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This Blog has Moved!!!! November 28, 2007

Posted by thedotcomillusionist in Uncategorized.
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This blog has officially moved to a drupal built blog! Come check me out at http://www.thedotcomillusionist.com

There I plan to continue posting interesting ideas and points for discussion. I’ve also set up a forum section (as I promised) for those who would like to engage in deeper back and forth discussion on idea topics.  I’ve set everything up so that no one needs to sign up in order to participate, so hopefully I won’t be slammed by spambots. In addition, I’ve set it so that only I can currently create forum topics, if anyone would like to help me by suggesting a series of discussion points (General discussion, programming, marketing, advertising), I am all ears. Thanks to everyone for reading and please comment and discuss!


DressYou.com – Giving Social Networking a Fashion Makeover November 26, 2007

Posted by thedotcomillusionist in Startup.
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As we are catapulted into the next generation, there are a few observations that I’ve noted (obviously to the benefit of my argument and business idea) –

  • The Internet gives people the ability to access vast amounts of information faster than two shakes of a kitten’s whiskers.

  • Networking platforms allows us to expand our networking capability beyond any other methods previously capable.

  • Humans are visual creatures. As technology advances, services providing more rich media features that does not sacrifice load time and intuition will win out over those with less media rich features.

  • Despite many of today’s conveniences, people find themselves with less and less time.

Now, I am a big fan of today’s social networking goliath’s, and this idea has the potential to become an opensocial or facebook application, with its already giant membership which could possibly lead to instant success. But for some reason, whether it be my limited knowledge of extending Facebook applications or my selfishness of maximizing revenue by defining my own website architecture, this warrants its own social network.

So lets pick an industry. A non-tech industry will allow us to piggy back on an interest group that may not have necessarily found the Internet to be the most intuitive way to address their interests. I wanted the focus to be on an exciting industry, where innovation and creativity thrives in very many directions and niches, but at the same time, there is a maturity, and there are leading industry players with deep pockets. Advertising is key because product lines are constantly being reinvented to conform to the seasonal trends, therefore, there is a huge budget.

Along comes DressYou.com, a social network with a focus around fashion. Users will be able to connect with friends on a level of engagement previously not available, with the use to avatar technology. In addition, DressYou.com will also serve as a virtual dressing room platform for users to try on clothes online before purchasing.

Every business idea should be focused around a problem and a solution.

  • People will always buy clothes. Packing on some weight, worn out clothes, or just trying to stay on top of your game. But how often do you have the time to go shopping? Even if you do, who wants to go shopping with high school kids or old ladies? (Before you think about asking where I shop, just stop yourself right there). Online shopping is the only other alternative (other than catalog/phone orders, which are so last decade), but how many people do you know that won’t shop online because they are afraid that the clothes won’t fit? DressYou will standardize the sizes so that the clothes will be true to size according to the measurements that you provide.

  • Boutique brands have difficulty marketing their products. Issues with finances or marketing prowess, DressYou.com aims to level the playing field by putting brands side by side.

  • A more personal means to network. Photos are great, and already create a pretty deep level of engagement for users. DressYou intends to bring this to another level, from past to present, from reactive to proactive. Can you see the difference between –

    • You look so professional in that picture!” vs “Looking very professional today, got a meeting?”

    • T-shirt at this time of year? You must have been freezing!” vs “Looks like a cold day today, Hope you brought a coat with you.”

    • That shirt looks so tacky!” vs “That shirt looks so tacky, go home during your lunch and change!”

    DressYou.com users can update their avatar on a daily basis to display what they’re wearing. Hypothetically, a fashionably handicapped boyfriend in New York can be dressed by his girlfriend living in San Francisco. Or a boyfriend can try clothes on his girlfriend’s avatar before purchasing and sending in time for Christmas “Ah, clothes with stripes will help to hide that muffin top.”

Marketing – Most brands have a website by now. But many are unsure about online advertising outside of its own website (or at least the websites that I frequent). I’m certain that the majority of the advertising budget for most of these corporations still go to traditional media channels – print, radio, and television. Even if I do come across a Gap or Abercrombie banner advertisement, I don’t remember, because my mind has been predisposed to overlook useless content. Its not a level of engagement thats convertible, remember? Television commercials are highly visual (visual=engaging) and entertaining if done correctly, but is there an equal on the internet? Sure, put in a picture of a scantily dressed model, and there are enough people (including myself) that may click through to see more pictures, but how many of those impulse clicks will convert?

So, then what will you do to monetize? Focus selling (literally) the service, by the article clothing uploaded in the database, and charge more (eBay style) by bolding some products. Make a featured section, or start out a new user’s avatar in all LRG clothes. Banner advertisements? If people want to spend tons of money to put themselves on every pageview, why not, although the focus should be on the service, not the ads, because putting products in the database for all users is an means to expose your brand through a new channel.

Competitors? There are a ton of competitors, although non are direct. Major online retailers, like Amazon have an ecommerce-type focus. But no avatars. There are services that do some type of variation – Zwinky, Cafe.com, and many more (which leads me to believe that this is a project that will be difficult to accomplish). Very interesting concepts, although it may not achieve the same thing. Avatar focused, and its very cartoonish. I’m not suggesting to use a picture from a photo (adult acne, scars, wicked shirt tan may be counterintuitive to the mission at hand), but take a real photo, give it a Charles Schwab or A Scanner Darkly-type effect, and then let the user control the body by giving it Second Life-type options.



Will corporate retailers buy the business concept? There are already a ton of retail aggregation ecommerce websites. But do the business plans represent a win-win situation? If your focus is taking a cut of the profits from the user or the clothing label, perhaps? I’m still a little uneasy. But what if the conversion process means redirecting the user to the clothing label website to make the purchase over there, and DressYou.com does not take a cut from the transaction? Sounds like a better business proposition. Even if there was a small conversion fee, it still sounds like a better proposition than a regular cookie cutter clothing ecommerce site.

Mobile – The big differentiator between this and other social networks is the concept of proactive vs reactive, so it would make sense to incorporate a mobile angle. Waiting for the coffee to brew? Commuting to work? Waiting for class to start? Access the DressYou mobile application and tell us what you’re wearing, by either inputting a unique ID number or browsing through a list.

Programming – A dash of php, jscript for user interface, a cup of MySql for backend, a tablespoon of Flash for the Avatar technology, pinch of Brew/Java for the mobile application, and a teaspoon of illustrator/whatever for the cartoonizer rendering effect are the ingredients to make this website? This is why I haven’t already formed a team for this site and where the technical readers come in. C’mon!

Bottom line. User gets to dress themselves or their friends up with brand label clothes, giving a level of engagement never before seen, and DressYou doesn’t hard sell because they care about their members equals a great user experience. Sound disruptive? You’re damn right it does.

Have I tantalized your entrepreneurial brown eye yet? I haven’t registered the DressYou.com domain, so don’t bother trying to go there, and if it gets registered, I’ll know one of my readers is an ass. Feel free to drop comments in the meantime, I plan to move this entire blog over to a hosted, drupal created site in the next few weeks.

Life:Water, Internet:??? November 23, 2007

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When I was still in equity research, one of the hottest topics and continues to be a prevailing theme are the varying monetization solutions for many of the widely popular services that comes as second nature for our generation – Instant Messaging, Social Networking, Search, Media, just to name a few. And for these, there are a slew of different types of advertisements – banner, contextual, rich media, in-text, pop-up, rss, in-video, mobile, product placement, and so on. The evolution of the Internet (huge un-researched assumption) went from informative, and as technology advanced, the permutation of more media rich content came into play, to today’s ravaging of the village that is the Internet. Everyone is getting in the game, not just free services, even those with winning products and services that are proven breadwinners. Its totally cool, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind watching an advertisement on the new Nissan Versa in order to catch my latest episode of heroes on nbc.com so that I don’t have to pay extra to have a Tivo device at home. If not for advertising, then how would NBC justify serving such media intensive content? Obviously there are people out there with both televisions and computers who prefer to watch their shows on a computer.


So who wins in this equation…definitely not the advertisers. As I’m writing this post, I clicked to view an episode of Heroes on NBC’s website. I was expecting to probably see an in-video about Nissan’s Versa, instead I was served an ad by Comfort Inn. As I was recovering from being totally juked out, I tried to my limited ability to ask myself, “Why Comfort Inn?” I’m not so sure if this is a good fit. What assumptions does the Comfort Inn advertising group make for the type of viewership the Heroes? I am no expert in advertising or marketing, but to me, Heroes is a more adult version of many of the comics my generation grew up on, so I’m thinking:


  • Majority age range of 20-30

  • Young professional

  • Income bracket somewhere between $45k and six figures.


Not having done any research, these are loosely based assumptions, so no need to bash me, I’m just using it as an example to further my observations….Ok, lets wrap this up. My point is that the advertising is not engaging, and neither would a Nissan Versa ad. If I was traveling, I would probably google map a list of hotels in the area, and depending on whether I’m paying myself or on the company dime, I would make my decision there. Or if I was going to purchase a new car, I would make a set of decisions – sedan or coupe, power or efficiency, price range, and then visit a review site. I can see the product placement of the Versa in the show “One of the heroes is driving the Versa,” because it plays on the emotional appeal of the viewer. Some idiot out there will think they’ll be as cool if they drive the same car as the time-bending character.


Recently, I interviewed with a social networking company for an advertising analysis manager position. Before the meeting, I read an interesting article on the economist about the implications of advertising on today’s many web 2.0 companies. A lot of what that writer said makes a whole lot of sense to me. The problem with advertising is the difficulty of engaging the user to create an experience. Only then is it likely that you will see the percentage of performance significantly increase. The article goes on to talk about search engines and social networks. User types something to the tune of “I want to buy a car” and I’m sure a lot of of the hits will come back with websites that will let you purchase a car online, or tell you how to. Whereas with a social network, user types into the interests section, “I like South Park,” and an ad to purchase a dvd box set of south park is served. But the conversion rate is low. In fact, despite being one of the most popular and intuitive social networks, Facebook has one of the lowest CTR’s in its space. This has been a problem plaguing online advertising for a long time coming. Would I be able to solve this problem? Haha…..(wipes tears from eyes)…no. In the recent slew of acquisitions by big tech companies (Yahoo/Third Screen Media, Microsoft/aQuantum, Google/DoubleClick), it is apparent that this has been on the mind of these technology powerhouses for some time. Mobile or Internet advertising, everyone is trying to cover their own asses, paying high premiums to ensure their livelihood into the next big mobile stretch, which I’m sure was a good choice. But living in Silicon Valley, where the advertising startups flow like the salmon of Capistrano, something tells me that very few to no advertising companies have yet to discover the holy grail solution. What this also says to me is that those starting up don’t think the ones already in the game are close to getting it right.



So how to create the experience? Going back to my previous examples, personalize the ad, put Hiro in the passenger seat with a silhouette in the drivers seat of a brand new Nissan Versa with some catchy tag like, “Save the world, save the cheerleader, save $1500 on a brand new Nissan Versa.” Or put Hayden Panettiere in a cheerleader outfit sitting in a Comfort Inn room with a *come in* gesture. That’ll definitely help create an experience (She is 18, right?)



Either that, or narrow the focus of your demographic. For giant social networks where user’s interests are grouped, finding an advertiser that can generate a decent conversion rate would be hard to find. Large retail companies like Best Buy, Amazon, etc. Is the target of your monetization based on the relevancy, behavior, or actions of your users?


Bringing it back to Web 2.0, one company that I kept my eye on for some time is Loopt, a mobile LBS startup. It notifies you when one of your buddies (on Boost or Sprint, and also has the service) has stepped into a certain proximity of you. Somewhat limited, but pretty sweet right? Having been time-tested on Boost’s network, it recently scored big with an agreement to serve on Sprint’s network. Now a solution that will make it even easier for cheating spouses to get away with it….jk but it has a wide range of implications; I only see good things for this company. When they roll out with an ad-supported platform (incorporating the same technology to track businesses on the radar), I’ll be first in line to download the service.


Kinda long…yeah I know. But I hope this is a good transitory post from what I’ve recently been posting to the goals I hope to achieve with this blog. In the next big post (I’m going to subpost a viral link test), I will lay out my first idea that I hope will stir some discussion. Happy Turkey Day, I’ve got the turkey food coma.

Gameplan – the overambitious version November 22, 2007

Posted by thedotcomillusionist in Uncategorized.
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Ok, so not an afterschool special, more like the evening rendezvous.  So hopefully over the next few days (and by next few days, I mean a few days after having passed out from food coma from destroying half a turkey), I hope to have a few things accomplished.


  • For the blog, further developing the monetizing and marketing capabilities. (I will go into further detail in a second…Relax!)

  • Further developing two mini websites which I hope to launch in the next month or two…One is a focus on manga, other is review site of nighttime venues (bars, clubs, eateries open past midnight). Both are quite similar in structure, so I’ll probably do both at the same time, we’ll see.

  • Posting several more blogs – a preface on my views of online advertising, and the issues that I have with it, followed with the first idea (which I had briefly mentioned in my first post) and my grand scheme for it. It was one of my first web 2.0 related ideas, so I am quite proud of it.


Monetizing this blog – So far I have feedburner working for me. After looking over other bloggers (JohnChow, HomeWithHeather, NetBusinessBlog, GigaOM, iwasdeniedcredit – here are my shameless pingback plugs), I’ve decided that I will be signing up for a few other advertising solutions. Here is a list of advertising solutions that I plan to include with a short description –


  • Google Adsense – Self explanatory. Contextual advertising targeted toward the content of the page. The payout minimum is $100, so looks like I wont get a paycheck from them anytime soon at my current readership. 😦

  • Yahoo Publisher Network – Hearing a lot of good things about this solution. People seem to be getting paid more. But that doesn’t matter if the ads aren’t more relevant, right? I’ll have to do more research on this, maybe I’ll use this over Adsense.

  • Bidvertiser – Similar to Google Adsense, this serves CPC ads. Minimum payout is $10. Sadly, this may take some time too… $*&@! 🙂

  • In-Text Advertising with Kontera or Intellitxt aka. Vibrant Media– Both serve advertisements inside the content, and some quick googling has shown that there used to be differing traffic requirements (Intellitxt’s 500k vs Kontera’s 50k), but now Kontera has upped their requirements to 500k too. Intellitxt seems to have a higher eCPM rate (almost 5 times?), but we’ll see which one will accept little ‘ol me into their program.

  • Text-Link-Ads – A little less familiar format than Google Adsense (more sneaky), providing…yes, you guessed it, text link ads.

  • Feedburner – CPM advertising for site RSS and the website. I like CPM solutions, although I know many of the tech readers will have some adblocking..Damn you!




  • AzoogleAds – Performance based CPA advertising. I’m pretty certain I won’t be putting this on my blog because I’m going to assume that my readers will be coming here to read, discuss ideas, make silly willy comments, not looking for things to buy. Hmmm….cool ideas, no wait….a dvd box set of south park!…not going to happen… But maybe it will for my mini sites?



Marketing this Blog –


  • Blogrush – Not quite sure what to make of it yet, but doesn’t seem to be many out of box blog traffic exchange solutions. People say that it only helps the big guys, but I’ll probably give it a go anyways to see how it does.


Hopefully things will get better in terms of readership, then I can close my eyes, open my arms and scream, “OOOOOOOOOOOO”


Okay, long winded section. I just wanted to let you guys know that this is just me laying everything out on the table, if those of you thinking that this is starting to look more like an online marketing blog. We will get to the meat of this blog in later posts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Morning Tickle November 21, 2007

Posted by thedotcomillusionist in Uncategorized.
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After I published my first post just yesterday, I was delighted this morning to find that people had actually visited my blog! 6 views according to wordpress (claims that I myself am not included), and 3 rss subscriptions according to feed burner (although I subscribed to it myself, so only 2….damn it!) And I’ve only sent my blog to one person to read. Pretty weak huh? It will take some time for me to get on the same page as other online marketing blog gurus, but when it happens, it will be oh so sweet….


As a blogging newbie, I’ve read from other bloggers who had blogged their methods of marketing and monetizing, but the act of implementation is much more different. So far the only monetizing tool I’ve implemented is the feedburner, and I stopped there because I haven’t figured out how to remove the default rss link provided by wordpress. Do I have to pay extra in order to further customize my blog? Double damn it…And what is a pingback? I know after I write this post, I’ll google search it, but I’ve included it in this post for the purpose of showing my newbie-ness in blogging…..ok I now know what it is, and have included it in my localized drupal blogging/forum website. Also, I’m terrible at tagging.


Stay tuned for an afterschool special edition where I’ll cover my next steps for this blog, steps for monetizing, and development updates on my niche websites.

What I’m all about November 21, 2007

Posted by thedotcomillusionist in About Me, Advertising.
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So begins my foray into the vast lands of the Internet…


As last generation’s land of opportunity was America, I believe the next opportunity is in the digital space. Is it safe to make that correlation?


… And I’m not being purely speculative, as we see thousands of people making a decent living doing small things like blogging (see John Chow’s impressive monthly revenue) and selling digital real estate on Second Life (see article on Anshe Chung on BusinessWeek) to the much larger and more conventional ventures providing video/image/advertising/whatever else content sharing services that are absorbed into larger tech companies for millions, and sometime billions. The world has shown me that there is a fascination in anything and everything, from a psychotic wannabe actress YouTubing her suicidal life, to a fanatic defending his favorite singer (“Leave her alone…I MEAN IT!”), so any publicity is good, right? The digital world is what you make of it, and for those who have taken the plunge much sooner than I have, I see the obvious benefits, that being –


  • very little to no initial capital investments (of course I’m talking about utilizing free service blogging/hosting/service websites)

  • the ability for global reach (or at least those who speak English or use translators)

  • limitless revenue potential


So here’s me – I was born and raised in Silicon Valley, I was recently in equity research at a technology investment bank, but have left several months ago, and trying to transition into a position at a big tech or tech start-up. In the meantime, I have taken steps to learn programming. Php, mysql, ajax, javascript, although my current focus is learning Drupal (which is almost as confusing as programming itself!) As a product of my environment, I am very entrepreneurial by nature. Growing up, I’ve seen people move in, only to move out a year later when their start-up tanks. As such, I am fascinated, possibly obsessed with the fast paced, cyclical, instant hit or go down in flames mentality of the technology world. One day you can be the only entrant in your space, hemorrhaging your users into oblivion. The next day, you can be yesterday’s news. Albeit this falls to the tendency of all industries, the web is much more sneaky, and and the time frame tends to be much shorter.


My dreams are not unusual, not for a Silicon Valley resident. Make my mark on the world, hit the internet lottery, remove myself from the corporate cog, enrich the lives of those around me, and then fade into history. My typical wet dreams typically consist of awesome products/services that I believe will generate the maximum amount of hedons for mankind. I have been involved in developing many dot com concepts, many of which have led to disappointment. Reasons….lack of technology, bad programming, bad team, a whole slew of things. I am what you would call a surface scratcher, I only think of the cool parts of the business, but oftentimes do not think about the dry parts (overhead, program backend, the stuff essential to a successful business)


So what will this blog be about? Ideas….primarily tech ideas. For those who know me, my time is unproductively spent thinking of ideas. I try to frame my ideas around my understanding of the technology space and work experience. Of course, this sometimes does not necessarily prove to be the case. I won’t talk about colonizing Mars, but I will talk about creating a website mashup of social networking and avatar technology with a focus on the fashion/retail industry, with the monetizing potential.


I tend to speak my mind without any consequence. I may occasionally publish a curse word or two, but only when I want to really emphasize something. I am grammatically incorrect, I like make assumptions, I talk too much and tend to digress often, and I like to include a lot of “…”’s and disclaimer comments in (parenthesis) in my attempt to show that I have thought out some of my statements to a certain extent.


What do I hope to get out of this? Improved writing skills, good opportunities, good discussions, and of course, money (whoring out my blog with ads in the most minimally intrusive way possible). Will I ever be able to make as much as my fellow bloggers? In time, would like this blog to be a center of innovative discussion with high level of interactivity, with meaningful relationships, and I’m not the only person blogging. With that, I plan to somehow incorporate forums as the center for discussion (comments are not the most intuitive). I am blessed with the pleasure of knowing, (although limited), venture capitalists, investment bankers, engineers, programmers, all with passions (not obsessions) in technology. Hopefully if I can get a decent audience, I can get some of them to be a featured blogger.


Thanks for reading, stay tuned, and welcome!