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What Does Twitter Really Do?

May 8, 2009 12:25

This week I've been working to understand the Twitter community and how it can help small companies like Makaboo. I have to be honest: so far I'm not so sure.

My friend and Makaboo's fabulous visual designer Angela Cross was the first person to explain Twitter in a way that made sense to me: in a sentence, she said she uses Twitter to connect with people she doesn't know, versus Facebook, which she uses to connect with friends and family.

Ahah! OK! But as soon as it made sense, I said "Why? Why do you want to connect with people you don't even know?" That's where things get more complicated.

Twitter makes it incredibly easy to find people who seem to have similar interests; I'm currently being followed by 180 - no, 181! - people, most of whom appear to be moms with young kids and an interest in either technology, kids' gear or both. But as soon as I started establishing these connections, it became apparent that many folks on Twitter are on for a commerical purpose (like me), and that for most, that reason is advertising (sort of like me).

If Twitter is just a community of advertisers, are we really ever going to buy anything from each other? Just because I'm following/being followed by moms doesn't mean they'll automatically be interested in what Makaboo has to offer. And even if they are interested, it doesn't mean that they'll be partial to our particular style of personalization or our user experience.

It's also clear that at the moment Twitter is still being used by a very small sub-set of the population. Diane Rehm mentions Twitter daily on her NPR show, which has a weekly audience of 1.7 million - and yet she has only 5,275 Twitter followers.

Most web-savvy folks I know say to do Twitter because it's free, not too time intensive, and can't hurt. So far, all of that seems to be true. I'll be interested to see if that remains the case.

You can of course follow me @cindyteasdale (because someone's squatting on Makaboo - but that's a whole other post).

Ooh! 183!

 

UPDATE: you can now follow us out at https://twitter.com/MakabooGifts


The (Job) Love of Your Life – Part II

April 29, 2009 18:57

The best part of Snapfish were the things you couldn’t get from 2,000 miles away. When I was in San Francisco I didn’t want to come home, and when I was in St. Louis I didn’t want to leave. Sometimes Bill would call when I’d be at the office late or out with friends, and I’d feel like he’d caught me cheating. I tried balancing for eight months, and it became clear that I couldn’t keep both lovers forever. Something had to give.

Before I moved back to St. Louis, Thursday’s all-hands meetings were one of my favorite Snapfish traditions. We'd share a few bottles of wine, run through the latest numbers, introduce new employees, and blow off a little steam before heading back to work. When I was back in St. Louis, phoning in to all-hands meetings became the low point of my weeks, a depressing reminder of everything I was missing.
 
This particular Thursday found me unshowered in my pajamas (again), teeth still unbrushed at 6pm. A forgotten ghost in the little black holes of the speaker phone, I was straining desperately to hear what everyone on the line was laughing about when my cat, who’d been lazing silently on the floor behind me, suddenly exploded into a writhing, yowling Pet Cemetary lookalike, spewing bodily fluids all over me and most of the room. Projectile style. From every orifice. Even his eyes were leaking.

I burst into sobs – sobs that no one on the other end of the line could hear over their own merriment. I couldn’t even get their attention to apologize for having to hang up. I had to leave a voicemail for my boss at his desk; you know, your typical “while you guys were having fun drinking wine my cat turned into Blair from the Exorcist so I’m taking him to the hospital and if he dies it’s all your fault” kind of voicemail.

A few weeks later, I gave my notice.

They threw two parties for me – two! My amazing first boss Deanna surprised me with a girls-only cupcake fete. They made me a wish box and every woman in the office put something meaningful and personal in it. I cried. Then we had an official happy hour to say goodbye, and it seemed like the entire company came! Engineers who I thought ate and slept under their desks came. Most of the senior team came. I cried some more.

St. Louis doesn’t have a lot of consumer software companies. I spent a few months contracting at a small shop, then joined a huge agency, and finally landed at a really nice, small, b-to-b software company.

I liked all of these jobs just fine. But about a year after leaving Snapfish, I finally figured it out: if I really wanted an experience like Snapfish again? Where I actually made stuff that people used? And I wanted to be in St. Louis? I’d probably have to build it myself.

That’s when Makaboo was born.


The (Job) Love of Your Life – Part I

April 27, 2009 16:53

Have you ever loved your job? I mean, like, really loved your job?

I’ve loved three men in my life.
I’ve only loved one job.

In 2004 I moved from St. Louis to San Francisco to work for Snapfish, then a scrappy, independent photo site.  I’d spent the preceding six years freelance writing and managing web site projects at a publicly-traded P.R.  agency in St. Louis. The offices were cold and corporate, and the clients were behemoth and bureaucratic. Everyone wore grey, and it was quiet all the time – so quiet you could hear someone licking envelopes four cubes down.

I liked the work, and I liked the people, but I was ready for a change.

Back then Snapfish was on the fifth floor of an outdated, turn-of-the-century building toward the dodgy section of Market. The elevator never worked; the women’s bathroom had a single stall; ceiling tiles would magically explode to the floor in the middle of meetings.

Snapfishers were from all over the world. They had beautiful accents, and names like Bala, Yuri, Adina and Sinyen. Organic produce was delivered weekly. There were no administrative assistants – you sent your own faxes, and so did the CFO. You could wear your pajamas if you felt like it. You could drink Manhattans by the Big Gulp at your desk if you felt like it. As long as you were being productive, who cared! 

But the best part was the work. We worked like crazy, and we actually built stuff – stuff that people used! People like my mom! And the guy in the seat next to me who won’t shut up about his Christmas calendars! Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?

Here I was, the token Midwesterner and the only blonde in the company, who had never taken a single yoga class and thought Reiki was something you use in the yard.

I was in love.

And then it happened. Bill, the other love of my life, proposed, and I said yes. Bill was back in St. Louis in a family-run business and couldn’t relocate to San Francisco.

Snapfish said it was OK! I’d commute! Of course I would! I’d get to keep shopping at all my favorite boutiques, see all of my SF friends whenever I wanted, and I wouldn’t even have to change my hair stylist. AND I’d get sick frequent flier miles. It would be the best of both worlds!

Only it wasn’t.


Welcome to Making Makaboo!

April 17, 2009 19:16

If you are reading this then thank you for your interest in Makaboo!

This blog is about the making of Makaboo. Which is pronounced Make-A-Boo. I forgive you if you were pronouncing it wrong before. But that’s what that line over the A is for. Just so you know.

Anyway, Makaboo is about making things! Like baby blankets! Or boos, as some people call them. Get it?

In one sentence: Makaboo will allow you to create unique, personalized embroidered baby and children’s gifts in minutes.

We’ll feature Angel Dear, Kissy Kissy, and Swaddle Designs gifts, just to name a few. And we’ll let you see exactly what your gift will look like – embroidery and all – before you buy. Best of all, your satisfaction is guaranteed. If there’s anything you’re not happy with, we’ll give your money back AND give you 10% off your next purchase.

I’m Cindy Teasdale McGowan, the founder of Makaboo. I’ve decided to write about the ongoing adventure of making Makaboo because it has been such an amazing journey, and because I love sharing stories about it. Hopefully this blog will allow friends and family to keep track of what we’re up to, and will let customers know that they’re dealing with real people who truly want to provide them with a stellar experience buying personalized gifts.

So thank you again for reading, and stay tuned!



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