Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays - Off to Hawaii!

Hope you all have a great Holiday! I'll be taking next week to spend time with the family in Oahu. Bhairavi has found a house on a quiet beach where we'll be playing with the kids. I hope all of our clients take the week off as well so we can collectively catch a breath.

Will be posting some pictures next week.

I do have a data card, so I will be in touch.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

2006 UNH CEPS Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes Silicon Valley entrepreneur

Earlier this year, UNH surprised me by giving me this award. It was quite an honor. It is posted below:

2006 UNH CEPS Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes Silicon Valley entrepreneur

Electrical engineer finds new applications for innovative technologies

DURHAM, N.H.— Silicon Valley entrepreneur Rajiv Parikh is the recipient of the 2006 University of New Hampshire College of Engineering and Physical Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award.

Rajiv Parikh accepting awardOriginally from Goffstown, Parikh now lives in Palo Alto, Calif., where he is currently founder and CEO of Position2 Inc., an online performance marketing company that combines search engine marketing with ad networks to generate sales leads for companies around the globe.

“Twenty years ago, when I first came to UNH, I never thought that I would someday receive an honor like this,” Parikh said after receiving the award at a dinner co-hosted by the New Hampshire section of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the CEPS Alumni Society on April 21. What’s amazing is that a lot of the professors I had are still here, and the passion is still here for uplifting students and taking them to the next level.”

The annual dinner meeting was also attended by engineering seniors just inducted into the Order of the Engineer. “You are taught a structured way of thinking, and that is something that offers tremendous value, not only to yourself, but to society,” Parikh told them. “As long as you are passionate about what you do, you’ll succeed.”

Since earning his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from UNH in 1990, Parikh has been an entrepreneur and executive in the high-tech and life sciences sectors, specializing in matching innovative technologies with new applications. “I had a hard time trying to determine how to describe Rajiv’s career because he has been so successfully involved in so many different ventures,” said Mike Dalton, chairman of the society’s award selection committee. “Passionate, dedicated, entrepreneurial and innovative are some of the adjectives that can be used to describe him.”

After graduating from UNH, Parikh worked as a sales manager at AT&T Global Information Solutions, before earning an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1997. He then held senior positions at Sun Microsystems and AltaVista Company before co-founding Aperon Biosystems. He led the venture-backed medical device startup, which has so far raised more then $20 million in investor capital, for two years. He has also worked in the software, hardware and wireless industries.

While visiting UNH, Parikh toured the newly renovated portions of CEPS’ home in Kingsbury Hall. Currently under construction, Phase II of the project includes a computer cluster that Parikh and his wife Bhairavi Parikh ’91 helped finance. “I was really excited to walk through the new Kingsbury,” he said. “I saw the same great professors, but a much better facility, making it more fun to work in the labs.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Rajiv Parikh accepts the 2006 UNH College of Engineering and Physical Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award from Mike Dalton, chairman of the CEPS Alumni Society award selection committee.


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Last updated 2006-Jun-01

Big Win at Position2

Today we secured a significant new client at Position2. This firm is a significant, public software company. Since we did this through a partner, we can't mention the name yet, but we will be able to leverage our experience with db40bjects and Pathworks Software to grow their base of leads.

The best part is that the client chose us over a major SEM firm that did not expend the resources required to properly serve them. This is for PPC and SEO.

There will be even greater momentum next month.

Why Goodbye to Nixon

As a fan, it's sad to see dedicated, hard-working players like Trot Nixon are not re-signed. He gave the team everything he had and it's probably why he injured himself so often. I'm sure he would have re-signed with a hometown discount.

I'm sure the Red Sox were looking at Nixon's stats and the declining number of games and power. His slugging average has dropped from the .500s to the .400s though he's maintaining his OBP (maybe the A's will want him). Meanwhile JD Drew has stayed in the .500s even coming off of an injury year.

There's one thing that most don't factor in is that Nixon does poorly against left handed pitchers (LHP). Typically, Nixon is not played on days with a lefty starter. This reduces managerial flexibility and pumps up his statistics. Drew vs. Nixon against LHPs is .814 vs .620 OPS and .263 vs. .207 BA over the last years. That's a huge difference.

The one thing is character and Nixon has it in spades. It is telling that someone is willing to opt out of a $11 mil/year contract for a $14 mil/year one. We hope the atmosphere of the team is contagious.

If you want a real in-depth analysis, go to the Dec 6 post of the Weekend Sports Page. It's really well put together.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Managing an Operation in India

Today over dinner I was asked a number of questions about running an operation in India. Many hear the press reports about call centers where people "fake" being an American or where getting an Indian technical support rep means incomprehensible service. What people do not hear about the success stories: large scale, successful technology projects that deliver quality deliverables on-time and on-budget or successful services delivered by American sounding customer service operators. These examples are occurring over and over with greater frequency. The media would rather focus on examples of failed implementations run by poor management teams who did not hire, train and operate based on the realities of the people and market.

If you are used to hiring US high school graduates for a call center or highly scripted technical support operation and are experiencing high turnover, what would you expect with Indian college graduates? There are cost and quality advantages with an Indian team, but if there's a labor cost advantage of 10:1, it is unlikely to translate into a 10:1 total advantage. Why? Buildings and computers cost the same. Quality management will not mirror the cost advantage. There will be training and communications costs. While 2:1 or 4:1 is certainly achievable, you have to account for other costs, especially in the beginning. As you grow, the cost advantage can be signficant.

From a quality standpoint, I have seen equal or better quality. People coming out of Indian colleges are well versed in their field. We get the best of both worlds as many on our team have advertising, marketing and business backgrounds and also have a strong comfort level with math and statistics. Moreover, they enjoy the challenge of working on an international client. There's a strong desire to prove how good they are. While many are accustomed to a hierarchical system that does not encourage thinking in the workplace, when people are "given permission" to think, quality of work and efficiency soars.

I've seen this already in my team. People really enjoy their work. They are always coming up with creative ideas. Supporting groups find ways to buttress line operations. Our senior management is so strong that I don't need to be there more than every other month or so.

This requires a lot of work, trust and calls on Skype. So don't believe everything you read. There are a lot of quiet success stories that far outweigh the failures. Failures have more to do with poor execution than anythign else. I can tell you that my Indian team can go toe to toe with anyone.

I'm going to spend a lot more time on this subject, so feel free to comment.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How Entrepreneurs Look at Things

My wife and I were driving with an executive of one our companies. We were joking about how every time someone talks about a problem, we see a new company.

Later on, Bhairavi brought up an idea she had. I saw great potential. In fact it would be more of a clinical trial situation than technology hurdle. Meanwhile, you could see the, "Here they go again," rolling of the eyes with our exec. As sharp as she is, all she sees is risk.

When most people see risks, entrepreneurs see great potential. We like 10% probabilities because there are great rewards if and when we make it work. And we feel we can make things work.

If you are going to think, think big.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

effinfunny live!

I'd like you all to check out It a new site started by Sandeep, an improv comedian, director and now entrepreneur over in LA. The site will add a new original clip a day by up-and-coming comedians that were shot with a live studio audience over at The Empty Stage in LA. One of Sandeep's friend, Rich Kuras, finds great comedians and books them. Then the team puts the whole event together and edits the clips.

My team at Position2 put together the site. We worked with Sandeep on the strategy, design, development and marketing. We put together an amazing content management system for the site that is flexible and powerful enough for a new media content and community site. We are operating and running the marketing of the site. I must say that the group did an amazing job.

It started as a brainchild of mine when I was thinking about cool new media projects. Imagine having comedy clips that you can view anytime you want. Sandeep gave life to it by focusing on edgy, intelligent comedy and running the operation. Some of the stuff is over the edge. Other stuff is just really clever. You'll never look at an ATM or your wife the same way. Many times, I find it even funnier the second time - it's that good.

Check it out and leave comments. We want to improve. We wouldn't mind if you click on an interesting ad either :).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Landing Pages - Gotta Have 'em

When you've been in this business for a while, you simply expect people to understand the value of landing pages. A meeting with a client the other day really brought this to life for me because it's hard for people to get away from the home page mentality of website development.

What is a landing page? It's a place that you land after you click on a PPC ad (there's value in SEO, but we'll focus). It's the place that tells your prospect more about the ad they clicked on and encourages them to contact you or buy your product or service. The page is different than your home page where you are trying to give the visitor the ability to find whatever they are looking for. This includes products, services, management info, press, contact info and so on.

Landing pages are different. You paid for the click. You have every right to limit their choices. Using your home page as your landing page offers too many choices and only delays a decision. Or worse, people forget about why they are there in the first place. Searchers have ADD. Either give them what they are looking for or go elsewhere.

Make sure the landing page is consistent with your ad. It seems intuitive but many do not do that. They forget to repeat or build on the messages of the ad. For example, if your ad says “2 easy steps to sign up. Hassle free” in the ad. The landing page should clearly show step 1 and step 2. It should have a box with benefits that would highlight why it is hassle free. We've seen dramatic improvements in conversion rates (rate at which you click turns into a lead or sale) when the landing page is aligned appropriately. Moreover, it is said that it improves your quality score with Google. That means you pay less or get higher position on your ad.

Keep it simple. Do not clutter your landing page with all kinds of information. Less is more. There's no need to confuse people.

Don't forget about the big red or green button. You know, the one that tells people to contact you or buy now. Study after study shows that this works. So use it and make sure it is front and center. This was a key area of discussion with a client.

Place a form on your landing page. Try to make it simple and unobtrusive. It allows you to track the success of the campaign, have a lead to contact and have another prospect in your database for newsletters, updates or special offers.

Use references to increase your credibility. This could be customer testimonials, parter quotes, logos of the Better Business Bureau, etc. Anything that makes that decision easier, especially if you in a very competitive market.

Use human faces, especially for services. Nothing sells and increases comfort more than the happy face enjoying the benefit of your product or service. Notice how Apple uses the gyrating dancing men and women to push the iPod. We have seen dramatic improvements with this. So much so, that we put people on our front page.

For easier tracking, use confirmation or thank you pages to complete the contact process.

Try to use text over text images. It makes it easier to make modifications, especially if you do a ton of pages to tune your campaign.

This goes without saying but keep with the look and feel of your brand. You customers will see you again. Don't confuse them into missing you.

Finally, test and retest. Never stop testing. Use split testing or even better Taguchi testing (see Andreas' slides on the beta of Google's MultiVariate Testing software). You would be amazed how many times the page that you considered as the worst, turned out to be the best in conversions.

Thanks to Soumya for helping with her comments!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

My Asthma Returns... There's Hope

When I came back from India in late November, I returned with that familiar feeling in my chest. I have been starting to feel it as of my last couple of trips from India. It's that tight, coughy feeling - that shortness of breath. There's a feeling you get when you breathe in too deeply. You can't go all the way. A number of times I had a difficult time in the rickshaws breathing in the soot from other rickshaws. It's a long way of saying...the asthma is back.

It's a sad feeling - been over 25 years since I last felt symptoms. The memory never goes away, but I really thought I beat it. Well this time when I went to see my doctor, he listened to me describe my symptoms and prescribed Advair - inhaled corticosteroids with a long acting bronchodialator. Usually I despise medication, but I took it as I felt a great deal of chest tightness. There was some impact within days but it's still there. I know that a low dose of Advair takes a while to have impact.

The story twists here... Well I went over to the Apieron office this weekend to measure my exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) levels. As many of you know, Bhairavi and I started Apieron. We are building a device that measure exhaled nitric oxide or eNO at the parts per billion level. eNO is indicative of inflammation of the airways. High inflammation leads to symptoms. If you can catch and control inflammation early, you are much less likely to feel symptoms. In my case, I've been typically measured at in the low 30s over the years. Today, I was at 46 ppb - this is after 3 days of Advair. Much much higher than normal. While there is no established protocol for treatment in conjunction with eNO measurement, it's clear that lowering eNO and inflammation is the way to go.

I was happy about one thing - eNO works. My measured level is much higher than normal. As a mild asthmatic, my normal level is higher than non-asthmatics. To see it this high really hit home. It is one thing to hear presentations on studies that have been conducted. It's quite another to feel it directly. The measurement works - our device has value.

Every week, I plan to go back in to see the decline. When it gets low enough, I plan to see if I can switch to a pure inhaled corticosteroid vs. Advair.

In one way, this stinks. In another way, it's heartening that our collective hard work can truly help the world.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bonds Signing - More Than Meets the Eye

Today, it was announced that the SF Giants would sign Barry Bonds for $16 million base and earn up to $20 mil for one search. Given that Bonds seemed to have no other place to go, various writers in the SJ Merc and SF Chronicle are talking about how crazy it seems.

And it does seem crazy except for one thing. The Giants do need Bonds more than he needs them. A comment from a good friend and season ticket holder gave the answer - personal seat licenses and a big price increase. The 7 year personal seat licenses for season ticket holders are up. They have a choice of either renewing for some ridiculous rate + the game package or a much higher per game ticket price.

By keeping Bonds, the Giants are more likely to get the renewals and keep cash flows going before Bonds leaves.

Why not pay less like $7 mil? Well even if Bonds accepted it from the Giants, he would probably be unhappy and spread that around the clubhouse. That would wreck the season and turn off the fans. So Magowan had no choice but pay extra, get the big personal seat license and season ticket renewals, and then let Bonds go after the season.

I'm sure Bond's agent knew a little bit about this as well...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

PPC for More Traffic, More Sales

For those who previously visited our site, you will see a new look. We have changed our tagline and added a whole host of content. We found that many clients did not really understand PPC or Pay Per Click Advertising with Search Engines.

So we asked them, "What do you want?"

"More traffic, more sales." That became our tagline.

Here's why... because we've been delivering. Here are some recent examples:
  • MIT OpenCourseware: We recently grew traffic over 100x with the same daily ad spend.
  • Finance Business: Grew their sales volume 4x while maintaining cost of acquisition.
  • Enterprise Software Firm: Doubled their lead volume while cutting lead cost in half.
  • Internet Membership Firm: Grew their paying members 6x in 3 months while maintaining cost per acquisition.
This is with US and international clients with multi-language campaigns in the US, Europe and Asia. This is with large and small clients.

Why? We've adapted our knowledge to build worldwide infrastructure, technology and processes to offer high quality services for a wide variety of clients.

Contact Position2 to learn more.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Aviator - Inspired Entrepreneurship

Many people like to use pro sports as a means to release stress. Yell at the team. Yell at the refs. It's a lot better than yelling at the kids or your employees. Well, I'm definitely there for the Pats and Red Sox. I was definitely at that point for Aviator, starring Leonard DiCaprio as the eccentric entrepreneur, Howard Hughes. This was especially during the Senate hearings where Senator Owen Brewster tried to smear Hughes for war profiteering and all sorts of seemingly unsavory practices. He was basically in the pocket of the CEO of Pan Am.

If you want to get me going, talk about anti-competitive policy in the national security or interest realm. The Senator used his office to hold back competition from a visionary player.

Though Hughes was definitely over the top, he was a true innovator in the aviation and film industry. His story reminded me of the movie, Tucker: Man and His Dreams. Preston Tucker was an innovator who's ideas later became part of automobiles years later: disk brakes, fuel injection, seat belt, safety windshields and padded dashboards. Like Hughes, the established players tried to run him out of business using the Congress as their stick rather than innovations. That backward attitude is why the US auto industry suffers today against Japanese competitors.

Our government should find ways to foster innovation and not prevent it. It should not allow corporate money to stifle entrepreneurialism.

For me, Hughes inspired me to continue creating innovative business. Nothing's more fun than holding the "tiger by the tail."