Let’s go! – by Stefanos Vasdekis A blog about entrepreneurship, the web2.0 world, and life.


Remember Webcrawler, Netscape, Infoseek, Prodigy, Compuserve, Primenet, and Well?

You should remember these sites if you were online in 1996. They were among the top brands on the web. Where are they now? They do not exist. Now imagine that in 10 years Google, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube might not exist... Impossible? Yeah, ok, what would you say in 1996 about Webcrawler's, Netscape's and Infoseek's future?

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Presenting our applications at Facebook Developer Garage

This is my first presentation in English after a long long time, so I can embed it to my blog. It is also the first presentation of our Facebook applications. We had to wait until our 5 apps reach 300.000 Greek members in total (153.000 the most popular one) before presenting them... And this was not a planned presentation, folks at the Garage wanted us to talk about the most used Greek application, "Kerasmata". This is the only Greek word used in the presentation and means drinks offered from a friend to a friend. Special thanks to Nicolas and Jose for hosting the event and to George for broadcasting it live.


Building social apps on top of social apps

It's the next logical step. Super Wall has replaced Facebook's classic wall. The same has happened with poking and sending gifts. Facebook's classic messaging application lacks common features that come standard in other email applications, like search, forwarding and attachements. Similarly the classic groups application and the status updates are inferior to other independent services. Maybe Super Groups and Super Messages applications could replace the classic ones. And later Super Super Groups with more features could replace Super Groups. But I don't think this is the best path.

What if a developer could build a feature on top of any application. One developer could build the forwarding functionality in messaging and another developer the attachements functionality, not necessarily hosted on facebook's servers. And maybe another developer take the existing groups functionality to build a groups version targeted to a certain industry.

The opportunities are endless. It's not just Facebook's classic applications that one could extend. There are also 15.000 more applications and soon with Opensocial even more will be built.

I also think that OpenSocial, Data Prortability project, Google's Social Graph API, Facebook's Platform Licensing, Facebook's Open Source JavaScript Library and other projects that will be announced in the next months will make developers and companies invest more time and money on social apps, as they will have more control and a broader audience. And the next generation of applications will definitely be more feature-rich and less isolated. It's an interesting game not only to watch, but also to participate!


A paradox: LeWeb3 hostages could not communicate

Since the 2nd day of LeWeb3 the hottest discussion topic is how French politicians, invited by Loic, hijacked the conference. I see that over 9 out of 10 attendees didn't like that.
So, what did we do?
First of all, what should we have done?

During French politicians speeches the room was half empty when it should have been 90% empty... How is it possible the top technologists to be unable to communicate, when they have all the communication tools available?
What tools?
- Most of the participants had their laptops with them and the Wi-Fi was working quite well the second day, so they were online.
- There was a backstage irc channel.
- There was a wiki.
- There was a google group.
- There was the blogosphere.
- Instant messengers and emails could also have been used.
And there was plenty of time to communicate such a message between the visits of the two politicians. Isn't it a paradox?

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Leweb3 on a one to ten scale

le web3 in paris web2.0 conference

The best think that happened at LeWeb3 gets a 10, the worst gets a 1. Let's go:

10) The unique chance to meet 1000 like-minded people from 37 countries in one place

9) The conversations that took place at the coffee breaks, lunch breaks, dinners and meetups

8) The constructive feedback we got from angel investors and venture capitalists about our new project

7) The presentation of Hans Rosling

6) The live comments at the IRC backstage channel that worked the second day.

5) The 40 minutes we had to wait to get our coats after the party.

4) The boring presentations and panels

3) Mike Arrington did not come and nobody explained us why

2) The Wi-Fi was not working the first day

1) The French politicians who used our event for their campaigns.

Overall it was a GREAT way to begin my week and I'm glad I was there!

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Silicon Valley’s advantage over Europe – Live from Leweb3

We're on the second day of Leweb3 here in Paris. Since the warm-up meetups on Sunday, one of the hottest discussions is the comparison of being a startup company in Silicon Valley and Europe.

I've heard some negative comments for Europe like "Americans view Europe as a small market without innovation and they can always acquire if needed".

On the other hand, I've heard very positive comments about Europe like "If we're accused of not working hard and we still perform better than others, it means that we work smarter" or like "We have many examples of tech companies that made it big, stop discussing if we can compete with Silicon Valley or not and let's do it. In Silicon Valley nobody discusses if they can compete against Europe...

One thing everyone agrees is that one of the big advantages of Silicon Valley is that a whole innovative community is concentrated in a one hour drive radius. Smart entrepreneurs, developers, angels, VCs, universities and tech journalists. As you go to Hollywood to make movies, as you go to New York or London for stocks, you go to Silicon Valley to make innovative software. I believe that this is by far the most important advantage of Silicon Valley compared to Europe.

I've met smart guys from both sides of the Atlantic. I don't see any signs that Americans are smarter than Europeans. They might be more entrepreneurial, but Europeans have other qualities. For example they speak at least 2-3 languages and better understand the international aspect of the web. Especially those of us who don't come from Germany, UK or France, but from a small market, we're forced to look abroad right from the beginning if we want to do something significant.

Well, if we all agree, why not to build the European Silicon Valley? And I don't mean to expect from EU bureaucrats to build one for us, because it will take a century... If this project was ever to become reality and I had a chance to propose a place, that would be in Mediterranean of course, and specifically Crete Island in Greece.

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Why we work in Stealth Mode this time

[update: site sold too early...]

Many people believe that startups in stealth mode suck or that stealth mode is a big mistake, but I like the experience so far... The last weeks I'm working with John on our first project we keep secret. And there are many reasons that we decided to keep it secret.

No, we do NOT try to protect our idea as if nobody else has ever thought of it. We're confident we could beat in execution any other team with the same idea :)

And no, we don't try to be perfect at launch; we're old enough to know it's not possible.

The reasons are simple. We just try to work quietly and be 100% concentrated on developing the site. We don't need to advertise at this stage. And we're changing things every day, if we were in beta mode, we would have to spend half our day explaining to our first members what has changed and why. By the way, it's not clear yet what exactly our final messaging will be, and this is the only thing we wouldn't like to change soon after it's decided.

So far I see stealth mode as a huge timesaver. We're talking less and we're working more! I hope we don't like this mode so much that we never escape from it...

[update: site sold too early...]

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Is this a “web 2.0″ design? 26 characteristics to look for

A breakdown of most common characteristics of "web 2.0" websites.

Every "web 2.0" website has some of the following characteristics, I would estimate at least 10. No, I didn't use any scientific method to get to this number, it's just an intuitive estimation.

Here is the list:

1) Use of AJAX: It's synonymous with web 2.0, the less times the page refreshes, the more "web 2.0" the site is. Use of features like search suggest or drag and drop make it even more "web 2.0" and more user friendly. Example: gmail who made AJAX famous

2) Big fonts in headers and text. Example: 37signals

3) Big buttons and big text fields in forms. Example: digg signup

4) Gradient boxes. Example: kaboodle. Photoshop Tutorial in Web 2.0 Design Kit

5) Diagonal stripes. Usually in the background. Example: techcrunch. Photoshop tutorial: designmeltdown 

6) Centered layouts. It's rare to find a left aligned layout anymore. Example: videoegg

7) Highlighted text. Example: amberjack

8) Reflections. Usually in logos. Example: fluxiom. Photoshop tutorial: planetphotoshop

9) Shades. Example: ning. Photoshop Tutorial in Web 2.0 Design Kit

10) A live counter. How much space in gmail, how many clicks tracked with crazyegg, how many calories burned with traineo.

11) Trademark round flashes. These "sign up" or "free" star shape graphics are everywhere. Example: traineo sign-up graphic. Photoshop Tutorial in Web 2.0 Design Kit

12) Cute icons. Example: itsdex

13) Rounded corners. Example: crazyegg. Photoshop Tutorial in Web 2.0 Design Kit

14) Links with highlighted background on mouseover. Example: flickr

15) The "BETA" notice near the logo. Some projects never escape the beta mode... Example: kosmix

16) A tag cloud. This is a must have. Example: 43things

17) RSS feeds with the well known "subscribe me" buttons. Example: feedburner

18) Neutral colored fading backgrounds. Example: edgeio

19) A link to the blog. Example: mobissimo

20) Big footer. Example: linkedin

21) Use of shades of green. Green is the color of web 2.0 and a common choice for web 2.0 websites. Example: ning

22) The word "Free" is often mentioned. Most web 2.0 websites are free and depend on advertising to make money. Example: wikipedia

23) Instant validation and yellow-fade technique. When you edit something on the page a yellow highlight briefly spotlights the change when the page reloads. Example: 37signals who made it famous

24) A lot of white space that makes text easier to read. Example: linkedin

25) Friendly and funny error message when the website is down. Example: funny error 404 page

26) Members' thumbnails (avatars) featured on the homepage. Most web 2.0 websites have a community. It's all about social networking after all... Example: mybloglog

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Smart online marketing for hotel websites

You know that internet is the right place to get more visitors to your hotel, but you don't know where to start from or you are not sure you're doing everything you can. Here is a checklist:

1) Search engine traffic
It's so difficult to rank in the top spots of free search engine results that many hotel owners don't even try. Well, at least you should consult a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist or invest some time reading to understand the basic principles of SEO and follow them. If free traffic comes, consider it as a bonus. In the meantime pay for search engine traffic (pay per click advertising - PPC) through Google's Adwords and Yahoo's Search Marketing programs. If you're short on time to learn about PPC, it will be cheaper for you to consult an Adwords professional to set up and run your campaign.

2) Big travel websites
You have already heard the big names of internet travel, like expedia and travelocity. You might also have booked your holidays with them. But have you tried to include your hotel in these websites? You need to spend some time to make sure that your hotel is listed in all well known travel websites, as they already have tons of traffic. Sometimes you will be able to submit your site directly to them and other times you will submit to another service that feeds the travel website. Here is a list:

3) Web 2.0 world
There is so much buzz about social networking websites that no hotel owner can afford to ignore this new world. First of all there are blogs and social bookmarking websites. If your hotel has something unique and bloggers find it, then enormous buzz is generated. See for example this hotel that was featured on the first page of digg.com, http://digg.com/design/Extraordinary_Hotel_with_30_Different_Rooms . Note that most likely your server will not be able to serve the traffic if your website is featured on the first page of digg (here is where the phrase "dugg to death" comes from), but this is not a reason to avoid buzz... People also use social bookmarking sites like http://del.icio.us for search, replacing search engines, so it's important to be listed under relative keywords ("tags" in web 2.0 world).

Then there are all these community websites, where people share experiences, ratings, photos, wishes regarding online travel. Check:
The good news about web 2.0 world is that it's free to get in. The bad news is that you cannot pay to get in... That means that you must have or do something worth mentioning. An average hotel with average service will never get web 2.0 buzz as there is no interesting story associated with it.

Then there are mashups, websites that search for best deals in many booking engines and combine the results with maps and reviews they get from other websites. An example is www.mobissimo.com and here is the list of hotel booking engines that it searches simultaneously:

Active Hotels, AsiaRooms, Bookings.net, Candlewood Suites, ChinaHotelz.com, Circus Circus, Conference Centers by Marriott, Country Inns, Courtyard by Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Select, Hotel Indigo, HotelClub, HotelPronto, Hyatt, InterContinental, La Quinta, LastMinuteTravel, LasVegas.com, Lodging.com, Marriott, Marriott Vacation Club, Mirage, OctopusTravel.com, Onetravel, OnlineHotels.com, Orbitz, Park Inn, Park Plaza, Radisson, RatesToGo, Renaissance Hotels, ReserveTravel, Residence Inn by Marriott, Skoosh, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Staybridge Suites, The Venetian, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Travelguru, TravelWorm, venere.com.

Another service similar to mobissimo is www.kayak.com . These websites make it so much easier and faster to find the best deal that is no surprise they're getting more and more popular.

To sum up, the 3 smart moves to promote your hotel website online are:
a) Pay for clicks from search engines.
b) Make sure you're included in as many big directories as possible.
c) Explore the web 2.0 world's opportunities.

Good luck!


Filed under: Travel, Web 2.0 1 Comment

The green team of Web 2.0

Green is definitely THE color of web 2.0. Let's find the hex codes of some web 2.0 sites:

Technorati: #39AE07
Writely: #7D9408 and #94AF14
Wikispaces: #006600 and #DFF4CE
BitTorrent: #009900
Newsvine: #02672B
Riya: #5DA52F and #60D22D
Ma.gnolia: #9EB847 and #F3F3CC
Podzinger: #A6BC09
Crazyegg: #8ABC00 and #9EC630
Fotolia: #32CC32
Trulia: #ABD74C
Blogcode: #349800
Writetomyblog: #9FCC27
Script.aculo.us: #6D9040 and #91B85F
Rbloc: #BAD02D
Blo.gs: #009900
Inods: #04B100 and #EAFECE
Blummy: #3CB90B and #DDFFC9
Mercora: #70A03D
Lime: #6EA928
Simpleticket: #7BD758 and #AFD14F
Ning: #339900 and #88CC55
Theadcloud: #96CB61
Xufe: #BAEA26 and #9ECD32
Snipshot: #4CB60D
Wayfairing: #128E35

Do you think their color will help them at all to start seeing green soon?

If you're looking to design a green website, you might also find these links helpful:
Netcocktail: Nice color combinations
Colorblender: Free online tool for color matching and palette design
Designmeltdown: All shades of green

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