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How a young startup is contending with giant competitors

(Tech News) When an idea comes about, many people are discouraged because their competitors are gigantic, but that didn’t stop one startup from skyrocketing to 25 million users.

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weheartit startup

How do you launch a brand when your competitors are so huge?

You have an idea. It’s a good one. You have identified a need in the market, and your research indicates that you’re sitting on a mint. You have your business plan put together, but you hesitate because you have competitors that have been around for a long time and are multi-billion dollar companies. Eventually, that hesitation eases, because you realize that you have a better way of doing it, and consumers are clamoring for it.

We Heart It is an image-based social network startup, and launched in the middle of some pretty huge competitors. But, they’ve already surpassed 25 million users and say they are seeing one million new signups every month. They decided to nix comments to so away with bullies, making it popular with younger users. So how do they compete with Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter?

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Ranah Edelin, CEO of We Heart It says that competing with mega-funded, mega-sized social networks keeps them on their toes. “Seriously, it is very humbling to be compared to a lot of great companies in the social space who have hundreds of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment.”

Edelin added that “It is also extremely motivating when you look at how large and active our community of 25 million is and how favorably we compare to these same services that have many more resources than we do. It keeps our team focused and ensures that every member of our 18-person team contributes a lot to our service and its growth.”

Was the goal to disrupt?

“Our service was originally started as a personal project by a design student named Fabio who wanted to collect and organize images that he could refer to later for design inspiration,” noted Edelin. “It was his first coding project and he originally called it “I heart it” because it was just for his personal use. He shared it with some of his design friends who immediately asked him for an account of their own. He added the ability for others to create accounts and changed the name to We Heart It and it just took off from there.”

The company has focused on natural and organic growth and iteration, seeking to stay true to their roots rather than disrupt. Edelin said, “We believe that we complement the existing social ecosystem quite well and that the positive, supportive, and expressive tone of our community is quite unique.”

They have also benefited from the shift in technology to mobile, with over 80 percent of their traffic coming from mobile devices, and they’ve enjoyed the “coveted” teen and young adult demo, with over 80 percent of their users under the age of 24.

What have you done differently to attract so many young users?

Edelin said, “We have always focused on the two most important things any company in our space should focus on: our users and our service. For example, we never talked to the press about We Heart It prior to June of 2013, even though we had over 20 million users and were already extremely popular in our core demographic. I think the fact that our service has been “under the radar” with mainstream press has helped our community really embrace We Heart It as their own…..they love We Heart It and have really helped spread the word for us.”

He added, “I should also say that the best way to stay true to our users and the service is to have a really amazing team working at We Heart It. We spend a lot of time vetting each person who joins our team and making sure that everyone has the ability and opportunity to contribute in significant ways. It’s really rewarding and necessary for each member of our team to have a large impact on the success of our service!”

Why did you determine that comments should not be a feature on the site?

“From the start, We Heart It has really embraced the notion of constrained design, a concept made popular by the likes of great services like Twitter and Vine,” said Edelin. “The heart (pun intended) and soul of We Heart It is our users and the images they share. The lack of comments forces people to really focus on those two things (users and images) and to find more creative ways to express themselves to their followers and the broader community. That’s why you see a decent amount of images with text overlaid on them…the image becomes a self-contained unit that fully captures how someone is feeling or what they believe is important.”

“The lack of comments also allows our community to really stay positive, supportive, and “bully-proof.” The only action another person can take towards another person on We Heart It is a positive one (heart the image or follow the person),” Edelin added. “That has made We Heart It a much more authentic community where people can share how they’re feeling without fear of backlash from others. This is especially important given the cyber-bullying that happens on some of the other social networks that makes people, especially young people, feel a lot of pressure and even fear on those social networks.”

Businesses and We Heart It

Edelin said that any company seeking a young audience should set up an account and share “beautiful, inspiring, expressive, and authentic” content. “We also get a lot of fan tributes to We Heart It which is always fun to see… they basically unleash their creativity around the We Heart It brand and the results are pretty amazing. For example, here is an image on our service made by a user that has been hearted over 180,000 times that really captures what makes We Heart It special and unique”

We Heart It says they have just announced their new Partnership Program with initial participation from Conde Nast brands Teen Vogue and Lucky, as well as some other great consumer apps with strong traction in their core demo. “Our team can help onboard new brands and help them maximize their presence on We Heart It by helping them do things like create a verified We Heart It account, learn about best practices and how to get more followers on our platform, and how to implement our “Heart It” button on their mobile app or website to make it easier for their content to appear on We Heart It,” Edelin concluded.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Tech News

Infinity Maps is the most mind-blowing visual workspace ever

(TECHNOLOGY) Infinity Maps is bringing together whiteboarding, diagramming, and real-time collaboration all in one neat tool.

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Digital tools should be effective and efficient. They should help you plan, create, and manage your projects so your team can build solutions to your overall goals. While many tools say they are the all-in-one tool solution, this is a pretty bold statement to make. Each company is different, and one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

However, there comes a time when such a tool comes slightly close to filling that spot. Infinity Maps seeks to do this by marrying some of the best qualities of different tools and adding its spice to the mix.

What does Infinity Maps offer?

Whiteboarding
The web application is partially an online whiteboard tool. In your workspace, called Canvas, you create your content by using cards. In these cards, you can add text, images, and files. Cards can be nested indefinitely creating hierarchies while still maintaining a “clear and concise” structure. You can do this by simply dragging a card into another card.

Diagramming
To visualize how each card correlates to one another, you have the option to link cards with arrows. These arrows are further organized by changing the color of each one or changing the color of the card itself.

Real-time collaboration
Infinity Maps lets your team collaborate in real-time. To work together, you can invite users to your map. When you share your workspace, you assign people different roles so they have the correct permissions to read or write on your map. Like Google’s web tools, you can see who is using the map because each username will show up next to their cursor and be assigned a different color.

Zoomable interface
Navigating through Infinity Maps is easy and works just like Google Maps. By double-clicking, you are taken directly to the card you selected. You can also scroll up and down and use the trackpad to zoom in and out of your map. This feature is super helpful when you have hundreds of cards on your map.

Why Infinity Maps?
The company says Infinity Maps is a “revolutionary new product that allows you to organize vast amounts of information visually & spatially”. It is a combination of Miro, Notion, and Google Maps all into one.

“What are we doing differently?” asks Infinity Maps CEO & Co-Founder Johannes Grenzemann. “With Infinity Maps, we are building a knowledge management system that allows you to create vast, huge knowledge bases [that] depict high complexity and depth while staying mind friendly because it’s a visual approach,” Grenzemann said.

infinity maps templates

Overall, Infinity Maps is a neat knowledge tool. It can be used in several ways, from students trying to organize their thesis to startups managing their product launches.

If you’re interested in checking them out to see if they are indeed the all-in-one tool solution, you can sign up to start mapping. A free account gives you access to 3 maps, up to 150 cards per map, and 50MB of cloud space. If you need more space to map out your ideas, you can unlock additional cards by inviting a friend or purchasing cards. Pro, unlimited, and team subscriptions plans are also available for purchase.

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Tech News

China cracks down on user data collection, allegedly cares about privacy

(TECH) Either China’s government just grew a conscience, or they’re trying to compete on a global stage. Either way, they’re implementing new laws.

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china cares about privacy?

In an uncharacteristic looking move for end-user privacy and choice, China has passed sweeping new legislation entitled the Personal Information Protection Law. It’s set to take effect on November 1, 2021, and includes provisions governing consent in user data collection of tech applications and specifies how companies can use that data, especially if that data is to be transferred out of China.

This is the second of two pieces of legislation to emerge this year as China takes a hard look at their cyberspace and try their hand at oversight.

The Data Security law, which came into effect on Sept. 1, set classification frameworks for data based on “its economic value and relevance to China’s national security” as cited in Reuters.

According to experts, both laws will require companies to reevaluate how they collect and store data on a massive scale. As regulations continue to develop rapidly during China’s re-examination of their tech industry, companies are scrambling to meet the stringent new requirements and adjust their infrastructure for compliance at a break-neck pace.

Takeaways:

  • The Personal Information Protection Law similar in design to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation
  • China’s top cyberspace regulator, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), issued an investigation into Didi Global Inc, their version of Uber, with accusations of user privacy violations
  • An extensive set of rules targeting business practices that undermine fair competition, such as cultivating reviews, were implemented by China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR)
  • 43 apps were accused of illegally transferring user data and called out by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and required to make “rectifications”

Similar cyberspace scrutiny is happening in the US regarding monopolies held by some of the biggest players in tech like Google, Facebook, and Amazon but is moving very slowly through the legislative process.

In terms of how this impacts Americans, TikTok is currently one of the single most downloaded apps in the US and owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance. According to The Sun, ByteDance is now the most valuable startup in the world with an estimated value of 1 billion USD.

Many doubt that China actually cares about privacy, but some believe that keeping up the appearance of playing by modern corporate rules benefits their government as they seek global dominance.

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Tech News

Apparently, the chip shortage is NOT easing up this year…

(TECH NEWS) If you’re a tech person who has tried to buy anything with a chip in it, you know there’s been a shortage and therefore a buying frenzy. Which apparently isn’t ending soon.

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It appears that the chip shortage, a phenomenon that has plagued production for the last six or so months, is not easing up like people had initially predicted. The real-world effects of this shortage are varied, but impactful.

The Daily Brew’s Dan McCarthy reports that the average wait time for chip deliveries is up to over 20 weeks at this point, a number that (despite postulation that the second half of 2021 would see increased chip production) is higher than the wait times in both July and June of this year.

The chip shortage has a few different roots, but the primary one as of late is a slew of COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia – specifically near locations that produce large numbers of semiconductors for the rest of the world. It’s thought that the wait time will increase in the coming weeks, even as companies slash predictions and hunker down for a hit to their profits this season.

For context, manufacturers were having to wait for a little over 12 weeks for their semiconductors this time last year. It’s clear that we’re going in the wrong direction if we’re planning to keep up production going into this next year.

The implications of such a shortage range from baffling to sobering. Earlier this year, people struggled to find PS5s for reasonable prices; more importantly, though, is the effect this shortage is having on the automobile industry. A couple of weeks ago, Toyota announced a 40 percent cut in production plans for September.

With GM, Ford, Stellantis, and VW adding that they will most likely cut back on production as well, it looks like the 2022 vehicle market will be the latest casualty to lower-than-optimal supply in a time of moderate demand.

While the chips used in cars, appliances, and other common electronics are profoundly affected by the shortage, it appears that “power management” chips (the ones used in smaller devices, namely smartphones) have a decreased wait time from last month. This somewhat contradicts a shortage warning by Apple in late July, though we’re clearly not out of the woods regarding production efficiency yet.

It is extremely likely that this shortage will impact auto and appliance production in 2022.

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