clear monetization strategy.  This made it all the more surprising, when the judges selected Remix Replay for first place over GeoContractor, when GeoContractor's product was at the same stage but had a clear monetization plan for the huge contractor market.

    Qualcomm ContextBeta SDK Winners

    On the other hand, I completely agreed with the selection of Breadcrumbs for the first place ContextBeta SDK prize.  This smartphone app which tracks a users movement throughout the day and then breaks that data down into easily understood and relevant chunks, fits well with the growing trend of quantified self.  Its monetization strategy also fits well with the trend of localization of ads.  The data that Breadcrumbs would have access to such as when and where a user is, as well as how long he is going to stay there and where he is going to go next would be extremely valuable to an advertiser.


    SWSD did not start off strong, but it certainly made a good showing in the end.  There were a couple of products such as GeoContractor, Breadcrumbs and Backdropp that I would love to try.  However, after Santa Barbara, I must say that San Diego has some serious catching up to do.  

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    Startup Weekend San Diego #SWSD: Competing Teams and Winners

    Startup Weekend San Diego (SWSD) was just last week and I was part of the organizing team.  

    Below are the winners as well as a list of the teams that formed:

    SWSD Winners

    1st place: RemixReplay
    2nd place: GeoConstructor
    3rd place: StokeBox

    Crowd Favorite: CollegeGoGo
    Runners-up: GeoConstructor, RemixReplay

    Qualcomm Labs - ContextBeta SDK winners: 

    1st place: Breadcrumbs
    2nd place: GeoConstructor
    3rd place: SafeAlert

    Competing teams:

    Startup company building a system to save us all from parking tickets.

    Stoke Box
    An online community of parents that matches members based on what they have and what they need.

    People Are Waiting
    Communicate effectively with latecomers to meetings and quickly decide if you should start without them, reschedule, or wait.

    A service that provides alerts of a crime that are taking place in the vicinity in real time, so that you can stay away from the location of crime.

    Digg based event posting community.

    Automatically locates employees and subcontractors for Construction General Contractors and Developers. Automatically checks them in and out of job sites and hardware stores. Allows workers to establish lists of supplies to pick up, and automatically pops up this list when the worker enters the geolocation. 

    Tour Me
    Location-aware mobile app platform for cultural institutions.

    A geotag solution to location scouting for the creative community.
    Backdropp allows the user to pin a cool location on the map, attach a photo of the point of interest and write a short description. Our geotag system alerts other users when they are in the vicinity of that backdrop so they can check it out and utilize that backdrop for photo shoots or location scouting.

    Breadcrumbs TBD
    Working with geo fence technology.

    College Go Go 
    A college registry site and app for students. 

    TravelShot is an interactive travel photo journal and social network.  While traveling, TravelShot allows you to snap a photo and upload it to a personalized size that tracks your travels on a visual map filled with the photos you've taken along the way.  TravelShot is integrated with Facebook and Twitter to send out updates to your friends and family every time you post an update.  When you get home, you instantly have an interactive photo gallery of your travels.
    Making the creation of online memorials easy for the bereaved.

    Remix Replay
    To create a web app that allows users to make personalized computer games. No programming skills required.

    A Jetshare Community

    Sunday, June 24, 2012

    Financial Horizons Marketing Campaign: Ideas and improvements for next year

    A list things that would make next year's marketing campaign much better.

    Increase Extra Credit Pitches

    Extra credit has shown to be the best driver of attendance.  An email should be sent to every economics professor teaching that quarter asking them to offer extra credit for attending the conference.  This assumption is not supported by data, but I believe classes that offered extra credit had over 50% of their students attend the conference.

    Flyers With Slogans

    No Slogan!
    The reason we did not have the slogans on it this year was because we had to rush printing.  The flyer designer and director of marketing should be working closely together on the flyer.  The flyer design, which also becomes the face of the conference should be fully integrated into the marketing campaign.  

    Study Party/Promotional Event 

    Students in the same classes tend to only gather together right before an exam.  In order to take advantage of that, UIS should work with economics TA's to organize a study party the day before a midterm.  UIS should treat these study parties as promotional events and use its marketing budget to provide free food, caffeine and T-shirts.  The combined force of TA's and free stuff should draw a significant group of economic students to these study parties. A conference pitch directed at this captive audience should play to the fact that many students do not know how what they are studying will help them in the future.  Essentially, the conference pitch should say something like "Don't know how this stuff will help you in your life? Come to the conference and find out."

    Display Case 

    There are many display cases that student organizations can reserve all over the Price Center, but there is only one that matters.  The display case that is in the hallway that connects Price Center East with Price Center West is possibly the most highly trafficked path in the whole school.  Putting an eye catching display, or even plastering the case of with flyers would greatly increase awareness of the conference.

    Saturday, June 23, 2012

    Financial Horizons Marketing Campaign: Results and Conclusions

    Here are the results of the marketing campaign from analyzing the registration data.

    Background on Attendees



    As expected, the large majority of attendees were from UC San Diego.  Economics and business majors made up 71% of attendees, which raises the question should UIS continue to target economics students or expand out into other majors?  I believe that with over 6000 students that enroll in economics courses every quarter at UCSD, there is still a lot of low hanging fruit to be picked.  The next marketing campaign should focus almost entirely on economic students, as fewer than 10% students taking economics classes are registering for the conference.  

    What worked?


    Flyering and chalk boarding which were the two most most labor intensive methods produced the worst results, reaching a combined 8% of attendees.  On the other hand, the least labor intensive marketing methods econ blog, in class pitches and social media were three to six times more effective.

    Word of mouth through friends was the surprise leader in how attendees heard about the conference.  This makes me think the next campaign should focus on soundbites and something that encourages attendees to bring friends, such as "bring a friend get X free" type promotion.

    Though this graph is informative, I believe that it underestimates the value of flyering and chalkboarding.  I have a nagging suspicion that there would have been fewer people who heard about it from friends had the campus not been covered in flyers.  There is a chance that flyering and chalkboarding serve as reinforcement to the more popular methods, for example a student hears about the conference from a friend and then is reminded to register upon seeing a flyer.  That kind of value that chalkboarding and flyering brings would not be reflected in this graph.

    Facebook Ads


    hedge funds

    Overall, Facebook ads were dismal.  With over 6000 people seeing the ads, only 6 of them clicked.  Out of the 7 ads that I ran, the one titled "Hedge Funds @ UCSD" did the best, and by best I mean it got all the clicks.  The success of  the "Hedge Funds" ad suggests that more mainstream finance terms are the key to targeting students.

    Currently, there is a debate raging about the effectiveness of Facebook ads. My dismal results has pushed me towards the "not effective" side of the debate.   There is a very real possibility that my generation, which grew up with banner ads, have learned to completely tune them out.  WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg is definitely onto something when he said that the display advertising model is broken and in-stream advertising is the future.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012

    Letter to the Editors of City on a Hill Press

    I wrote this letter to the editor for a recent PR campaign at InternMatch.  It did not get picked up by the newspaper, but I spent so much time and effort on this piece that I figure I might as well show it on the blog.  I think it's a good piece of writing in general, but as a letter to the editor, it does not respond to the articles listed enough.  Something to remember for the next PR campaign.  

    Dear editors and graduating readers of City on a Hill Press,

    While doing research for my internship at InternMatch, I came upon two articles published a year ago: She’s Moving Home After Living Alone (May 26 2011) by Rosie Spinks and Dreams of Luxury, Not Necessity (March 3 2011) by Asa Hess-Matusimoto.  These articles shocked me because even a year later, I found them to be still relevant.

    Over the past couple of months, there has been a lot of good news in regards to the employment prospects of the class of 2012.  US unemployment is said to have dropped for the second straight month, and the National Association of Colleges and Employers predicts a 10.2% increase in the hiring of college graduates compared to 2011.  

    Recently, InternMatch surveyed over 10,000 seniors which resulted in some alarming statistics:
    1. 82.0% of upcoming graduates have not secured a job for after graduation
    2. 81.9% of those who secured jobs completed at least 1 internship
    3. 54.9% of seniors have looked/been looking for a job for 3 months or more
    4. 43.9% of upcoming graduates are planning to move back in with their parents
    Troublingly, students who did more internships did not significantly increase their odds of landing a full time job.  

    This leads me to wonder who is feeling the impact of the positive statistics?  Certainly, not my fellow graduating seniors at UC San Diego, who been frantically searching for months.  The class of 2012 needs to realize that even though we may perhaps be a little better off than the class of 2011, the employment situation is still terrible and that our parents' era of guaranteed employment with a diploma is truly over.     

    A new mind set is needed to succeed in this new age of increased competition.  The class of 2012 needs to not just look for full time jobs after graduation but be open to working internships as well.  Even the White House has realized that the times have changed when it launched the Summer Jobs+ initiative to place new graduates in internships rather than jobs.  Filling out job applications is no longer going to cut it, networking and other non-traditional channels is how the class of 2012 is going to find its first job.
    Basically, it’s now more important than ever to get your hustle on.

    Jonathan Lau
    UC San Diego
    Class of 2012

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Startup Weekend Santa Barbara - Winners and Takeaways

    Startup Weekend Santa Barbara Winners

    Grand Prize: 
    Chirp - Shazam for bird songs.  Use the app the identify what bird is singing that song you are hearing.

    Best Market Validation: 
    Text Connect - Event/venue specific text roulette.  Text the provided number and get paired into a text conversation with others near you.

    Best Business Model: 
    Simple Submit - A site that walks you through the documentation necessary to get a mortgage.

    Best of Santa Barbara: 
    Best and Bogus - Take videos of the best and worst things in your community.  Get the community to give praise where it is due and fix what is broken.

    Best Mobile: 
    Artful - Shazam for art.  Use the app to identify a piece of art and get information on it as well as a link to buy the print.

    Audience Choice: 
    Goal Stoke - Compete with others to lose weight and earn money.


    The pitches on Friday absolutely blew me away.  I counted maybe five or so ideas that were clones out of the 54 ideas that were pitched, leading me to believe that Santa Barbara has an abundant supply of originality.  Just when I thought I had heard every single startup idea, things like Artful, Chirp and Text Connect come up.

    Out of the 21 teams that formed, 18 made it to the final pitches.  I am happy to say that my three favorite teams on Friday all won something.  In the judges room, it was a toss up between Artful and Chirp.  Chirp managed to edge out the win because the judges decided it was the most market ready.  Once released to the app store, Chirp would immediately have paying customers, versus Artful which was reliant on gallery owners and museums adopting the system and then uploading their art pieces to the system in order for the app to be useful.

    I agreed with the judges' reasoning, but it was a toss up for me as well.  Chirp and Artful both did an excellent job in market validation and put together beautiful look apps.  In terms of amount of work completed, the Artful team impressed me a bit more because they were able to put together a working mobile app.  In the end, I can understand why Chirp won the grand prize and I am just happy that both teams managed to win something.  I am really looking forward to these apps going live and hoping for the chance to beta test them.

    Best and Bogus's win is deserved due to the team's solid market validation, but the product makes me nervous.  Every time the team mentions that their goal is to create a "video army" to fix what is bogus behavior through essentially what is public shaming, I think about China's cultural revolution and how children turned in their parents to the government for "misbehaving." The thought of having to look over my shoulder because a neighbor might be out to catch me doing something "bogus"on video is frightening and sounds like the setting of a dystopian novel.  This was my only gripe about the winners.

    SWSB has really gotten me to rethink my list of hot tech locations.  The winners of SWSB are by far the most promising set of ideas that I have seen come out of ANY Startup Weekend to date.  I believe there is a good chance one of the SWSB winners will become the biggest Startup Weekend success story ever.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    Startup Weekend Santa Barbara: Teams

    Minutes away from final presentations and I am too excited to eat.

    My favorite teams (aka the ones I voted for):


    A Shazam for art, where you take a picture of a piece of art, the app identifies it and then pulls up information it.  This would be amazing for when I go to galleries or museums where often times the only information on a piece of 3x5" sign that lists the title, artist, year and medium.  I always wanted to know the background information or artists thoughts on a piece and maybe in the near future with Artful I can.  

    Chirp It

    A Shazam for birds, basically always know what bird you are listening to.  For me this would be a great novelty app, but for the more serious birdwatchers, I imagine this would be a must have app.  In addition, I snuck a peek at their final pitch deck and apparently the birdwatcher market is huge!  I have no doubt that Chirp It would be a hit in the app store.

    Text Connect

    A chat roulette SMS system where users can text a number that is specific to an event or venue in order to text with others there.  Restaurants and event organizers will be able to text offers to people using the system.  I think this is a great way to meet people at an event, as a text is less intimidating than walking up to a strangers and trying to start a conversation.  Would love to see this live at the next networking event I attend.  

    SWSB Teams List (From most to least number of votes)

    *Teams change their name, dissolve and merge through the weekend, so this is not a final list of those who will be presenting on Sunday.

    iSpot - Airbnb for driveways
    Artful - Shazam for art
    Mortgage Docs - Mortgage tutorial documentation app
    Text Connect - SMS chat roulet: targeted advertising
    Dropzone Management - SAAS for sky diving schools or anything else who has problems coordinating multiple participants

    The Best and Bogus - App to make video army of community members documenting best and worse of the community
    Chirp it - Shazaam for bird calls
    Goal Stoke - Compete against others with losing weights and win money
    Mootcan - Online education information that will help you pass various courses
    Standard Label Plugin - Simple way for people to understand what websites do with their personal data. Personal information nutrition label for web info.

    WebFly - Know what your users are saying online about your brand/product/company
    S Rating - Social rating application for venues
    Creator Up - Online film school using only phone cameras
    Trumigo - Service/app/platform find real friends near you - ECommerce market place for small retailers: showcase work, employ ranking of popularity, matches taste with designer

    FoodQ - Pandora for restaurant recommendations
    ReFuel - Simple process to get tax refund for non public gas use
    Arrive Faster - GPS locator for public transit
    Insta Flip - New mobile ad platform
    Have to Have - Create a wishlist for luxury items and get notified when the items on your list go on sale

    Tahiti System - Business automation system

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Startup Weekend Santa Barbara: Hopes

    It is 30 minutes till the first Startup Weekend in Santa Barbara (SWSB). I have been told that the weekend is close to 100 people showing up, meaning that this is going to be a pretty busy event.

    Why am I here?

    Julian the head organizer of Startup Weekend San Diego is the facilitator for SWSB and he invited the SD organizers to come.  I figure I needed a break from SD and this would be a good excuse to visit a friend in SB who was leaving for Taiwan.  Of course, I am also here to hear product pitches from Santa Barbara's best and brightest.

    What I hope to see:

    There's been a lot of talk about monetizing mobile lately in the wake of the Facebook IPO.  The fact is that the current mobile ads are ugly, intrusive and worst of all have much lower ROI than traditional banner ads.  It would be amazing to see someone pitch an idea that solved this huge problem.  Perhaps a new type of ad network for mobile apps or an app that somehow monetizes in a way that does not use banner ads?

    What I will most likely see:

    Event discovery apps seem to be all the rage these days, there were a couple that even showed up in SWTJ.  This is a huge market and so far nobody has gotten it right.  I reckon that there are going to be more than one pitch about a new way to discover events near you that is going to be local, mobile, social + some other startup cliche.