I just returned from 7 days in Europe. Thanks to LinkedIn Answers, I probably saved $1,000 on airfare on this trip by taking the advice of some of my connections who are more experienced last-minute travellers. (I've joked that with all this great advice, I could publish an ebook on last minute European travel and probably sell it for $10 on our ebook site.)
Utah is a very friendly state for startup companies. It ranks in the top few states for entrepreneurship. We have a great economic environment, a well educated work force, and a very growth-oriented governor. Plus, we have FundingUniverse.com, headquartered right here in Utah. FundingUniverse.com and Grow Utah Ventures will select five entrepreneurs to present their business plans on March 22nd at Governor Huntsman's Economic Summit, in front of a live audience at Grand America Hotel (the finest hotel in Salt Lake City.) The audience will include angel investors from nearly every angel group in Utah. And the winning entrepreneur will receive an investment of up to $100,000 from these angels.
Internet entrepreneurs who study web analytics can find excuses all the time to celebrate small victories and large. Yesterday we had another one. World Vital Records had its highest page views ever yesterday with 58,398. Our previous high was 43,828. As we add more and more content to our site (and all our new databases are free for 10 days), we will continue to generate buzz (14 mentions in the blogosphere yesterday) and more visitors. Our subscriber count continues to grow as well.
World Vital Records officially launched its affiliate program this week with the most generous commissions in the genealogy industry. I believe we are the first genealogy company to offer recurring revenue for affiliates when a subscriber renews their subscription. I know that many genealogy affiliates have wanted this for a long time. Here are the details from Brad Pace, who manages our new genealogy affiliate program.
After some wonderful time off with my family, I regretfully went back to work yesterday with one of those feelings of being completely overwhelmed -- there are so many hundreds of things on my to-do list and so many dozens of things to blog about. I know I'll never catch up so I won't even try. One of my main New Year's Resolutions is to not get behind on email. Last year I ended the year with about 1,700 "unread" messages in my inbox. The problem is that I had read many (maybe even most) of them on my Blackberry, but they didn't show up in gmail as having been read. It is frustrating to occasionally use my Desktop email only and to see so many unread messages that you know you can't even make a dent in them. And trying to remember which ones you've already read is also frustrating.
FundingUniverse.com now has about 1,000 angel investors in virtually every state. The company, which I helped found in early 2005, is holding its 5th speedpitching event today in Sandy, Utah. It has held events in 6 or more states and has plans to continue to expand. I've attended several of these events representing the small fund we have at Provo Labs, as a potential investor. The coaching and practice sessions have been extremely helpful. Imagine trying to get your entire business plan onto a 1-page summary that will be distributed. And then imagine being forced to tell your story in 4 minutes. That's what all the entrepreneurs learn how to do. After the 4 minute pitch, the investors get 3 minutes for Q&A. Then you go to the next table and give your pitch again. You do this 5 times before lunch, and then 5 times after lunch.
Our friends at TagJungle have launched a working blog search website at TagJungle.com. I like the implementation a lot. Phil Burns blogged last month about the leadup to the launch. It's nice to see a Web 2.0 company launch in Utah with a very different approach to searching the blogosphere than anyone else. I like the TagJungle Alexa chart, which is showing about 18,000 for today.
This isn't new news--it happened on November 1st. Investors Business Daily published a nice article on MyFamily.com, and revealed that according to CEO Tim Sullivan, 2006 revenues will hit $150 million with an EBIDTA of $28 million. After being under the radar for several years, it's nice to see MyFamily getting some decent media attention recently. I think the CEO is doing a good job at telling the story. Here's another impressive excerpt from the article:
World Vital Records is starting to advertise for a BYU accounting student with bookkeeping experience to do payroll, A/R, A/P, and and prepare our monthly financial statements. This will be part time, perhaps 20 hours per week. World Vital Records is also looking for BYU students or others with family history experience who are native speakers of any foreign language. Call the office (377-0588) and ask for Yvette if you are interested in learning more.