February 01, 2006

Startups, Free Banking, Gift cards

Pelle points at Guy who writes on The Art of Bootstrapping. For those who've done lots of startups the pain will be quite familiar. And for those who appreciated GP, Guy's #3 might resonate:

3. Ship, then test. I can feel the comments coming in already: How can you recommend shipping stuff that isn't perfect? Blah blah blah. ”Perfect“ is the enemy of ”good enough.“ When your product or service is ”good enough,“ get it out because cash flows when you start shipping. Besides perfection doesn't necessarily come with time--more unwanted features do. By shipping, you'll also learn what your customers truly want you to fix. It's definitely a tradeoff: your reputation versus cash flow, so you can't ship pure crap. But you can't wait for perfection either. (Nota bene: life science companies, please ignore this recommendation.)

Nick points to Lawrence White - of Scottish free banking fame - who notes that the free banking influence is being kept in the Federal Reserve Board by the nomination of Randy Kroszner, a noted austrian scholar.

Brief reminder: Retiring Chairman Greenspan, also known as Sir Alan in the anglo world, is the greatest friend that free banking and gold ever had. It was under his influence that the Federal Reserve declined to regulate gold as money, and thus left the scene open for the development of the DGCs. That holiday is now over.

On the question of new / old money forms other than gold, there is an increasing use of gift exchange in the US. A survey by Accenture found that:

More than four out of five survey respondents (82 percent) said they gave or received gift cards this holiday season, and two-thirds (66 percent) said they both gave and received them. The vast majority (81 percent) of respondents said they have already used their gift cards, almost half (43 percent) said they planned to spend their gift cards within one month of receiving them, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said they planned to spend the entire value of their gift cards in a single store visit. ... The growing popularity of gift cards has introduced a secondary market in which consumers can buy and sell the cards at a discount. Just 13 percent of survey respondents, however, were aware of the opportunity to purchase pre-owned, discounted gift cards. Even fewer respondents (9 percent) were aware of the opportunity to sell gift cards for cash.

82% ! Yowsa! That's almost as popular as vegemite. No news yet on what discount the sold-on cards move for. Nor on use of phone cards as money.

Posted by iang at February 1, 2006 08:31 AM | TrackBack

Meanwhile in Canada major book retail chains agreed on a common gift card with quarterly clearing. Canadian bookstore gift cards can be used both on-line and off-line, and YOU CAN BUY GIFT CARDS for them, even on-line, without getting the physical card (just the code).
That is it is possible to do a rollover, making it a usable liquid currency. I can safely accept Canadian bookstore gift card codes as payment, beacuse I will immediately buy a new code for them, making sure the payer cannot use the old one.
The company behind the system is http://www.givex.com

Keep them on your radar, I say.

PS: Russian bookstores have switched to WebMoney long time ago. The gift certificates that they sell are just branded WebMoney (paymer) cards.

Posted by: Daniel A. Nagy at February 2, 2006 07:01 AM
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