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Last night I spoke to a group of visiting MBA students from Harvard Business School and MIT’s Sloan School of ManagementOther panelists included Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, Glenn Kelman CEO of Redfin, Spencer Rascoff CEO of Zillow, Dan Shapiro, CEO of Sparkbuy and Tracy Wright, CFO of Drugstore.com.

We covered a variety of topics ranging from driving innovation to the technologies MBA students should have some familiarity with. However, the best part of the discussion was brought up by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, who encouraged all visiting MBA students to consider Seattle for their post-graduate career.  Here’s a quick list of reasons why MBA’s from top programs should consider Seattle:

  • Diverse technology community from exciting start-ups like the many listed on Seattle 2.0 to Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, and Drugstore.com.
  • Strong wireless industry and talent. Both T-Mobile and many of the key decision-makers at AT&T Wireless are located in Seattle’s Eastside. WhitePages was able to build our own successful mobile division (Top 10 iPhone and Android apps) by recruiting very experienced wireless experts from AT&T Wireless, RealNetworks, & Snapin.
  • Games. In addition to Nintendo, and Microsoft’s Xbox division, Seattle is the epicenter of the casual games market with Big Fish Games, Wild Tangent, and Pop Cap.
  • No State Income Tax (yet).  For some, that can be a 5-10% increase in take home compensation.
  • Boating capital of the world. We are surrounded by oceans and lakes for fishing, skiing, rowing, and swimming.  You can hit the ski slopes and mountains in about one hour, and some of the best skiing is a great weekend trip away at Whistler, Canada.
  • Some of the world’s best brick and mortar brands were started or are headquartered in Seattle: REI, Nordstrom, Costco, and Starbucks to name a few.

The one point I made at the panel may sound frivolous but is also incredibly important for MBA students to really get to know and enjoy each other. Through the MBA program at Harvard Business School, I was able to meet lifelong friends and build a strong professional network that has helped me in a variety of scenarios from advice to partnerships to getting funding and making deals. So to all of you completing an MBA degree, go out and get to know your classmates over a cold beer or a hot coffee and then plan on making the move to Seattle.

DealPop is launching on July 14, 2010 in Seattle.  DealPop is an online service that will soon offer great deals at the best places to eat, drink, and have fun-right in your neighborhood.

Find out who some of featured deals will be and sign up now to get the offers first by clicking here.

The Media:

DealPop in The Seattle Times

Smashing Thoughts: A Local Bloggers View of DealPop

Greater Seattle On The Cheap

Value is Much More Than A Good Deal: How WhitePages Launched DealPop

The Official DealPop Blog

Tweeted:

Neil Patel is a big deal, and DealPop is a good deal

@neilpatel Follow @DealPop on Twitter for inside info on the best places to drink, eat and shop in #SEA! (pls RT!) http://ow.ly/25BNZ

Official Twitter Page for DealPop

DealPop on Facebook

WhitePages is proud to announce DealPop, your source for insider information on the best places to eat, drink and play - right in your neighborhood!

Value Is Much More Than A Good Deal

Today the Seattle Times announced our new service DealPop, which will soon offer great deals at the best places to eat, drink, and have fun — right in your neighborhood.

Sure we are going to offer incredible discounts, but we are also focused on providing a great customer experience and selecting great places for you to enjoy and discover.

We built DealPop as a service and not just a transaction.  Our project is centered and driven on a set of guiding principles that reflect the following core values of  WhitePages:

Connect with Confidence

We are on a mission to help consumers connect with confidence.  Millions of consumers trust WhitePages as the leading web and mobile service for finding both people and businesses.  Searches on our site allow us to see both the most popular and up and coming merchants.  From these findings, our DealPop team, including full-time sales reps that are a part of the local community, select a target list of businesses to provide the best offers for a location.

As a company that is hyper-focused on providing the best experience, we also want to make sure the consumers redeem the deals they purchase.  For those that opt-in to our email list, we will send a reminder.

We also want to make sure the merchant is prepared before a consumer walks into their shop, so our head of sales Cindy Hewitt has put together a comprehensive training and support program to help the merchants provide the best in-store experience.

We’re Entrepreneurial

What first began as a conversation several months ago with our CEO/Founder Alex Algard, Board Director Will Griffith, colleagues Joe Heitzeberg and Jason Milstead is now a new and fully staffed service.  Our board and leadership team funds ideas and then we empower our sprint teams as self-run start-ups to move quickly.  Eliminating the need for executive review allows the team to focus all resources on the quality of service.

Work With The Best People

The DealPop team puts their heads together.

In order to empower a team, you have to hire the right people.   We selected experienced A-team players that know how to create mainstream consumer services and have a deep understanding of both online and local.    The launch team, some of them featured in the picture, (and in order of when they joined the project) includes Troy Morris, Julie Pitt, Elizabeth Rogers, Cindy Hewitt, Travis Pearl, Bobby Cox, Rebecca Carroll, Aaron Oak,  Thaddeus Gunn, Melissa Bower, Roger Rignack, Drew Hackleman.  We have a lot of fun teasing each other and finding humor in every situation.  Julie has a laugh all of downtown Seattle can hear,  while Troy is determined to create a promotion that involves him wearing a Gorilla suit .   If you don’t have a team that enjoys working together, you can’t build something fun for consumers.

Our fantastic marketing maven Liz Powell is already building a great media buzz, following on the footsteps of the recent press she secured for WhitePages in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.   Just check out the Twitter and Foursquare stream of Marie Langhout and you can see she has been to almost every bar, salon, and restaurant in Seattle .  Marie is  building a great presence for us on Twitter and Facebook even before we officially launch.

Finally, Susan Fincher from our HR department stepped in to help with recruiting and developing interviewing process to make sure we continue to hire the best people as we roll out to more markets.

One Mission, One Team:

In addition to a great DealPop team, we have leveraged the talent and resources of WhitePages to launch DealPop.  Our finance head Suki Hayre and legal counsel Jolene Marshall helped us navigate through a lot of details to make payment simple and easy for consumers and merchants.

This was not a secret project at WhitePages, we had several open “brown bags” and reviews to get  feedback and input from our colleagues.  Every sprint team and business unit helped with ideas, advice, and work – and all the critical components needed to provide the best merchant and consumer experience.

We will also leverage the +20m consumer reach of WhitePages and serve new customers because DealPop is built on the same principles we work by at WhitePages to provide consumers and merchants with more than just a good deal.

Interested in learning more? Head to our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. And don’t forget to sign up at DealPop.com!

Follow me on Twitter: @knakao

Follow WhitePages on Twitter: @WhitePages

You’re not the only person tired of cell phones costing at least $200 in addition to $80+ per month and still requiring a 2 year contract. All in, that’s over $1k down the drain if you make the wrong decision.  Often times carriers have spotty coverage, and sometimes the phone you choose can be harder to use than you first thought. On top of it all, it’s often times unclear if you’re able to return a phone after you buy it, and what refunds you’re entitled to. Here are some tips that will clear up any confusion:

You must act quick.

Here’s the deal, depending on which carrier you go with, you have a window of opportunity to return your phone and get your money back.

Below is a quick look at the return policies when you purchase directly from one of the 4 major US Carriers:

Cell Phone Carrier Return Data

You must do the following:

  • Always ask to see the refund and exchange policy in writing. Wireless carrier policies change all the time, and if you buy from a re-seller or dealer, their policies may be different.
  • Maintain your device in excellent shape with all packaging, accessories, and material that come with the phone.
  • Keep all of your receipts. Most carriers require proof of purchase for a return
  • Be nice and respectful to the person helping you. Your goal is to get your money back.

The bottom line is to read the fine print and ask the sales person these questions before you purchase.

If you have any experiences or tips on returning your cell phone and/or cancelling your coverage let us know.

For more mobile phone tips and wireless news, follow me on Twitter @knakao

Links to Wireless Policies:

Verizon

T-Mobile

AT&T

Sprint

It’s pretty amazing to see that after hitting Top 4 in the overall free chart, over a year later the WhitePages iPhone application continues to be a Top 10 free reference application.

Ingrid Michelsen recently wrote about how WhitePages Mobile Moved From the Sidelines To The Limelight in 6 months and today we announce reaching over 2 million users on mobile.

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