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How we went from an idea to launching our MVP in 2 weeks

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I spent the last two weeks building out popvend.com with my friend Kyle. This was our first time shipping something this quick and thought I would break down how we did it, what we learned, and what we still need to improve on.

Popvend is a free personal page to sell your digital products, services, host virtual events, and pretty much anything online.

Days 1-3

The first day we planned out our idea of the platform at a high level, figuring out the basic flow and functionality, as well as the look we wanted to go for. This part was pretty straightforward, so not much to go into here.

The next two days were spent going over our plans and stripping out anything that wasn't needed for people to start using it (something we still need to improve on). Once that was done, we also went ahead and broke down more of the technical implementation so we could begin to split up the tasks for coding. I'm really into the frontend design/flow, so I usually take a stronger stance on that front while Kyle does more of the backend.

Days 4-7

We now had planned out pretty much everything we needed to get started, so these next days were mainly spent coding. We also still had not come up with a name, so in our downtime, we would be on GoDaddy typing in different variations of words trying to find an available .com. With the structure of the URL being oursite.com/yourusername we needed something short, easy to read and pronounce.

Our strategy for this was finding 2 words that described what we were building and mashing them together in any variation possible. We settled on popvend.. The "pop" represents "pop-up", like a pop-up store. The "vend" is short for "vendor". We had other names we wanted, but with it being a competitive space for domains, and wanting to get this out quickly, we settled.

Days 7-11

Up to this point, we hadn't run into any problems coding wise. We were using Django, as we have for our previous projects, so we were pretty familiar with how to implement everything. Then came the uploading of files…something neither of us had experience with. Initially, our idea was to upload the files to our server over HTTP, zip them, then store on s3.

The problem we ran into was uploading anything over ~10MB took pretty long, and as the size went up, time did as well. After hours trying different things, scouring StackOverflow and banging our heads, we realized we must be doing this the wrong way. We ended up using the s3 JavaScript SDK to upload directly from the client, after some learning and tinkering we had this working and upload speeds were A LOT faster!

Lesson Learned: If something is that hard for you to get working, and you can't find many solutions for it, then you should take a step back and see if there is a different (ideally simpler) way to solve it.

Days 11-14

Most of the coding was now complete. The key was trying to keep things as simple as possible and reminding ourselves of that every time we were coding. We tested everything and noted down any bugs or things we forgot, fixed those, then tested again.

Our original goal was one week. Once we began the technical implementation, we realized that wasn't going to be attainable, so we bumped it up to 2. Well, we did it! Our previous projects have usually taken us 1-2 months, so this was a pretty new thing for us.

We put the site live yesterday, reserved the usernames we wanted 😂 and now are just spreading the word to anyone we think could use it. We decided not to put any effort into some big launch for a couple of reasons:

  1. It had never worked well for us before. We would do the typical Product Hunt /Betalist, Reddit post, etc. and get a few upvotes, and that's pretty much it. Since we didn't have any users or people who knew about us its understandable. This is why our approach now was to get some users first and collect as much feedback as we can.
  2. Touched on in the point above, but since we had no real users, putting focus on a launch didn't make much sense, when really all we needed was 10-20 people just to try it out and give us feedback, so we could make the product better.

We do plan to launch it like that, but once we actually have some users, feedback and more of a community around it.

This is my first time writing something like this. I've always felt like I didn't know enough to post about my experiences with building something, but I learned that if you never just do it, you will always be stuck in that mindset. Even if one thing I said here helps somebody, that would be awesome.

If you wanna connect or chat, feel free to reach out! @claytonrannard

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Feeding the Hungry, Despite National Crisis

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The year 2020 has emphasized one certainty: In times of crisis, entrepreneurs innovate, adapt and continue to give back. One example—among many—of philanthropy during the worldwide COVID-19 crisis comes from our EO Gujarat chapter.

Through their organization, Karma Foundation, members Chiranjiv Patel and Priyanshi Patel led a group of volunteers to feed the homeless and needy during the lockdown in India.

chiranjiv patelThis is just the latest example from many years the Karma Foundation has been making a difference in the community. We recently spoke with Chiranjiv Patel (pictured at left) to learn more. Patel is the managing director and vice chairman of P.C. Snehal Group, a construction company based in Ahmedabad, India. He is known for his leadership in business and charitable pursuits.

Tell us more about Karma Foundation.

Karma Foundation is primarily focused on community development across the entire socio-economic spectrum. Our focus includes education, health, livelihood, women development, youth development, literature and culture, and we aim to reach every sector of the society in order to make our efforts more transformational and impactful.

Jeevan Shrishti is one of our main programs. It acknowledges food as a basic necessity. We are working to ensure that nobody goes to sleep with an empty stomach by feeding poor children and the needy. We are also planning to launch kiosks across the city to provide food at negligible cost.

We make food at Sai temple satadhar one day a month and at Anjani Mata temple every day. We distribute food to street people and kids, and also to municipal school students.

Every week we encounter some of those tear-bringing moments, when Karma feeds 250 people who eat until the last bite of their plate. Some of us go to restaurants every week or maybe twice a week and waste food excessively. But here, they respect the food given on their plates and would not waste even a bite.

Since October 2015, we’ve fed approximately 50,000 people.

Other Karma initiatives include:

Sahara is a program that expresses our core value—support. Through Sahara, Karma extends resources to senior citizens, orphans and abandoned children and other NGOs of the state. I strongly believe that collaboration is the way to drive large scale community transformation.

• Another program is a true example of women empowerment. We believe in the right to cleanliness, or hygiene. Women inmates of Sabarmati Jail manufacture biodegradable and low-cost sanitary pads for underprivileged women and girls.

The Ahmedabad Book Club is dedicated to literary appreciation and reading, and was formed by EO member Priyanshi Patel. The club has 45,000-plus online members. It provides a platform for online literary discussions and conversations with authors.

The Science Club encourages adults and children to experience science in new and engaging ways.

There are so many other initiatives we’re working on. I would like to thank the whole Karma team, including volunteers and interns, who support and encourage the soul of the foundation. May we reach our future goals successfully.

Learn more about the Karma Foundation and donate here. 

How has your work changed since COVID-19 appeared?

COVID-19 closed the entire nation. Even in this hazardous situation, we tried to make 35,000 food packets every day for children and needy.

We would like to thank donors. We are able to run the same cycle every day, and this would not be possible without their donations. It would be just next to impossible. A big thank you to everybody, triggering infinite positivity.

What challenges did you face in delivering meals during the coronavirus shutdown?

We believe that if the spirit inside is bigger than anything else across you, you can win. So we did not consider these big challenges.

Yes, we wondered how in this complete lockdown, people who earn everyday wages to feed their families, how will they manage? For them, it would be like, “bhookh lagi hai, lekin kama ke kha nai sakte” (hungry but can’t eat). In this critical situation, we thought for 24 hours, how we will manage the things? how we will work? how we will all work together at the same place when social distancing is mandatory?

We called up my friend and the volunteers. All 70 volunteers and my friend arrived in the same hour. I would like to salute the volunteers and the core team because in three hours, they prepared 10,750 food packets.

karma foundation IndiaIt was very important to follow the requirements of COVID-19. Not only do these rules protect our volunteers and maintain cleanliness while we pack the food, but they also protect the people who are eating from the packets.

As we all know, the heat of Ahmedabad is extreme. We arranged fans with sanitizers, so that clean air can be maintained. As there was a national curfew, we needed permission for volunteers to travel. We worked with local police to ensure food reached the right people.

We were determined to put our mark on the city, trying to reach every individual who is suffering, despite the very high expenditure. It costs almost $2,000 to deliver 12,000 food packets every day.

How has EO supported your efforts?

The most important thing EO has taught us is the value of sharing experiences with your peers. EO also teaches us to lead by example.

I made sure that I was present at the camp every day during the 45 days we worked through COVID-19 restrictions—not only managing operations but also packaging food. In spite of having broken leg and plaster on my leg, my spirit did not subside. I was motivated not to miss a single day.

Also, EO chapter members and most of my forum members visited the camp regularly. In this way, EO has also played a prominent role to make this camp successful.

Read more ways the members of EO are making a difference during the COVID-19 global crisis.

The post Feeding the Hungry, Despite National Crisis appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.



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6 Ways To Incorporate SEO While Building A Business in 2020

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There’s no quick fix, or “one and done” solution when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). You have to be prepared to play the long game to see the full advantages of SEO when developing a site — and it’s worth it to see your site rank highly on search engine result pages.

That said, there are some methods that will give you a quick boost. Shift more attention to the most significant ranking factors and tactics that will give your site the ability to rise to the top of the search results this year.

Choose a Responsive Design

User experience is a big deal these days. Google loves to serve its users the best results possible. If your website isn’t easy to use on a mobile device, you’re going to suffer a setback in ranking. Think about it, have you ever landed on a site where you had to zoom in to read the text and scroll side-to-side to read all of the content? This was most likely the desktop version of a website. It was made for larger screens and doesn’t reformat to fit on different screen sizes.

Responsive sites will resize images and reorganize the blocks of content according to the size of the screen. If you want to test whether a website is responsive, open up a web page on a desktop or laptop. From the full screen, shrink the window by clicking and dragging, and you’ll see the sidebars move, the navigation and header will take on new positions and the content and images will line up differently. 

Mobile search volume accounts for more than half of the total searches made online (see chart below). A responsive, mobile friendly site is no longer an option, but a necessity, when it comes to providing an enjoyable user experience.

Create Keyword Clusters

Making a list of keywords that your ideal audience would use to find the content you’re offering will also boost your SEO ranking. Plug each keyword into a keyword tool to generate additional ideas. Assess the best options for keywords to include in your content strategy by grouping them into pools based on search intent. You’ll notice that many of those keyword options will be subtopics large enough to write an entire blog post about, in which you can provide more detailed content optimized for a related keyword.

For example, if you own a home improvement business, a central page on your site would be kitchen renovation. And because there are so many choices to make when renovating a kitchen, you could then go into depth and create a new page for every option, from counter tops and backsplash tile to faucets and refrigerators. When you’re planning your content, structure the website to feature central pages that are optimized for the most central, competitive keywords and most important aspects of your business.

Publish articles on the related subtopics in full detail in order to provide as much information on those major keyword topics, to show your expertise in your field, and to demonstrate authority within the content of your site. Google looks for this as partial evidence of your status as an expert in your niche.

Google also loves when there is a distinct organizational structure. By linking the subtopic posts to your major product pages, you signal what pages are most important to your site by creating a keyword cluster.

Image source: https://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/3-information-architecture/3-site-structure.html

Optimize Your Content

On-page optimization enhances the likelihood of your page being ranked for your target keywords. Avoid keyword stuffing and place your keywords strategically. For instance, use your target keywords in the front end of your titles, and keep your titles under 60 characters or they will get cut off in the search display.

Place your keyword in your URL. The most effective URLs are those that are under 5 words and summarize the title or content on the page. Keywords should also be included in the meta description. Using your keyword in the beginning of the meta description will improve the click-through rate for users. As will placing your keyword within the first 100 words in the first paragraph of your content, and using keywords and keyword synonyms in the subtitles.

Use structured data markup whenever possible. If you can provide a rich snippet, you may get a boost in the position your site is displayed.

Make Your Pages Quick and Nimble

With a heavy emphasis on user experience, page speed can make a huge difference in how your site performs. If you’re an ecommerce site, it becomes extremely important because every second your page takes to load will cost your business money from lower conversions.

 graph-seo-png

 mPulse Mobile Case Study on Page Speed Vs Conversion Rates, Image source: https://digitalducats.com/page-speed/

Test your mobile page speed here. You can improve your site speed by reducing image file sizes, using plugins, and using a content delivery network to give your website additional page speed.

  • To reduce the size of your images use Kraken or Smush.
  • W3 Cache is one of the most popular WordPress plugins that increase page speed, but you can decide for yourself by choosing one from this list.
  • Choose a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to reduce your pages load time from a list of options here.

Get Other Sites to Link to You

Establishing credibility and authority is a necessity to be competitive in search results. Backlinks are a powerful way to prove that your content is credible and authoritative because essentially it is being endorsed by the websites that link to you. But stay away from paid links, or any link scheme used to manipulate ranking in an underhanded way. Unnatural linking will lead to penalties and should be avoided altogether.

One approved method of link building is to become a guest author. There are guest posting sites in every niche and having knowledge about your business is all you need to create an article that can be submitted to a site for publication. It may take a few weeks to get a response, and you may need a few submissions before receiving acceptance. Get into a routine for guest posting to build backlinks as fast as possible.

Ask People to Share Your Content

A social network is a priceless asset for expanding your audience and getting more traffic to your website. Build your network by being active on the social media site that has the most impact on your business.

Install social sharing icons on your site and include a call to action to get the most shares. A retweet study revealed that content with share icons received 4 times as many retweets with the phrase “Please RT”.

Conclusion

Although there is a lot to put together to achieve a first page result, it’s a long-term game plan. Start building your website with SEO in mind to give your site the best chance at the top positions in search results.

 



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9 tips on how to reach your goals

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Most successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and other high-achievers need to have some sort of goals set out to know where to aim. Pursuing a goal is something everybody does, some people talk about it and some people don't even think about it. Some say that you shouldn't tell anyone about your goals, but that's another story.

9 tips on how to reach your goals

First of all, you got to have goals to be able to reach them. The second step is going after them, and this part is something that many people miss even if it seems obvious. Here's a list with tips to use:

1. Start now

So many people want to do things but never start. I understand if you have several big goals that are hard to pursue at the same time, but if you haven't started with any of your goals then do it today, now! Most of us have around 16 hours awake, most of us have something that gives us food on the table and roof over our head, also knows as a job. The job usually takes around 8 hours a day depending on how and what you work with. But then it's 8 hours left. If you have a goal use at least 2 of those 8 hrs of free time to start pursuing your goal. 2 hrs every day is 14 hrs per week and around 60 hrs per month. A pretty good amount of work can be done during that time without even quitting your job.

2. Don't quit your job if you don't have to.

This is something I did, and I don't regret it. But if I knew what I know now I would have at least had a halftime job in the beginning. Of course, you maybe don't have a goal or a dream of starting your own company or what have you. But if your goal takes a lot of time I know your thoughts will go that way. Before you quit your job to free up more time, save up for a decent "runway" if things take longer than you thought.

3. Be prepared that it won't be easy.

As the famous quote from Art William says: "I'm not telling you it's going to be easy – I'm telling you it's going to be worth it" For example to build a successful company, or to get healthier or learn how to code, or whatever your goals are. It's not going to be easy, and it's better to be prepared for a lot of hard work than a dance on roses. But if it's your goal and it is what makes you happy, then you won't notice the hard things because you know where you're going and you love the thing you do. That brings us into the 4:th bullet.

4. Don't pursue goals that aren't yours.

If you go after a goal and you're not sure why then it's going to be hard to reach that goal, and maybe not even worth the time you spend doing it. You have to be able to find a good enough reason for yourself even if you are pursuing it with someone else.

5. Track and measure your goals.

Use an app, journal, or notebook to track and measure your progress. It's easy to just keep going and miss the goal, which maybe is your goal, to go further(?). To have a point to measure is good just to know where you are on the journey and it's easy to set up. Always begin with breaking down your goal into smaller parts that seem more manageable. There is no right or wrong way of doing this, but if you read this post you'll get a good picture of how I do it. When you have smaller parts of your goal you can start setting those as timed goals, as for an example: "I'm going to make this part in one month". It will be both rewarding and "easier" to get small wins along the way.

6. Can you reach your goal today?

If one of your goals is something you want to buy or maybe something you want to do that costs money, then it's possible you can do it today even if you don't have all the money, without taking a stupid loan.
What you could do instead of taking a stupid loan is to break up the cost and pay it over a short period, just make sure you count everything in so you don't end up making a bad decision. But sometimes your goal is closer than you think.

7. Work hard.

This point can't be said in another way. Don't skip sleep and don't forget to sometimes take a break, but no one has succeeded without working hard. No one. And if they haven't worked hard, have they succeeded then? Or have they just finished what they set up to do?
"Working hard" for me isn't just sitting and working 18 hours in a row. Working hard can be so many things, like doing the hard things that bring you closer to where you want to go. Here's a tool for goal-tracking and daily prioritization.

8. Have patience.

Things take time. So don't expect things to happen overnight (it can but don't expect it), and don't forget the journey and the adventure on the way reaching your goal. There's a good saying about it: "They are worried about their years while wasting their days." And here's another quote: "You don't want to hear the story about how it felt when they reached the goal, you want to hear the story about how they reached the goal."

9. Don't listen to much what others say.

This one is hard. Especially today when it's so incredibly easy to get overwhelmed with information. But it's more about don't listen to what others think about what you do. If your goal is what truly makes you happy, then you should pursue it whatever others think. Taking advice from others is another thing, but you should not just listen blindly and make your decisions out of that. Try talking to different people and then take every answer you get and mix it into your own decision (if that makes any sense).

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