May I help you grow your business with powerful internet marketing tactics?

Yes, this is an advertisement.

It’s an invitation for you to bring your startup company to the new Provo Labs Academy, where you will learn dozens of important internet marketing tactics that can help you find more success for your business.

In September, a new office building will open in Provo with space for dozens of small startup companies. It is adjacent to BYU on Ninth East, across from the Creamery on Ninth. If you like the BYU Dairy chocolate milk (best tasting in the world) you will love moving your small business into our new space.

For as little as $200 per month, you can join the Provo Labs Academy and learn all about growing your business through internet marketing. I will be drawing on 10 years of personal experience (including what I learned at MyFamily.com and 10x Marketing) and hundreds of case studies to teach you dozens of tactics on how to get your web site noticed and build up your customer base.

You’ll learn about pay-per-click marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, online advertising, affiliate marketing, web site design and development, blogging, using web analytics to improve your conversion rate, customer surveys, online PR, using auctions to generate revenue, viral marketing, how online audio and video can help you succeed, and much, much more. Provo Labs tracks its portfolio companies in 51 important areas. You’ll learn how to make smart choices in each of these areas in order to improve your chances of success.

You may be a BYU or UVSC student preparing your business plan for a competition. Or perhaps you want to start a new company on the side and need just a few hours a day of office space. Or maybe you just want to learn internet marketing skills every week so you can more effectively promote your current company. We may have exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Or, if you need dedicated space so you can work around the clock, we can accomodate you as well.

We’re even offering a chance to win a free one-month membership in the Provo Labs Academy, a $200 value, if you sign up on our web site by August 31st.

Provo Labs has leased the entire 1st floor of this new building and divided it up into small spaces that are ideal for a small startup company. You can sign up for as little as $200 per month: that includes space, desk, computer, phone, high speed internet (using iProvo’s fiber optic network), access to our business library, conference room and break room. And, it includes all the training that the Provo Labs Academy will provide.

I teach internet marketing at BYU and love to help students and entrepreneurs learn online marketing tactics. To help you succeed, I will be inviting dozens of friends and associates who have been incredibly successful in their own internet careers to come to our training meetings and teach you the valueable things they know.

This is a rare opportunity to learn from true experts and to network with other entrepreneurs. We hope the Provo Labs Academy will become a center point of innovation in Utah.

Register for more information and a chance to win your first month free — a $200 value!.

This offer ends soon and space is limited.

End of commercial. Please spread the word. :)

Executive Assistant with HR Experience Needed

A few months ago I wrote a very nice help wanted ad for the local
university paper and got 15 resumes from highly qualified people.

On Monday I wrote another ad, which has already run for 3 days, and I haven’t received a single inquiry.

I have called to revise it, but there is no excuse for a poorly written
ad. I should have kept the earlier version rather than starting over.
The earlier version emphasized the position and pay and “super-flexible
hours”; the later one focused on what the company does. Not smart.

What I’m looking for is a part-time HR manager/Executive Assistant for
Infobase Ventures, my business incubator. I’ll pay $12-15 per hour,
depending on experience. The hours are flexible, although it could lead
to full-time work, and the pay could increase significantly based on
performance. (If I need to pay twice as much to find the unique person
to fill this position, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. :) )

The applicant must be amazing: a highly networked people person who is
also tech savvy. He/she will help me recruit and manage the personnel
in more than a dozen incubated startups / early stage investments over
the next year or two.

There are more details at
http://www.infobaseventures.com/jobs.html.

MyFamily Acquires Heritage Makers

MyFamily.com has acquired Heritage Makers
a company with 1,200 distributors who help families print heritage
books. I remember meeting the company founder years ago when it was
called My Family Tales. [Here's an old article about My Family Tales.] I even have some of their early products.

Chris Lee, one of my favorite people from the early days of
MyFamily.com, is now the GM of this business unit. It will be exciting
to how fast this division will grow. It uses a “party-plan direct
selling business” where distributors set up in-home demonstrations. The
Pampered Chef uses this sales model as do dozens of other successful companies. I just found this Party Plan Directory site that lists many others.

Note: I am no longer involved in MyFamily.com, but am still an interested observer of the genealogy industry.

FundingChina.com

So we decided to launch our first FundingUniverse.com
international web site, and thought we would start with China, since
there seems to be a little economic activity going on over there these
days. :)

FundingChina.com is in
English for now, and it will be a matching service for entrepreneurs
with ideas and angel or VC investors who want to get involved in the
Chinese market. Later, hopefully, we’ll offer Chinese language versions
(although I hear there are over one hundred dialects.)

FundingArizona.com Launched

Okay, so our new web site for Arizona has only 1 registered investor
with $50,000 of available capital so far. That’s not going to change
the world. But guess what is going to happen in the next few months? I
think the number of registered investors and entrepreneurs on FundingArizona
will grow steadily. Arizona has more than twice the population of Utah
and it is also growing rapidly. Eventually, there should be more
investors and more business plans on FundingArizona.com than there are
on FundingUtah.com.

Our FundingUtah.com Alexa chart
is looking better all the time. More importantly, with 92 investors and
$72.8 million in available capital (much of it for early stage
companies), and with at least one angel group using FundingUtah.com as
their source of new deals, this web site has already surpassed our
expectations.

I started a Google Adwords campaign today for FundingArizona.com
and sent out my first email invitation to an investor. Our team will
start contacting angel groups, business schools, and entrepreneurs as
well. If you know investors or entrepreneurs in Arizona, please tell them about our free matching service.

How PR is Helping FundingUtah.com

Many internet entrepreneurs I know (myself included) are pretty content sitting at the computer most of the time doing research and figuring how to generate traffic, improve web site design and conversion rate, and study web analytics to determine what to do next. We use the web for hours a day to do research on what everyone else is doing. Then, relying primarily on email and instant messaging, we can efficiently communicate hundreds of times per day with employees, customers, partners, etc. So why break away from the computer and have a real world event, when using the computer for everything is so efficient?

To generate publicity, for one thing.

One of our recent startups, FundingUtah.com hired a PR firm a couple months ago to help us with a single press release to announce our existence. John Pilmer, head of PilmerPR called me about a week later and suggested that since our business fit in so nicely with Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s economic agenda, that he thought we might be able to attract the Governor to a press conference or launch event. With our permission, John Pilmer started the ball rolling.

Yesterday all the hard work culminated in a wonderful event with about 100 attendees yesterday in Sandy, Utah. We had about 40 angel investors and 50 entrepreneurs in the audience along with a few government and media representatives. The Governor made a great speech about entrepreneurship and economic growth in Utah. We are the 5th fastest growing state in the U.S., we have the youngest population, and the Governor is predicting a boom period because we have such a strong entrepreneurial spirit in this state.

David Bradford, a partner in FundingUtah.com told the story of hearing Jon Huntsman Sr. speak in California 30 years ago just when his styrofoam packaging company was getting under way. 30 years later Huntsman Chemical is one of the largest chemical companies in the world with a $4 billion plus market cap and manufacturing operations in 22 countries.

Today I woke up to find the FundingUtah.com story on the front page of the Deseret News business section. We also got coverage from the Salt Lake Tribune, KSL Radio (you can even hear an audio clip), and other media outlets.

With the coverage today we’ve jumped to 73 investors and $47 million in available capital, and we’ve had many new business plans added today from entrepreneurs who are seeking funding.

I told the audience yesterday that I haven’t seen people gather to see a launch of a web site since about 1994–but this story became newsworthy both because the Governor attended our event and because the site has the potential to help hundreds of Utah startup companies attract capital and create jobs.

The event was even better because we invited the two angel organizations in the state, Utah Angels and Top of Utah Angels (who are holding their first meeting on May 10th) to the party. Utah needs hundreds of active angels to provide fuel to the fire of innovation and talent that already exists in the state.

If you know any high net worth individuals who aren’t putting their money to use to grow our economy and make dreams come true, invite them to check out FundingUtah.com.

And remind them of this quote by Brigham Young, Utah’s first Territorial Governor:

A man has no right with property, which, according to the laws of the land, legally belongs to him, if he does not want to use it; he ought to possess no more than he can put to usury, and cause to do good to himself and his fellow man. When will a man accumulate money enough to justify him in salting it down, or, in other words, laying it away in the chest, to lock it up, there to lie, doing no manner of good either to himself or his neighbor? It is impossible for a man ever to do it. No man should keep money or property by him that he cannot put to usury for the advancement of that property in value or amount, and for the good of the community in which he lives; if he does, it becomes a dead weight upon him.

Idea Stage Startup Funding

I frequently complain about the lack of idea or seed stage funding available for Utah entrepreneurs. Sometimes, especially in the open source software era, and in era of internet marketing, a venture can be started with just a few thousand dollars. (FundingUtah.com cost only $2,000 to launch phase I. We’re now finishing phase II and working on a couple possible revenue streams. We also own 70 more domains, so that if this site works in Utah, we may roll it out elsewhere. We already have more than 100 entrepreneurs and 49 angels signed up, representing almost $30 million in available funds.) There has never been a better time in history to start a company.

Phil Windley blogged this week about a program back east called Summer Founders. He said he wished we had something like that in Utah. I checked it out and it looks way cool. Back in Cambridge, MA there are 4 guys who have started a seed stage fund called Y Combinator. Their summer program is designed to provide seed capital to entrepreneurs (hackers mainly) who might be able to make a go of a company if they had a little financial support.

But Phil, we have Junto here in Utah, thanks to Greg Warnock.

I think Junto is structurally superior to the very laid back Summer Founders program. You end up with a team of five who are committed and incentivized to help each other succeed, each with their startup company. I attended a Firepoll advisory board meeting today with Greg and the five Junto entrepreneurs (and Craig Bott from Grow Utah Ventures, a $5 million private VC fund). There is a lot of energy there and I think we’ll see some great entrepreneurial developments coming from these groups. I applaud Greg for his vision and his willingness to teach young college grads to take the entrepreneurial path.

Worldhistory.com Adds Vertical Search to A9

Worldhistory.com is now one of 60 vertical search engine choices listed at A9. We learned about A9’s invitation to “vertical search engines” to provide their search results to A9 users just yesterday. Last night our search engine developer did the integration, making our timeline database available to potentially millions of A9 users. I love the speed of internet business.

Fastest Growth Sites Are Built on User Generated Content

One of the most powerful ways to develop web site traffic is to enable your users to share their content through your web site with others–to create community around user generated content.

Many of the fastest growing web sites of all time did this (or do it now): MyFamily.com, eBay, GeoCities, Xoom, Homestead, MySpace, Epinions, Hotshots, LinkedIn.com, Meetup.com, Friendster, and more.

A recent company which admits they stumbled into this user generated content model is Flickr. Flickr is a phenomenal photo sharing site. Check out its traffic growth on Alexa. With no marketing dollars it has become one of the fastest growing sites in 2004. Read this great interview with its founders in Fast Company.

There were many super fast growth photo sharing sites in the late 90’s. Some were acquired; some went out of business. At MyFamily.com we had tens of millions of photos from our users but these photos were not public–so we didn’t get the kind of “free traffic” effect that comes when search engines indexes all this content.

But we did get this effect on Ancestry.com where we hosted enormous amounts of genealogical content submitted by our users. Our message boards had more than 10 million posts and our Ancestry World Tree with more than 350,000,000 submitted names was among our most popular databases.

When I advise companies on fast growth strategies, I tell them that to survive you have to have a real business model but to thrive you should also take a page out of the 90s playbook: create a user generated content strategy that is related to your business.

I don’t have time to give specifics right now, but imagine getting your customers to blog, use message boards, upload photos or reviews

With open source software (for message boards, blogs, uploading photos, and more) and with the cost of hard drive storage a tiny fraction of what it was five years ago, the time has never been better to try a user generated content strategy.

One of our companies, iCount.com will embark in the next few weeks on a user generated content and social networking strategy in the political arena which I hope will give it a place in the fast growth companies I’ve listed above. In a few weeks or monthly I’ll tell you how this goes and what lessons we have learned.