Mesh Update

MESH certainly started off on the right foot this morning with two stellar key notes, back-to-back.  The first got us thinking about how we can make money. The second showed us how we can give it away (well sort of).

Mike Masnick, founder and CEO of Floor64

Mike Masnick, founder and CEO of Floor64, was the first keynote speaker. He went through 487 PowerPoint slides (yup, you read that right!) in just 20 minutes to get across some interesting points. During his presentation, Mike gave us a view into competitive business practices in the 1600’s, and compared them to copyright and other issues that content owners and brands are facing today.

The interesting part of his presentation, however, explained how businesses today need to find new ‘scarcities’ in what they do and take those scarcities to a larger market. He reinforced that a business model will have a multiplicative effective if it does indeed have true scarcity. The idea is to grow a community and combine it with true scarcity to generate revenues.

He showed us a couple of great examples of how this approach has worked.  One of them was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who made $1.6M by selling music you could get for free, simply by addding value. The secret sauce / formula for success: Connect with Fans (CwF) + give them a real reason to buy (RtB) = $$$.

Overall, I found his presentation to be dynamic and thought provoking. In fact, I think the idea of finding new scarcities is going to be nagging away at me every time I speak with a client.

Mike’s session was live-blogged, so you can click here to get the full scoop.

Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva.org

The second speaker was Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva.org, a peer-to-peer online microlending site. Talk about an inspiration. You could actually hear and see her excitement and passion in every word she spoke and hand gesture she made. What an unbelievable speaker. Probably one of the best I’ve ever seen.  No wonder that she’s a contender on Time Magazine’s list of the Top 100 Most Influential People (you can vote for her here: http://is.gd/oNob).

Jessica gave us a glimpse into the genesis of Kiva, and how the site has evolved. Close to $67M in loans have been made through Kiva to date. Considering that each loan is generally $25 to $50 a piece, that number is quite impressive. 

To explain what worked for Kiva in getting the organization to where it is today, Jessica focused on 5 key areas: 1) Know your mission; 2) Stay open; 3) Iterate; 4) Focus on individuals; and 5) Just start.  I think these are good rules for any of us to live by. And for other non-profits, I think this statement (relevant to #4) says it all: you can’t bond with a marketing brochure or statistic (i.e. you need to personalize the connection).  

There are a couple of great quotes from Jessica that sum up what a dynamic person she is: “Reality has outpaced my dreams”; “I’m not rich, but feel like I could retire on happiness”.

Aside from checking out Kiva in more detail to figure out which entrepreneur I want to invest in, I know the one thing that I plan to do in the future is give out Kiva gift certificates to clients as end of year gifts, instead of the usual fare. Although I have such a bad memory, I’m hoping someone will remind me of this idea when that time rolls round again.

Jessica’s session was live-blogged, so you can check out all the details here.

~ JE (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)

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