Extra Credit — Competitor SWOT analysis

This post is about SWOT analysis of TinEye, a competitor of my startup company — imageInfo. Traditional image search engine or companies use user input string then find relative images. Unlike traditional ones, imageInfo search images with images. More specifically, imageInfo is a Google Chrome extension. Whenever user search an image, imageInfo will pop-up relative images for user reference and selection. We know search engine are powerful, Google, Bing, and Yahoo they got billion even trillion images in their database. But most time too much irrelevant data shown when we do image searching, and imageInfo is designed to solve this situation. 

When doing the research of image searching, I found TinEye this cool company. This company does exactly what I to build except for different platform. I’ve studied its website and decided to do it SWOT analysis. First of all, the strength part. TinEye has its own database with 17.9 billion images (and it’s increasing), that’s a huge database contains lots of image data. Furthermore, it can search the image from your local of URL link to return relative images. They are not using image name but using their own algorithm to fetch the image data then find out matching images. The most important thing is, it’s really fast. I search an image with a modified name only took 0.7 seconds. This is super incredible, I want to join their team more than running my own one.

Next part is weakness, to be honest, I can’t find its weakness. Its algorithm is fast and it has open API for developer pay to use their code. They also support extensions for Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. The only thing comes to my mind is if I can integrate with Google database or other search engine, maybe I have chance to compete with TinEye. 

For the opportunity, TinEye has everything I want to achieve except for expanding the database. It makes me wonder I should consider them as a partner, not a competitor. I can use their API to launch my app, and it can do the back-end search for me. All I need to do is working on the front-end and the application. 

Finally, the threatens. When you using other company’s API means your company rely on their technology. If the price goes up or they start to build the same app, it could be a huge impact to my business. 

Overall, I think I will start my own company using TinEye’s API. At the meantime, I will apply their software engineer to see the technology they use. How they achieve this result? I’m glad that people have same ideas like I do, and I will learn this skill and let’s see if I can use at better application.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


Dot com to Dot bomb to Dot ?

Dot com to Dot bomb to Dot ?

Mr. Fry introduced the dot.com to dot.bomb in class, and we talked about companies survived or became bombs. In early 90’s, big companies like Prodigy, CompuServ, Genie, AOL, and Deliphi all had more than 100,000 user ownership, some even owned more than 1 million. At 1993, plenty of internet companies thrived and HTTP is only 2 years old, every thing goes great. The next year, companies kept expanding.  More new internet companies are out and the second international World Wide Web conference were held on 1994. In 1995, Netscape went public and it became most valuable companies. However, it changed on 1995 and things went crazy.

More companies were show, giant companies like Yahoo, Amazon, USWeb pop-up. FreeZone Launched and it had 450,000 registered users at its peak. And then companies starts to merge each other, Spry was merged by CompuServ. AOL bought CompuServ. Yahoo bought Broadcast for $5.7 billion. Internet companies went IPO and the stock price went huge price. People became more greedy and underestimated fear uncertainty and doubt. In 2000, dot com companies went bust! Marchfirst and pets.com went bust. InfoSpace’s net worth was higher than Boeing, the biggest airplane maker corporation. The future of dot com companies seemed optimistic until they started to post their profits. Amazon posted the profit, it was lower than expectation. Expedia exceed the analyst exceptions. Many dot com companies went bust because lack of business plan and financial plan, and expand too fast. It’s dangerous to expand rapidly before proper evaluation.

The dot com to dot bomb brought people back to reality, but it developed the internet infrastructure. After the dot com fever, people now are more focus on application. Dot com of broadband, biomedical, machine learning catches users’ eye balls. More important, we don’t lose our believe in internet. People are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram social media as a new fashion communication. Get latest news and learn new technology through internet. More and more open source projects and online courses are available to learn knowledge. We can learn ourselves at home or coffee shop, and it’s full of chance on internet. Therefore, I would say after dot com to dot bomb, now it’s time for dot chance.


Extra Credit — Amazon Catalyst

Extra Credit-Amazon Catalyst

Amazon is biggest e-commerce company in the world, it sells almost everything on the internet. Amazon prime is Amazon prime member club. One tenth American is Amazon prime member and they are benefit from it’s special discount and 2 day free shipping fee. Meanwhile, Amazon not only does the online shopping, it also has Amazon Echo, a smart digit media streamer; AWS, stands for Amazon web services cloud. AWS is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, offers a suite of cloud-computing services that make up an on-demand computing platform. These services operate from 16 geographical regions across the world. Amazon also has its program cooperate with University of Washington CoMotion, the Amazon Catalyst.

Amazon Catalyst and UW CoMotion have teamed up to create the new Amazon Catalyst program. It encourages students to have a dream and make it happen. As long as you are UW student, faculty or alumni with technology project, you are eligible to attend Amazon catalyst program. Contestants could receive up to $100,000 funding with their ideas from this program. Lizzie Tao, Amazon Catalyst Marketing Manager at CoMotion at University of Washington, she introduced how it work at UW Tacoma on Feb 21th at Tioga library.

Lizzie showed us how the catalyst in the meeting. First catalyst committee will read all contestants’ proposals and evaluate it against the screening criteria. The criteria includes does it meets a Need? Is it a novel idea? How is it related to the public? First, meets a Need. The proposal will be evaluated by does the application fulfill/address a real need that people have, and have those people been clearly identified. Second, the novel idea means is the final product differentiated from other approaches? Is it new, creative, and maybe a little crazy? And it must be relatable to the Public. Would the solution, if carried out successfully, make a good article in a newspaper or a “BBC headline” immediately following the grant period? Lizzie also showed us other factors that are committee looking for.

Vishal, Tarik, Ryan, and me were all in the workshop, Vishal showed us what he was doing and invited us to his team. For me, it could be another intern before graduate from school. The project Vishal working on is an iOS indoor app, he want to show the related info of indoor stuff. I happen to do couple iOS projects, and my direct reading is iOS apps development. I will join his team next quarter and let’s happen. Let’s go catalyst.


Guest Post from Shadrach White

Guest Post from Sadrach White

Shadrach White, the CEO of cloudPWR, was our guest speaker today. He encouraged us to take a look at “5 Tips for Starting a Successful Business<”. He believes in money, and “Nearly every business problem can be solved with money” he said. He shared his 4 tips of his secret of successful business.

Be a revenue hawk, he mentioned several times in the talk. A successful business is meant to make decent profit for an entrepreneur and its stock holders, so always be a revenue hawk seeking best opportunity. The second one he shared is smile, be a kind person. As an entrepreneur, you want to be a problem solver. Keeping smile on your face makes people believe you can solve their problems. Another important tip is make sure there is a quiet space, stare at a window or the ocean, and do nothing but relax. It’s essential for the break, regain some energy then head back to work. The last one he suggested is to read subjects other than the business. Sometimes it’s hard to think outside the box if we keep focusing on one topic. Doing different subjects reading can expand our knowledge and networking, bring new ideas to the business.

Shad runs 4 companies, one of them is sports technology. It sells jersey for street basketball prior than And1 and Reebok. Celebrities like DMX, LL Cool J wear this jersey and it even received $300,000 from Angle funds in Florida state. Shad doesn’t have a 4-year-college degree, but he went to Charter College for 2 year computer network certification. That’s why his third and fourth businesses are about technology. He is also CTO of ImageSource, selling Box which is an enterprise storage solution. He chose government as their main customer to avoid other competitors in commercial fields. That’s the strategy of being revenue hawk.

When talking about his another business cloudPWR, he showed us their pricing strategy. Unlike traditional cloud service listing out different solutions based on users, they choose by client size to provide different services. This is quiet interesting and doesn’t leave too much area for client to bargain with the price. Once again, he demonstrated how to be a revenue hawk.


Mission statement criteria

ImageInfo is software company helps user to provide precise image searching results. Our main goal is to filter unnecessary image result and provide correct images according user preference. Google, Bing and Yahoo, they have powerful search engine and comprehensive databases. When user hit search for certain image using browser, most time irrelevant images pop-up before the preferred one is found. That is the problem we want to solve, the solution we want to present – a customized image filter base search result.

Our main product showMe is a browser based plug-in, now only available on Google Chrome. Firefox, Safari, Opera version will be released later. Our main technology takes advantage of JavaScript as framework to build to front-end plug-in, and open source TensorFlow project for back-end machine learning to train image recognition. Frist, when the search request is sent, our engine can identify the size, texture, color, position of input object. The next step we parse the result data then find out most match images from database. The last step is returning to images what user are really seeking for.

So far our product line includes all browser from Windows, masOS, Linux based browsers. We value mobile users and our iOS and Android apps are under development stage. In mobile devices, we will add gesture control and camera detection to make it even easy to use. Mobile users don’t have to type-in words, but instead using their camera to search the image details they want. We will also release our API for open source developer to enrich our community.


Guest Post from John Dimmer

Guest Post from John Dimmer

John Dimmer is our guest speaker this week, I enjoy his talk about funding which is the most important part of entrepreneurship. He worked for a bank after college before he got ready to be an entrepreneur. Then he started a company called free range media and sold it at his 40. Now he is doing Airstream business with deanship in Seattle, Oregon, and Bay area. He also plays race car enjoy the successful life.

John mentioned 2 important points of entrepreneurial, the big idea and funding. “You have to know why you launch your entrepreneurial career”, he said. Either you want to help more people or make lots of money, that’s what the big idea is. When it comes to funding, entrepreneurs want to maximize the produce/service price and maximize the ownership. Investors won’t throw funding recklessly, they want to know if the CEO/entrepreneur is skin in the game instead of talking nonsense.

When raising money, he showed the pre and post-money valuation. He also talked about the formula how to calculate the ownership percentage before and after fund raising. “Only raise the money you need”. If entrepreneur over-raises funding, his/her ownership of the business will drop. If the ownership is less than 50%, the worst case is entrepreneur get fired by the majority and his ownership get diluted, only few parts cash back. An entrepreneur must always pay attention to his/her ownership.

There are 3 sources for funding: equity, debt, and others. At the startup stage, equity or stock option is a common way to get funding. But after couple rounds of fund raising, make sure the ownership is over 50% to keep the company controlled. Lots of sharks they try to dilute the entrepreneur ownership during the fund raising then take over the business. Debt is simply to borrow from banks or SBA program. It won’t dilute the ownership but it’s difficult for startup to get a loan. Others funding options like, prize money from business plan competitors, SBIR program from government, or Veteran’s programs, these are good funding resources to start up a new business.

John analyzed the pros and cons of different funding sources, he also mentioned potential problems when fund raising. I enjoy his talk and it’s definitely helpful when I start up my own business.


Ideas protect ideas

Ideas protect ideas

Now the business ideas are waiting to be implemented, next step is how to protect the intellectual property (IP). Protect the IP also means protecting the key value. There are four ways to protect IP, let’s apply them to the business ideas.

Trade secret means a formula, design or a special information not generally known by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. For our business, the most important part is the algorithm of machine learning part. If the algorithm is designed efficient, it can deliver the search result in a short amount of time. On the other hand, if it’s designed in high search hit rate, it outputs the correct result users are looking for. One way to protect the company’s trade secret is not to use open source platform like Github for development. In my last summer intern, the company uses JIRA for internal WIKI and code storage. It’s more efficient and safer than using free and non-encrypted one.

The second one is copyright, since most of my company IP is software/code, the company should register for copyright to prevent plagiarism or any unauthorized usage. Copyright protects languages and articles, software/code are extension of languages which is also protected.

Every company should have its own iconic trademark as an unique identifier, it could be an image, symbol, name or words. I prefer image because it’s easy for people to remember and sometimes one single image tells more than words do.

The last one to protect ideas is patents, just like copyright. Patents covers inventions which are innovative and distinct to inventor or business. When developing the company product and software, we should register our patents and make sure we don’t infringe existing patents as well.

There are others way to protect IP such as non-disclosure agreement, however, these four methods are the best methods to protect business’s IP. When my business is launched, I will make sure my company takes all four methods to protect our core value.