Pareto Efficient

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Day #7: Working in Gulu

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Luxury Computers of Gulu

In 30 minutes I found faster internet here, in the bush, than I could find in a week in Kampala.  Luxury Computers of Gulu is a great place to work.  The owner, Charles, is cool, everyone is quiet and productive – no distractions – its cheap and they take good care of me.

Visiting Italy without leaving Uganda

When I loaded up http://www.google.com, Goog auto redirected me to http://www.google.it (Italy).  No doubt the satellite signal was being bounced through an Italian IP address or something.  It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to switch it back to English.

Perhaps Google shouldn’t use geo targeting in the developing world where satellite internet is more common.  This is the primary reason why we don’t geo target at COUPONGOOD.org.  Other reasons include: 1. we don’t know how to do it  and 2. we really wouldn’t know where to start.

Now that's a real startup office

Think your startup is scrappy, check out my office.

Luke I have gone to the Dark Side

The general store next door sells coke for USD 30¢.  Do you understand what that means for a Coke addict?  Its not good, man. The sugar, the caffiene, the power coursing through my veins.  Wait, what?  Haha nevermind.

Doing a woman’s job…

In Uganda, washing clothes is seen as the “woman’s job” (along with almost all other forms of work).  So, when I, a white man, set out to hand wash my clothes in a basin, it drew considerable interest from my female neighbors.

I bought some Omo – local degergent brand – from a general store (hut) and got to work.  After a while, I had a small gallery of fans — who quickly turned to friendly critics and helpers.

In no time, all the dirt and blood stains were gone.  Strangely, my hands were tingling and felt rubbery to the touch… Which begged the question: What the is Omo made of?  Krytonite?  Asbestos? Unicorn tears?  I don’t really want to know.

If this is my last post, then you’ll know the Omo got me 🙂

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Written by thetyson

October 14, 2008 at 12:05 am

Time to visit the big U

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Beta, powered by Diet Coke

COUPONGOOD, powered by Diet Coke

COUPONGOOD is in beta, and we’ve made 52 loans to Ugandan entrepreneurs.  Now I’m headed there to drop in on the MFIs and the loan recipients to see if the loans are making a difference.  I’ll be evaluating four factors: 1) gov’t/infrastructure 2) Macro/micro economic health 3) MFIs 4) borrowers.

I think I’m ready:

Shots: Hep A, Hep B, Yellow Fever, Teatnus, Menengitis, Rabies — DONE
Waterproof bag, first aid kit, canteen, malaria meds, other meds, flashlight, pants, shirts, socks, underwear, shoes, belt, laptop, toothpaste/brush, bug spray, sun screen, sun glasses, hat, small towel, passport, vaccination card, money — CHECK

I’ve never been out of the US.  When I tell that to people who’ve been to Uganda, they usually laugh and ask me if I’m serious.  Weird, that can’t be a good.

I’ll be there for 3 weeks.  My biggest fear? Simple: I won’t want to come back.

Written by thetyson

October 7, 2008 at 1:19 pm

COUPONGOOD Metrics: 09/29/08

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Its time for another metrics update.  Now that the site mostly automated, its time for us to get out there and make people aware of it with a focus is on inbound links and traffic generation.

Milestones:

  • Google PageRank up from 0 to 1/10 — wohoo!
  • Cracked Alexa top 400,000 (#376,000)
  • 1,000+ stores

Key Metrics:

Loans:

Stores + Coupons:

  • 1,191 stores (up 100% month-over-month)
  • 3,083 coupons (up 200% m-o-m)
  • 832 pages indexed by Google (up 110% m-o-m)

Traffic:

  • Unchanged month-over-month
  • This will improve with marketing and inbound links…get there

Incoming Links:

  • 1 link (unchanged)

Written by thetyson

September 29, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Posted in CouponGood.org

Tagged with

Really? Cease-and-Desist. Come on…

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Well, we had a major milestone last week.  We were served with our very first Cease-and-Desist letter from the lovely lawyers at CouponCabin.com.

Having worked in the social media for a few years now, I’ve traded more than a few interesting emails with lawyers who request the removal of user generated content that allegedly infringes on their clients’ feelings.  Its common for NBC to request Youtube to remove pirated videos from their site, for example.  Its pretty simple, you just remove the content and get back to work.

However, this CouponCabin case appears to be more strategic and systematic.

Their Strategy:

They have arranged for merchants to issue special coupon codes for CouponCabin that acutally use their name “CouponCabin” in the code.  Then, they claim (see the letter below) that the republication of their name (trademarked of course) might confuse users.  Its totally bs, but its a genius strategy.

Their System:

We received a letter that referenced a coupon code: “COUPONCABIN-ALL5PER”.  We couldn’t find it on the site or in the db.  Weird, so we just ignored it.

Then, an hour later we received another letter referencing a different coupon code:  “COUPONCABIN08”. Clearly, their legal team is systematically searching Google for all certain codes and sending the letters to the site owners via WHOIS.

Really?  What’s the ROI on that effort?

  • Legal Assistants cost, what, $100/hr
  • Let’s say they can serve 1 letter every 10 mintues or 6/hour
  • If that’s true, then each letter costs $16.67
  • At the time of this writing, there were 197 results for a Google search for COUPONCABIN08 and
  • Let’s assume 80% unique violators…thats ($16.67 * (0.8*197)) = $2,627.92 to “protect” just one code
  • How many sites actually complied with the request? (we did, but we’re nice guys)

What could they do with the money?

  • They could have bought Adwords traffic for “coupon codes” at $1.17 per click and netted 2,200+ new users
  • They could have blown it on a really cool hot air ballon ride
  • We would’ve probably partially funded 100 Kiva Loans in Uganda, but I guess lawyers need work too…

What do you think?  Leave your comments in on this post.

The letter is below:

Re:  Infringement of CouponCabin, Inc.’s Intellectual Property Rights

Dear Sir or Madam:

CouponCabin, Inc. (“CouponCabin”) has adopted and used the trade name and the trademark “CouponCabin” and has established substantial goodwill in the mark.  In addition, an integral part of CouponCabin’s business model, in conjunction with CouponCabin’s merchant partners, includes the creation and use of unique Coupon Code Identifiers, which are published over the internet and enable consumers and vendors to identify CouponCabin’s offerings.

It has recently come to CouponCabin’s attention that you are using CouponCabin’s intellectual property on your website located at www.CouponGood.org in connection with similar on-line coupon offerings.  Your unauthorized use of the CouponCabin trademark in the coupon code “COUPONCABIN08” for PlayPhone is identical to that owned and used by CouponCabin in its advertising, promotion and general business operations is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception with regard to the source or sponsorship of the services offered by you.  Consequently, your use of CouponCabin’s intellectual property constitutes trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition as prohibited by federal laws, including 15 USC ss. 1051, 1125, as well as various other federal and state statutes and common law.

Accordingly, CouponCabin hereby demands that you and any other business or person directly or indirectly affiliated with you immediately cease and desist from using any and all trademarks, service marks or trade names that are confusingly similar to those owned and used by CouponCabin, including but not limited to the coupon code “COUPONCABIN08” for PlayPhone.

Please confirm in writing no later than the close of business on September 26, 2008 that you agree to comply with the requests contained herein.  In the event that you do not agree to these demands, CouponCabin will take the appropriate steps to protect its rights, which will include referral of this matter to the legal counsel for enforcement of CouponCabin’s legal rights.  By such action, CouponCabin will seek to obtain injunctive relief, and the recovery of profits, treble damages, pre-judgment interest, costs and attorneys’ fees.

Domains by Proxy, Inc.
September 17, 2008
Page 2

Please be advised that CouponCabin expressly reserves all rights and remedies for the conduct identified herein.

Regards,

Scott Kluth

Written by thetyson

September 27, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Join Our Lending Team!

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Kiva recently released a new Team Lending feature.  It enables groups of lenders to come group up around common interests, geographies, etc.  Loans made by team members are tracked through the group.

If you loan through Kiva, then we’d be honored if you loaned through our Lending Team.

Its a solid feature and their usage has spiked.  The growth in user base is great in the long-term, but tough in the short term because its severely limiting the availability of loans.

When we started Coupongood.org, we chose Uganda for several reasons.  One key reason was the solid flow of loans out of Uganda.  You see, we didn’t want to run out of loan inventory…  Back then (3 months ago) there were 20+ Ugandan loans raising funds on any given day; hundreds worldwide.

Now, since Kiva usage is so high, there are ZERO Ugandan loans fundraising and ONLY 11 WORLDWIDE.

Loans that used to take 1-2 days to fund are literally being funded in a matter of minutes.  Its crazy.  This is obviously great – people who need funding are getting it quickly.  However, one of Kiva’s core value propositions is that of choice.  If the loan inventory isn’t increased to match this new lender demand, then you may see some lenders get frustrated.

We’re about 10 loans behind on the site, but we’re working on some things to make loans automatically.

Written by thetyson

September 27, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Posted in CouponGood.org

Tagged with , ,

What’s missing in your life?

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Clearly, you’ve thought about it.

Why am I here on this planet?  What’s missing in my life?

Perhaps you just need some cool COUPONGOOD gear from Zazzle (10% off coupons).

Send us pics of the gear in action — especially if you get the Old School Skateboard.

Cheers!

Written by thetyson

September 27, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Posted in CouponGood.org

Tagged with , ,

COUPONGOOD Release Notes: 08/26/08

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4 days worth of Diet Coke

Need a bigger desk

We did another iteration on the site based on user feedback.  We hit the internal goal thanks to a Diet Coke-fueled 36 hour push at the end…

Categories:

  • People wanted a way to browse similar types of stores and find the best ongoing deals.
  • We added [very] broad Categories in order to start accommodating this request
  • Each Category page shows the top 100 stores and the top 25 coupons
  • http://www.coupongood.org/categories

New UI:

  • People were confused about how to use coupons
  • We responded by making the coupons a little smarter; now, coupons are customized by the presence of a coupon code (or not).
  • Also, we increased the clickable area for using the coupon code to make it more intuitive.
  • The header and general look and feel was also updated to reflect the tracking data

We hope you like the changes.  Please feel free to add your feedback in the comments of this blog post or you can always email us at:

  • 2cents [at] coupongood [dot] org

Cheers,

The Coupongood Team

Written by thetyson

August 26, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Posted in CouponGood.org

Tagged with , ,