All things come to an end. At least this is what people think and this is exactly what happened with Social Whale. We are very sad to make this announcement but as it looks there is no alternative option at the moment.
How our little story started
We’ve started back in 2008 with the vision of creating a complete social media client. In fact we were just creating a product for ourselves but as it seemed many people liked it. This way we became a team very fast and Social Whale transformed from a pet project to a full time business for everyone involved.
The experience was fantastic. We were one of the first tools that added so many networks, we were picked up by geek VIPs, we won a few contests and in general our little team from Greece was ready to reach the skies. But…
We’ve failed. Many many times
And failure was fantastic too. We’ve learned so many things, and as people were still loving us after each and every of those failures we were happy. And we were keep going, and we were keep on failing.
But finally we understood that we had to stop chasing this vision. At least for the time being. After all it’s all about the team, not the product. And some times you need to let go.
Below are the main reasons we finally shut down the service:
1. Startups need a lot of money
Keeping a team of great talented people requires money. Of course we had no problem sacrificing anything in order to keep our vision alive, but after a point it was obvious that Social Whale would never had the chance to bootstrap and take care of our financial issues. On the other hand raising funds for a crazy idea like this is very hard, especially in a place like Greece.
2. The “open web” is old news
Since the last years an observer of the big social media players can see that all the openness that created monsters like Twitter and Facebook is fading away.
Suits now need money so everyone is closing their platform in order to make some. We really hope that this trend will stop when social networks find a way to monetize their growth, or maybe when other networks emerge that deal with the problem. But until then we can’t risk our efforts.
We are really sad that Twitter actually banned clients, social backup services and in general they are restricting access to their API. This is a reality that should keep every cool team out of their ecosystem.
3. Startups are about the people who create them
The ultimate lesson we got from this experience was the importance of our team. We really like working on cool things that can help people, and in order to do that we need to… well exist. So we decided to start another product that can actually have some impact, and in the same time help us have our costs covered.
It was a fantastic journey. We really feel grateful to all those people who have supported us, and we hope we can do something with our beloved whale later.
Kind of a sad story, but we should keep in mind that the end of something is usually the beginning of something else
VentureGeeks is expanding and we need more people to join us. If you are an extremely talented web developer and you want to participate in the creation of very cool products, we really really want to talk with you.
Most of us work in Thessaloniki, Greece, but location in general is not a problem. Of course, we would like to meet you in person from times to times. The hours that you work is not a problem as well, as long as you can deliver your part in time.
Here are a few tools and technologies we use. We will appreciate if you have some experience on those:
MySQL w/ replication, Memcache, Redis, MongoDB
Frameworks like CodeIgniter, Kohana and Yii
Before you apply please take a moment and think that we are not a typical business. We are a family, and we only like super geeks to join us. The web is not a job for us, it’s our passion. So if you are not into this kind of spirit please don’t bother applying.
If you believe that you can fit, just drop us a line with a few words about you. CVs are welcome too, but we probably won’t read them. Also make sure to send us code samples or links to your github and other social accounts.
If you want to promote your digital product, but you don’t necessarily wish to pay further financial burdens… There are certainly other alternatives out there.
It took us a six-month period dealing with our costumers’ high expectations and finally we are pleased to announce the release of the brand new Instabuck.
After examining our costumers’ feedback about the initial release of our product, we decided to improve it with an array of key changes in the way things work. The main purpose of this release is to create a product even simpler to use, to provide a tool to the indie publisher that will make a difference.
So, what’s new?
Let’s start with the basics. The new service focused on the easiest usage from our costumer has many improvements in the user interface. Apart from removing any unnecessary things, we’ve added some helpful material.
Those are good news, but the real important thing about this release is our new payment system. The solution introduced makes our publishers free from paying a cut of their sales as they would do with our competitors. Another important thing is that you don’t have any obligation to pay us when you don’t sell. So with those in mind we invented the unlimited free trial.
So what this unlimited free trial is?
Actually, it is our way to help you start your digital product business. Create as many products as you want, use the service for as much as you want, and you will pay us only if the threshold of 3 sales in a month is exceeded. For each month that you have less than 3 sales you pay nothing. Fair enough, isn’t it?
This release is just the beginning focusing on the creation of a solid base for a product that really helps indie publishers.
We have never posted something “geeky” in this blog, so we thought it would be a good start to post some code.
As part of our WordPress optimization and hosting business(more on that on a later post) we needed a better way to debug WP. We found just code pieces, including this great post which was actually the inspiration for this plugin. Another finding was a plugin being sold, which is kind of lame if you think that you just combine a couple of open source libraries. Anyway here it is:
Developer monitor plugin
The plugin is displaying several debugging information through the Firebug console using the FirePHP library.
Bellow is a list of data you can get by its default configuration:
Database queries information
Of course you can always add more information. The plugin is suitable for production servers as you can choose which user group will actually get its output.
In case you do something which can be useful to others as well, please don’t hesitate to contribute some code to the project.
Last Saturday i’ve attended TEDxThessaloniki and as a member of the team organizing the event, I had the chance to get to know the speakers. It was a great experience, for sure. Here, I will try to share a few highlights without talking about the event, as you may already know how awesome it was.
At Friday night I went to the airport to pick up Thomas Sedlacek, one of the greatest economists of our time according to the Yale Economic Review. What is special about this guy is that he is not afraid to be wrong. I guess that’s a quality of a genius. We were talking about economics and he was taking notes even of my ignorant ideas. Another amazing thing about this guy, besides the amount of beer he can drink, is how much he doesn’t care about the status quo. This is actually the spirit of an innovator.
On the other hand, Eric is a guy with striking similarities to me. He is a geek and entrepreneur, a person that actually made a dream I also have, come true. His startup got funded by prominent investors in the Valley while his team still resides in Greece. A kind of attitude would be expected with such a tremendous success, especially in a country like Greece. To be honest, I was so wrong. Eric treated me like I was the genius and he was trying to advise and help me in different ways.
Those two short stories have something in common. Geniuses have long ago killed their egos and that’s exactly the way to make breakthroughs. Get over your self and focus on your passion. Sounds like a cool way to make the world a better place, don’t you think?
We are so happy to announce the release of our new product Instabuck, a tool that will let you sell digital products like ebooks, designs, etc. in a very fast and easy way.
Before the release notes, I would like to share with our fellow readers (that’s you) the story behind this project. As you may know, VentureGeeks is a very small team, and even though we’ve started with some funds we are constantly searching for new ways to bootstrap our business.
So we had a few ideas, but not enough time to develop them, and even though we were looking into the lean startup methodology we couldn’t find a solution. The “eureka moment” came when I saw this post from Noah Kagan, which was a great inspiration and even though we haven’t entered the contest we learned a lot.
So what’s Instabuck about?
The outcome of all this research is Instabuck, our first real attempt to a lean startup. The purpose of this service is actually simple to understand: we want to enable anyone with a downloadable product to sell it instantly.
This is something we are doing for years (selling information products) and even though we’ve started a business like that many times, we still need a lot of time to launch a new product. Well not any more
So our first attempt to create a lean startup, is actually a service that you can use to launch lean startups (interesting huh?)
Here are some key features:
It takes just a few minutes to launch a product
Instant payments in your PayPal, AlertPay or Clickbank account
Download protection (only buyers are able to download your products)
Real time sales analytics with graphs
Google analytics integration
But we are going to add more soon, like A/B split testing for your landing pages, iPhone app with push notifications for sales, more payment processors like LibertyReserve, 2checkout and more. Some of these features are already under development so expect an update very soon.
We hope you will find this service as useful as we do. Now please go on and test it with your own products, after all it’s free for a few days, and let us know how do you like it. Any feedback is as always deeply appreciated.
One of the most important aspects of creating web applications for living is the process of brainstorming. The purpose is actually clear and easy to understand. You just have to connect a few minds and help them produce ideas up to a point that they have something common to believe in, something that will provide a solution to a current issue.
The bad side of this process is that you have to start from a common place. Why is that a problem? Let me explain by an example.
Brainstorming as a job (ok a cool job…)
In the past weeks we have actually burnt our brains in order to find out what’s the next step for Social Whale (more on that in a later post) which actually means that we have used all our time for about two weeks in brainstorming sessions.
The need for another way
Aristotle once said “Από ορισμού άρξαστε” which in a free translation means something like “You have to question everything”. So we need fresh innovative ideas or if you prefer a breakthrough idea that can change the world in our eyes.
In open brainstorming sessions, people will try to add pieces to an idea which typically comes from the most experienced person in the field. Which can’t help because there’s already a starting point. What we were looking for was not a starting point though.
So how can I have a fresh idea?
In a nutshell, let the less experienced do the talk. How do you do that? Here is an easy process we found:
Everyone writes down (in an email) a possible solution for the problem.
Using a countdown app (in our case we’ve used Timer for Mac) we keep this for 15 minutes.
Everyone sends the mail to the company’s mail.
We are pitching our idea to the others as we would if we haven’t listened the other pitches.
Start the conversation and find out what works.
This will ensure that we have original ideas from everyone, and this is mandatory. In most cases when someone starts with an idea people tend to use this idea instead of making their owns. And when you need something really new and innovative this should not happen.
The time factor is also very important as we don’t need people to invent something in this process. We just need a simple idea that will lead to the invention and this should be quick.
When we have less experienced or even completely unexperienced people in a brainstorming session like the one I’ve described before, the results are great because their approach is often the way to the solution. This is because completely unexperienced people take the non technical way and focus on the why(s) and the how(s).
Anyway that’s all with the “speedstorming” technique, hope you will like it
As we are expanding our blog network we would like to hire a few copywriters. Our network consists mostly of technology related websites so we need tech savy writers to post about technology, social media, open source and some more specialized articles like tutorials for WordPress and other FOSS technologies.
If you are interested please send us an email with some details about you including a few examples of your work. Our email address is email@example.com.
This is the first post on our company’s blog and I am very happy that I can share this with you as this is something we are working on for several months now. VentureGeeks is finally here, a new web site network that promises to deliver better web sites. I wont get into details here, but if you want to learn more about this new venture you can visit our web site or our social accounts at Facebook and Twitter.
Aside VentureGeeks, there are more good news to share. Today our main property Social Whale is announced as one of the 8 finalists for the Vodafone Appstar competition. This competition is about mobile widgets for the JIL platform and for us it is a great way to expose the quality of our team.
In this final phase of the competition people from all around the world can vote for their favorite apps, so feel free to vote for us here. Bellow you can see the video presentation of our widget in case that you can’t use it in your phone: