Facebook unveiled a “Donate Now” button today to make it much easier for non-profits to take contributions. A nice side effect for its business? The button will collect credit card numbers and other billing info for Facebook that could aid its ecommerce and gaming initiatives.
19 non-profit launch partners will start displaying the Donate Now button at the tops of their Facebook Pages and bottom of their News Feed posts. These include DonorsChoose.org (a personal favorite), Boys And Girls Club Of America, World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF, Red Cross, and Kiva. After some more testing, Facebook will open the feature to additional non-profits, who can sign up for access here.
Thanks to the Donate Now button, instead of forcing users off Facebook and away from their friends, these organizations can now accept donations in a pop-up window right on Facebook. Users can choose how much they want to give and either enter payment details or use ones already stored with Facebook. The pop-up could boost conversion rates and get more funds to needy projects. The Donate Now button also gives people an easy way to share the call for donations with friends, helping philanthropy go viral. Facebook is not charging a fee to process donations.
Sadly, some people believe that corporations are all evil and there’s no way they could actually be staffed by decent human beings that want to help non-profits. But Facebook seems genuinely determined to help these causes, even if there’s no denying that the button could also aid its business. It’s a part of a trend of for-profit businesses launching philanthropy initiatives that could earn them money in the long run. Facebook backs Internet.org, an internet accessibility project for the developing world that could also get more people signed up for its social network. And just this morning, Comcast announced multi-million dollar backing for online education resource Khan Academy in hopes of attracting more low-income families to its reduced-price broadband service.
[Update: Perhaps Facebook should make it easier to delete your credit card info after donating. Right now you can go to your payment account settings and remove your credit cards. Adding a link there or delete button to the donate flow itself would make it easier…but would also make it tougher to donate to other non-profits in the future.]
Facebook is behind in the race to collect credit card numbers compared to app store owners like Apple and Google, and ecommerce juggernauts like Amazon. Not having payment details on file creates a barrier to people buying virtual goods in Facebook Games, or buying Facebook Gift cards for friends. The moral imperative to donate to a worthy cause could get users over the hump to keying in their credit card number or connecting another billing service like PayPal.
More payment info on file will also bolster Facebook’s latest ecommerce push: Autofill With Facebook. The system lets third-party mobile apps integrate a button in the checkout flow that lets users quickly pull in their billing and shipping info from Facebook without much typing.
Facebook doesn’t collect a fee or revenue share, but instead plans to use purchase data it peeks on through Autofill to prove the return on investment of its ads. If you click an ad to download JackThreads’ ecommerce app, use Autofill With Facebook to import your payment info that you previously entered through the Donate Now button, and make a purchase, Facebook can tell advertisers just how much money their marketing message earned them.
Again, these indirect boosts to Facebook’s business provided by Donate Now might not have been what drove Facebook to build the button, but they’re a convenient synergy. Connecting people to their friends and non-profits just so happens to make it easier to connect them to advertisers as well.
In an email sent out to users this week, the team says that they’ve been beta testing the hosted version with “several thousand” people over the past month, and it’s now ready for launch. Though it isn’t yet switched on for everybody.
Founded by former WordPress UI Group Deputy Head John O’Nolan, and WordPress developer Hannah Wolfe, Ghost is looking to make a name for itself by focusing on pure publishing and blogging. Think WordPress…but simplified. Thus far, you’ve had to arrange your own hosting to use the platform, however we did know that a hosted product was on the way. In the original Kickstarter blurb, it said:
“The majority of the problems which exist with self-hosted blogs, exist due to complications with hosting. That’s something we want to solve. We’re setting up world-class hosted platform that allows you to set up a new Ghost blog in just a couple of clicks
You’ll need hosting for your blog no matter what, but our service will be the most powerful way of running Ghost – and the easiest to get started with.”
The hosted pricing varies by number of blogs and traffic – the bigger your site(s), the more you pay. And if you’re a behemoth that reels in millions of eyeballs a month, well, you’ll have to negotiate the price it seems.
Ghost is actually a not-for-profit organization, so the hosted incarnation is basically to fund the broader service. All the money will go back into developing and improving the software, as well as paying for more developers.
You can sign-up here, and once your account has been approved for a hosted service, the first month will be free. So you’re able to jump ship if you’re not a fan after the first thirty or so days.
For some people, social media is baked into their lives – not a minute or a meal can pass without it being shared with the world. Those people won’t want to use Relaxed, a tool that will respond to Facebook mentions and Tweets directed at you on your behalf.
There’s not the most advanced set of responses to choose from (although you can of course set your own) and it will always include the autorelaxed.com URL at the end, but if you’re the kind of person that likes to take a step back from social media over the holidays, it’s a simple tool for setting something akin to an out of office email responder.
To use it, you just connect your chosen account(s) to the service, set a message and a date the auto-responder should start and stop. Once that’s done, you’re all set. It should be noted that while it will happily send your response to private (as well as public) messages on Facebook, it can’t respond to Direct Messages on Twitter.
Whether or not it somewhat defeats the purpose of social media, by removing the social aspect, is up to you to decide.
As a startup founder, hiring your first developer will be one of most crucial decisions you ever make. And if you can’t tell the difference between PHP and Python, the decision will be one of the most precarious, too. Without any tech game of your own, how do you know what kind of developer to look for? How can you find someone who’s going to do the job right?
The reality right now is that every time a company like Instagram blows up, thousands of startups emerge to follow in its footsteps. There aren’t enough quality developers to meet this demand, so competition is steep. Here are a few tips to help you find one.
Figure out what you really need.
If you’re a true coding n00b, you can spend months learning about the different languages — never mind how to actually develop. To avoid getting bogged down in infinite research, first pause to take stock of your needs.
Two pivotal questions to start:
1. What do you need your website to do? Having a site doesn’t necessarily entail hiring a developer. Are you simply publishing info about your company, or does your site “do” something? The minute you need it to interact with your users, it’s wise to at least talk to a developer.
2. What are you trying to build? Is your big idea a mobile “thing,” a web “thing,” or both? If the answer isn’t 100% “web,” you need to find somebody with demonstrable mobile experience. Otherwise, you’ll be paying for that web developer to learn mobile on your dime.
Find someone to do your vetting.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell a good developer from a dud based on a resume alone. I’ve interviewed people with 10 years of development experience at brand name companies who shocked me with how little they actually knew.
Coding isn’t a field that requires a license or peer review, which is why you’ll need somebody to help you vet your candidates. This step is mandatory, because even if you do your due diligence, you don’t know everything you don’t know.
Like in most industries, good old-fashioned face-to-face networking goes a long way. Ask for recommendations, or find a tech friend who’s willing to review your candidates for a few beers (or, you know, money). If there’s no one on your radar yet, introduce yourself to the local developer community by joining a co-working space or attending meetups — you can figure out which ones are worth your time by looking for lots of recent activity and positive reviews.
Understand a developer’s psychology.
The best way to attract a top developer is to think like one. Most developers, especially the best ones, are in love with what they do. (I’ve been obsessed with it ever since my mom showed me the ropes in BASIC when I was 8.) Coding is, well, art for nerds. We do it because there’s nothing else we’d rather do than solve puzzles all day. Think about it: how many business administration hackathons have you heard about lately?
So how do you talk to a developer? Be honest about what you’re looking for, but don’t turn every conversation into a transaction. Explain your basic idea, and ask them how they’d approach it from a technical perspective. Once they’re building it in their head, they’re a whole lot closer to wanting to build it in real life.
Get real about money.
Developers may dress like they’re delivering food to your office, but they’re professionals who demand respect.
When recruiting, it’s important to be realistic about your company’s position and what you can offer. If you have a demonstrable path to success — for instance, VC funding, industry connections, and a prototype — it’s likely you can attract solid talent with single digit equity percentages (note: these figures are for your very first tech hire).
If you have nothing but an idea and a smile, you’re looking for a full partner — and it had better be the best idea of all time. One thing to keep in mind: during this process, you will get emails about offshore teams. Unless you know the locale or a native who’s willing to help you navigate it, this is a risk you probably don’t want to take.
And while money matters (the average developer makes 88K) most care more about what they’ll actually be doing. If you can demonstrate that you’re equally passionate about your own projects, you’ll be on your way to startup success. But if you’re just looking to fill an empty slot in a spreadsheet, it’s going to be a lot harder.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
A recent survey found that 70% of people are more likely to look for a new job after vacation. Realistically speaking, with the holidays and the accompanying vacation days just around the corner, there’s a chance a few of your employees are looking to jump ship. And that’s bad news for two reasons. First, if they’re unhappy, that could reflect poorly on the company culture, morale and/or management. Second, it costs 20% of an annual salary to replace a mid-level employee, and it could cost 213% of a year’s salary to replace a C-suiter, according to a study by CAP [PDF].
Odds are, you lack the time, money and patience to recruit a new slew of hires, so we’ve done you a favor and rounded up tips and tactics for building employee retention and fostering a happy workplace that makes people want to stick with you.
"We don’t say we have a great culture because we have a keg, or do fun events as a company," says Alexis Lamster, director of people and culture at Carrot Creative, which has a maximum turnover rate of 3% in an industry that averages 30%. “Culture is about the shared values of a group of people … By supporting our culture in hiring and in the brands we choose to work with, our employees have a stronger sense of loyalty and, in return, are more invested in their jobs.”
Read on for eight essential tips for employee retention for your small business. You’ll notice that there tends to be some overlap between several of these tactics; that’s because cultivating a strong company culture is complex, and it requires a holistic approach and a lot of dedication. But it’s worth it — just ask your employees.
1. Have a Mission
Millennials, in particular, want to feel like their work is making a difference — they don’t want to be just another cog in the machine. They’re drawn to innovative young companies helmed by social entrepreneurs — think TOMS, Pencils of Promise and Warby Parker — that are simultaneously cool and impactful.
"Have a purpose that’s bigger than your company," says Moon Kim, VP at M Booth, adding that your company should “make a difference in the world.” But even if your business isn’t built around an altruistic mission, you can bake social good into your business plan — you just need to be “mindful of others and seek to do good whenever possible,” says Kim.Method brings water to impoverished areas, Chalkfly invests profits in teachers, Privy helps small businesses master web marketing and Greatist helps people be healthier. You don’t need to be Mother Teresa, but you should show you care about other people and your community, not just your profits.
2. Give Employees Ownership
Has anyone ever enjoyed being micromanaged? People work best — and are happiest — when they have ownership, when they can solve problems their way and express their individuality. (By “ownership,” we don’t necessarily mean equity.)
"Benefits and perks are important, but from our perspective, it’s all about empowering employees," says Zohar Dayan, CEO of Wibbitz. Especially in a small business, every person counts, and everyone’s contribution should be both obvious and valued. “Whether it be an open-door policy on ways to improve everything from marketing to the product to the office atmosphere, or regular team brainstorms,
when your employees feel that they can tangibly impact the direction of the company, they’re more likely to throw themselves fully behind the cause.”
when your employees feel that they can tangibly impact the direction of the company, they’re more likely to throw themselves fully behind the cause.”
ZenPayroll CEO Josh Reeves recently wrote a blog post about building a team of owners and the importance of letting employees know their work and opinions are heard and valued. Employees should have a stake in the company — they’re not just working for The Man. “The #1 way we boost morale is by empowering people to do their best work and letting everyone act as owners, not just employees,” says Reeves. “That can mean any number of things, from sharing extremely detailed information about the company’s finances and future plans, to letting people choose paint colors and decorations for our new office.”
At Hire Space in London, teammates design their own workspace — a decision based on a study that found employees who had control over the layout of their workspace were 32% more productive. Whether they want a stand-up desk, some plants or a stability ball, these employees feel more comfortable (physically and mentally) and efficient in their space. “It’s a really simple change, and we’ve seen a real effect on our staff’s ownership of their workplace and a measurable improvement on productivity,” says Reuben Sagar, marketing manager at Hire Space.
It’s also essential that the person have a path of growth within your company and gain increasing ownership. “When hiring, we actively think about what new employees’ careers will look like with us — not just what they’ll do day to day, but how they’ll fit into our structure, and whether we can create management or leadership opportunities for them in the future,” says Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO of The Muse. Periodically, the team then revisits those conversations to determine how the teammates can evolve, take on more responsibility and own more projects. “Helping employees grow within your company lets them know you’re committed for the long haul,” says Minshew.
3. Get People Talking to Each Other
It’s easy to fall into a silo and only talk to and work with people within your own department. If your company is growing quickly or has several offices or remote workers, some employees might not even recognize each other — but it’s essential that they know and engage with one another. Whether you’re using Skype, HipChat, Campfire, Slack or Honey, encouraging teammates to interact will make employees feel more connected to and informed about their company and one another. In fact, Honey was born out of necessity — it was built to meet parent company Huge’s internal communications needs and saw great success, so it spun it off into a separate company in June and is now used by ShopKeep,EMyth, Lyft and Fueled.
Even a weekly videoconference can go a long way. Sure, it might temporarily dampen productivity to have the whole team in one big meeting, but on the upside, they get a chance to see what other departments are working on and how everyone’s contributing to the overall mission (which also feeds the sense of ownership).
Formstack has company-wide video-conferences weekly and recently did an all-hands conference in Indianapolis for a week of face-to-face team-building and planning. “It was a great way to spend time with our remote employees and make sure everyone is working toward a common vision,” says Chris Byers, Formstack’s CEO. Two heads are better than one, especially when they have different backgrounds — your data scientist might have an interesting idea for the marketing team, and your business development team might suggest something cool for the tech team, so you should foster cross-departmental conversations, both IRL and online.
"By creating a culture where employees know and respect each other, small businesses can boost employee morale, create better communication and collaboration and improve long-term results," says Jené Kapela, principal and founder of Jené Kapela Leadership Solutions.
4. Provide (and Ask for) Regular Feedback
People dread yearly reviews because it’s often the only time they get feedback — and what if they’ve been unknowingly doing something wrong in the 364 days since last year’s review? Reviews are the exact opposite of ripping a Band-Aid off — a little tug here and there actually saves pain (and frustration!) in the long run.
"When it comes to retaining talent, one tactic I’ve often found crucial is implementing informal weekly and formal quarterly check-ins prevents disconnects," says Maynard Webb, author of Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship. “Don’t wait till the end of the year to inform employees they weren’t doing well, or not as well as their perception led them to believe.”
And don’t forget that feedback is a two-way street. Fred Bateman, founder and CEO ofBateman Group is proud of his company’s 5% or less turnover over the past 10 years, and he attributes this retention rate to his company’s “10 Rules for Maintaining Low Employee Turnover.” One of the standout ones is to make sure everyone understands they have a voice, regardless of title, and that their voice is heard loud and clear by senior management at all times.
Plated, a Techstars food-delivery service, has quarterly employee happiness surveys that enable employees to provide feedback related to perks, onboarding, morale and benefits, says Rachel Karten, Plated’s manager of people operations.
"I think a leader’s willingness to have difficult conversations is the single-most underrated management skill out there — but only those conversations will give you a true read on your employees’ morale," says Allyson Downey, co-founder and CEO of weeSpring. “It starts with an environment that encourages everyone to speak up, but also requires pushing for truly candid feedback on your own performance … and then accepting it!”
One way to build trust and enable these honest conversations is to make a commitment to transparency — it’ll open the lines of communication. At HubSpot, every employee at every level has access to every board deck, and can ask questions of the founders and management team at monthly SpotLight meetings, says HubSpot’s Katie Burke.
5. Have a Culture Committee
It’s hard to make sure your employees are engaged and having fun, so you should task a team to own “people operations” and culture. “We aim to make Carrot a home more than an office and a family more than a staff, with welcome drinks for new employees, large gatherings (i.e. Thanksgiving potluck dinner), a softball team, committees and subsidized perks,” says Lamster, who adds that Carrot’s committees aren’t your typical corporate groups. “We fund people’s passions to help make the company better,” she says. Bitches Be Bakin’ makes delicious treats to celebrate everyone’s carrotversary, the Brew Crew Committee ensures the keg is always full, and the Carrot Cares Committee finds opportunities for the company to give back to the community. “These committees create a ground-up way for every person at Carrot to contribute to and be a part of making this the place they want to be.”
Similarly, the spirit committee at M Booth encourages bonding across the agency and helps to make office life fun, whether it’s a wheel of fortune at staff meetings (previous prize: a Zombie Makeup 101 class) or a group outing to a Nets Game. “Our spirit committee keeps people happy because it shows that we want to foster community, we value each employee and are thinking about them,” says Lauren Martiello, creative strategist and chair of the spirit committee.
Cashmere Agency in L.A. has a five-person culture club but also encourages the whole team to step up. “We have a very diverse range of employees with different backgrounds, so we create activities (inside and outside the office) that allow everyone to learn and understand the cultures their colleagues come from,” says agency VP Ryan Ford. This includes an annual cook-off that requires ethnic dishes, as well as field trips to cultural events around L.A.
6. Encourage The Team to Live the Brand
Your employees need to be passionate about the brand and your mission; thusly, your job is to encourage them to live the brand. This creates twofold results: It reminds them why they work for your company, and it ignites passions that can be shared with your customers.
"People are our most valuable asset, and the more we take care of them, the more they will take care of our guests," says Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of sweetgreen, a lifestyle brand that purveys salads and rallies around a healthy, passionate living and sustainability. “We want to build a company that creates unusual combinations that inspire, a company full of employees that truly live the sweetlife.” The employees have access to free salads, a concert and speaker series, community service opportunities, a running club, free fitness classes and a gym subsidy to help them embody the brand.
Likewise, Fancred, a social network geared toward sports fans, offers employees $200 per month for two tickets to any sporting event. “It reinforces our mission and sends a loud message that things are different here and we really believe in what we are doing,” says Fancred CEO Kash Razzaghi.
At Plated, each teammate gets four plates per week — yes, it’s free food, but it also helps the team become familiar with the service’s offerings and recipes, so they can make knowledgeable recommendations and provide the operations team with direct feedback. They’re always immersed in Plated and become even stronger brand ambassadors because of it.
7. Place a Premium on Employee Health
Image: Flickr, will ockenden
The companies with superior retention rates are the ones that recognize that wellness is essential to productivity.
The companies with superior retention rates are the ones that recognize that wellness is essential to productivity. Messaging platform imooffers a housing stipend for employees who live within walking or biking distance of work, has treadmill desks to keep the team active and subsidizes a free membership to Equinox.
“We have created an atmosphere focused on wellness within the workplace,” says CEO Ralph Harik. “Finding time outside of work to exercise is often tough, and we’ve found that these benefits have helped increase productivity and boost company morale.”
Wellness isn’t just physical, it’s mental, too. If you notice someone starting to burn out, nip it in the bud. Minshew recommends setting a cut-off time, when the person should turn off their computer and cellphone, in addition to encouraging vacation days and taking a lunch hour. “They’re all small things, but they can help prevent burnout in the long run,” says Minshew.
8. Recognize That Perks Are Nice, But They’re Not the Ticket to Retention
Yes, perks make people happy. You can’t beat free lunch, free health insurance, unlimited vacation days or flexible hours. But people mistake culture with perks.
"People think culture translates to parties, vacation, and non-business-y policies. I disagree — culture is the personality of the business, and you have to mean it and stick to it inside and outside of the company," says Brandon Kessler, founder and CEO of ChallengePost. He says that there’s not one magic formula for culture; in fact, he cites three examples of different cultures. Companies with a cutthroat culture (Wall Street), an open, transparent, and highly productive culture (many startups), and a highly secretive culture (Apple) have all managed to find success. “Studies show successful companies that actually have a culture and stick to it are the ones who win. If you are starting a company, you should be as focused on the culture you want to have as you are on your product. It’s much easier and more authentic to define it at the beginning than later on.”
At the end of the day, you need to value your employees and, importantly, let them knowthey’re valued. If you’re looking for more insights, check out Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness as well as HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah’s SlideShare about company culture, which has amassed more than 1 million views to date:
The future is coming, and it’s going to be manufactured in a whole new way.
3D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing, so GE decided to give it its own holiday: 3D Printing Day. They’re celebrating by designing and 3D-printing holiday gifts for their fans all day on December 3. After all, even elves deserve a break for the holidays, right?
But what exactly are 3D-printed things made of, and how will the process influence the way manufacturers work? Take a look at seven things you probably didn’t know about 3D printing, and join the 3D Printing Day celebration with the hashtag #3DPrintMyGift.
1. 3D Printing Started With Lasers
The early days of 3D printing were the 1980s, when computers would trace a pattern that was submerged in a liquid polymer. The traced pattern hardened into a layer, thanks to the laser, and that was how you built an object out of plastic. The term “stereolithography" refers to creating 3D plastic objects through this layering, or "additive," technique.
2. Modern 3D Printers Work Like Your Inkjet
There have been a number of incarnations between the days of stereolithography and now, but in 2013 a newer method of 3D printing is called material extrusion. By this method, a printer builds up an object out of matter that is pushed from a mechanical head, in some ways just like your inkjet produces text on a page by extruding ink onto paper.
3. You Can 3D Print Almost Anything (Even Chocolate!)
3D printing can now create things out of concrete, synthetic stone, ceramics, even chocolate and cheese. Some 3D printers are pushing the envelope with substances such as metal — laying down fine layers of stainless steel or aluminum, and then using a laser or an electron beam to “glue” them together. “We are already seeing custom body implants and ready-to-wear fashion and housewares,” Lewis says. “Add to that 3D-printed organs, bone scaffolding and the next generation of jet engines. We believe that the barrier to what 3D printing will do is generally imposed by the limits of our imaginations.”
4. 3D Printing Means Less Waste in Production
In the past, to make something, you drilled, cut, and filed away what you needed from a quantity of base material. That meant a heap of leftover scrap material. With 3D printing, it’s an additive process: You build up an object from the base material. Think about the implications. The factory buyer should see a difference in the amount of waste associated with each manufactured part.
5. Manufacturing Risks Less With 3D Printing
With 3D printing, the whole equation of scale changes. Instead of attaching a different mold to every machine for every object, the 3D printer switches what it makes, in most cases, by dint of what the computer is telling its extrusion head to do. And so, one no longer has to make thousands of a product to reap the benefits of setting up a facility to make the piece. Manufacturing becomes more nimble and less financially risky.
6. Everybody Gets What They Want
A car manufacturer could create even the most niche component for a dash or cabin without having to justify the part by the volume of orders. A home goods maker could craft offerings to particular regions, climates, and lifestyles without having to convince their board or partners that millions of buyers are ready to pay. “More and more we want to pick products that speak to us as individuals, and to stay relevant more and more companies are looking to break out with custom or personalized products that they create or can be co-created with the consumer,” Lewis says.
7. 3D Printing Could Mean Stronger Local Business Models
Manufacturing, says Lewis, could become a regionally focused idea because of 3D printing. “The next 10 years are going to be about localized actions, including manufacturing,” she says. “While this trend will not totally eliminate manufacturing as we know it, it will disrupt and transform the manufacturing paradigm and allow us to selectively re-localize and enable us to manufacture the future.”
All of this without a mention of what home 3D printing might do for individuals so inclined. One day, the discussion may not be about where our printed products were manufactured; the question will be, in which room of our house did we download and create the things we want?
Prototyping Online: Not Without Effort
Will things change from the ground up? Probably, but not during the next few years. Prototyping with a visual touch is best done in Photoshop or other visually oriented software. At least as long as you are skilled enough to use them. With a tool such as Photoshop your prototype takes you only a idea and a little time. No code will be harmed during the making of this mock-up. The result, depending on your ideas, taste and skills, will definitely be more appealing than a simple wire-frame or a coded click demo.
In the past I actually took Powerpoint for a ride, when a client demanded the prototype to be rudimentarily interactive. Need I mention, that this does work, yet isn’t a very straightforward solution? With the effort being relatively high, this mode of operation is restricted to larger projects only.
The brand-new web and iOS app Marvel is a late entry to the game. But, better late than never. Marvel aims directly at designers who work the way I just described. Create a visual mockup in PSD (or other) and put it into your Dropbox. Then fire up Marvel and load the PSD into the app. Use simple tools to create hot spots and click targets. Add transitions and you’re good to go.
The following video offers a good first impression: