2016 Is the Year Small Businesses Must Develop Mobile Apps

mobile phone using

Apps are no longer considered merely a “branding exercise” for small businesses. Business owners are becoming wise to the marketing power a well-designed, intuitive app can bring. From simplifying online purchases to providing easy-to-access information, the benefits are undeniable which is why small businesses must develop mobile apps to stay competitive.

Why Small Businesses Must Develop Mobile Apps

In previous years, the rising cost of custom app developers made apps an impossible expense for small businesses. The recent growth of software development kits that streamline the app development process and allow even non-coders to create a fully-functioning app have dramatically reduced the cost of creating an app.

The affordability and fast development times these kits allow has encouraged more businesses than ever to create their own apps.

As social media use continues to rise, consumers are becoming more open to engaging with brands on a day-to-day basis, even if they aren’t specifically loyal to or purchasers of that particular business. Business owners and marketers are capitalizing on consumers’ desires for interaction by producing entertaining mobile apps. While being fun to use, informational or inspirational, a common characteristic of these apps is that they feature a strong call-to-action to persuade the user to purchase a product or in some way benefit the company in question.

What Types of Small Businesses are Making Apps?

A 2015 analysis of 40,402 apps created with an app development platform found that while “expected” businesses such as restaurants and gyms were highly prevalent, others such as golf courses, hotels, politicians and plumbers were also on the rise.

But why are these industries building more apps? Well, as the ease of building apps increases, so does the amount of potential functionality. One-off investments in systems such as in-app payments or bookings can save businesses money in the long-term as they reduce the amount of time their staff needs to spend fulfilling orders, taking payments or completing bookings.

For businesses that meet potential clients at various locations, the ability to show data or portfolio pieces offline using an app can make the difference between closing the sale and losing the prospect to a competitor.

How are Small Businesses Benefiting from Mobile Apps?

A recent survey showed that 62 percent of the businesses asked already had apps or were in the process of building one. Of those, 20 percent used their apps purely for branding purposes, 30 percent have revenue generating apps and 50 percent use them for support and engagement.

We spend 174 minutes on mobile devices every day. Mobile sales are estimated to have reached $74 billion in 2015 — up 32 percent from 2014. Thirty percent of all online purchases by Millennials are done on mobile devices. This jumps to 33 percent for moms and 43 percent for U.S. Hispanics.

However, apps aren’t just for commerce businesses. Push notifications can be used by any niche to put your brand name directly in front of the smartphone owner. Apps can be used for any type of activity: booking systems, file uploads, vouchers, newsletters, digital magazines, support, providing information, logging exercise or nutrition, showing videos and so much more.

Even businesses that you wouldn’t have thought would benefit from an app are proving critics wrong by producing innovative and engaging apps. For example, an independent pet food supplier could have an app that encourages users to upload comical photographs of their pets for a chance to win a prize. A product for new mothers could build a community of local mums and arrange meet-ups. A realtor could create an app that compares local house prices now to five years ago. The possibilities really are endless. All it takes is a little imagination to devise a system that consumers will enjoy engaging with.

What Does the Future Hold?

The projections around app driven revenue are staggering. Non-game app downloads are estimated to grow 23 percent in the next five years, exceeding $182 billion in 2020. Smartphone adoption in emerging markets should see mobile app store downloads more than double between 2015 and 2020.

Current data about mobile purchasing across the different age groups gives a strong indication that in 5-10 years, everyone is going to be a mobile shopper. Sixty-nine percent of millennials buy products on their smartphones, compared to 53 percent of Gen Xers and 16 percent of Boomers.

The increased market share and spending power this brings will make apps a necessity for B2C businesses in order to streamline a consumer’s journey from product browsing to payment.

The above statistics are also good news for digital agencies that offer mobile app development. As more businesses adopt apps, the demand for their services grows. The development of new ‘smart products’ such as virtual reality and wearable technology may compound this further as apps will need to be adapted to work on new online platforms.

Mobile Phone User Photo via Shutterstock


7 Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Business

final shopping on phone

Did you know that over half of adults in the United States now utilize a smart phone to surf the Web? This information makes it even more urgent that you bring your business onto the mobile scene if you have not already.

Even if you are a brick and mortar store, it is imperative that you, at the minimum, make your website mobile friendly. Regardless of whether you sell t-shirts, computers or wedding planning services, if your potential customers cannot find you in a quick, mobile search, you will be easily passed over.

Use these mobile marketing tips for small business to market your business in a mobile world.

1. Ask Customers to Check-In and Reward Them

Encourage customers who use mobile services such as FourSquare, Google+, ShopKick or SpotIt to check-in to your location and offer a reward for them doing so, such as incentives, special discounts, prizes or recognition for a certain number of visits.

2. Social Media Marketing

Use your mobile phone to keep your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles up-to-date and engaged.

3. Text Marketing

Create opt-in campaigns allowing your customers to sign up to receive special messages, alerts and rewards for joining your text campaign. Use this platform to allow customers to take a specific action (such as participating in a survey or visiting your website) in exchange for a reward (a free item or 10 percent discount). Redbox does this very well, regularly offering text campaign customers exclusive deals and free movie rentals.

4. QR Codes

Using QR codes (or Quick Response Codes) allows users to access a specific content area in order to obtain a special reward or to take advantage of a specific promotion. QR scanners can easily be downloaded for free onto any smartphone, and you can create your own QR codes easily using websites like www.qrstuff.com and add flyers, ads, business cards, etc.

5. Mobile Customer Service

Track orders, payments, shipping details and respond to questions quickly on the go using your smartphone. This is easy and convenient for you and your customers enjoy the faster responses from it.

6. Mobile Directories

Mobile directories have replaced the phone book yellow pages for the majority of people. If you want to ensure your business is found, register with several mobile directories such as Yelp, Google+Local, and YP (Yellow Pages). Include the name of your business, the product/service you provide, business hours, phone number, physical address and link to your website.

7. Create a Mobile App

Want to make your business even more easily accessible? If so, create an app.

You can easily create an app with websites like appypie.com or appmakr.com. Your app should provide unique content apart from your other digital presences, but still sell products, allow you to communicate with your customers, or whatever else you desire. Eighty-five percent of smartphone users surveyed feel more at ease navigating an app than a mobile version of your website.

In general, iOS apps generate nearly four times the revenue as opposed to Android apps, but it can be more difficult navigating the Apple app developing world.

The good news for your business is mobile marketing is not going away. In fact, it’s the future. What will evolve is how we use mobile marketing in the future to find information. Google has predicted this will be the year that more people will search for information using their mobile device than using a desktop computer.

In a world where the majority of smartphone users access their email using their mobile device, going mobile allows you to connect with and convert your users quickly and more efficiently.

Here is a little fact for you: 75 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. confess to taking their mobile phones with them to the bathroom. Gross, sure, but think about it. This is just another example of the prevalence of the mobile device. Smartphones are now how the majority of people pass time, locate information, find the time for the next movie, search for deals or find a plumber to fix their toilet. Our mobile devices have become an extension of us.

So if you have not dipped your finger into mobile marketing, use these mobile marketing tips for small business to get on the boat. If you’re already into mobile marketing, keep doing your research in order to keep your business on top of the newest trends.

Social networking and mobile marketing are constantly moving forward and evolving. If you do not stay on top of the times and stay tuned into what mobile marketing means, it’s too easy to get left behind.

Woman on Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

More in: Content Marketing


Amazon Echo: Fun, But Not Very Useful – Yet

Amazon Echo voice activated assistant



Echo is a fun gadget that doubles as an audio speaker and an automated assistant to handle small tasks. While promising, today it doesn’t do enough to be meaningful as a productivity tool.

How would you like to have your own administrative assistant to help you research information and compile simple lists?  All done hands-free by saying commands aloud?

And when you’re not assigning or asking things, how would you like an audio speaker that sounds good, so you can listen to music in the background as you work?

Interested? Then you’ll want to check out the new Amazon Echo.

We tapped into the expertise of Brent Leary, industry analyst, who got an early look at the Amazon Echo. He shared his thoughts for this review.

Key Amazon Echo Features

Amazon Echo is an exciting new device that in the future could change the way we interact with the environment around us.

Think of the Amazon Echo as a speaker that lets you listen to music — but one you can also talk to.  It answers questions and performs simple tasks such as creating shopping lists and to-do lists.

The Echo consists of two parts:

  • a combined speaker / microphone device, and
  • a software app.

The device is a cylinder-shaped speaker that stands upright. It’s 9.25 inches tall and just 3.27 inches across. The speaker is omnidirectional (it broadcasts out to all sides).

Around the top of it are seven microphones to pick up your voice from all directions.

Let’s say you want to know the weather. You simply address it by its name (“Alexa”) so it knows you are talking to it.

Say the word “Alexa.” Then ask something like, “What’s the weather in Atlanta?”

If the Echo is asleep, it will wake up. If it is playing music, it will stop and answer your question.

It can hear you across the room. Amazon calls this “far field voice recognition.”

Via your WiFi connection, it streams your request to the cloud where the Echo “brain” resides.

Within seconds, Alexa (equipped with a female voice) speaks the answers back to you — hands free.  The spoken answers also appear typed out in the app on your tablet or browser.

The Echo device works together with its cloud-based app connected to the Internet.  The app is what enables it to create a shopping list, for instance.  And it’s not just music you can add to your shopping list. You can add food, clothing or other items.  You can also create a to-do list.

The accompanying app can be used on the Kindle Fire, Android devices, and browsers.  You can use the app even when you’re away from the speaker device.

Amazon Echo app


The Amazon Echo is innovative and has a lot of positives going for it:

  • Echo is simple to set up.
  • Its voice recognition is good. You can speak naturally and it still picks up your commands.
  • Alexa’s speech sounds natural — not like a robot.
  • The speaker delivers nice sound output. With Bluetooth you can connect tablets and phones and listen to music services such as Pandora and Spotify through the speaker.
  • It comes with Amazon Prime and TuneIn integrated already.
  • It is relatively inexpensive.  It runs $199, but Amazon Prime subscribers get it for just $99 currently.


The biggest downside with the Amazon Echo is its limited usefulness — so far. Today, it’s really more of a consumer entertainment gadget that’s not all that useful for productivity:

  • For small businesspeople looking for personal productivity tools, it is likely to disappoint. Today, it’s limited mainly to looking up facts you can find online and creating simple lists.
  • It handles easy questions well, such as math calculations or queries about straight-forward facts. However, as the video below demonstrates, it can get stumped. Sometimes one word in the question makes a difference.
  • It would be nice if it were tied into recommendation engines like Yelp to get answers to questions about things like “best pizza places,” for example.
  • It would be nice to integrate music services like Spotify. While you can play tunes from Spotify over the speaker via Bluetooth, you can’t give Echo voice commands to play songs from your Spotify account.
  • Used as a speaker, it certainly has decent quality. But it’s not the best speaker on the market. High-end audiophiles will demand more.

Who Amazon Echo Is Best For

The Echo is for early adopters who love to be the first in their circles to try new devices. If you like experimenting with innovative gadgets, you’ll love the Echo.

And if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you’ll especially like it because of the great introductory price. The following video by Brent Leary shows the Echo in action.

Amazon Echo shows exciting promise as a personal entertainment device / personal assistant.

But right now it is limited. Mainly you can use it as a speaker for cloud-based music and video sound. You use it to answer simple questions and create lists.

Echo doesn’t do much more than that — yet.

Amazon says more services and functions are coming. That may be quite soon, given that the device is tied to a cloud app that Amazon can easily update. Right now, though, it is not full-featured enough to be a productivity tool for your business (or for you personally).

Our star rating gives Amazon the benefit of the doubt that it actually will follow through with more services and smarts via the cloud.

Echo is one of those devices that, if we look back a few years from now, we may wonder how we lived without it. Echo is ahead of its time.


10 Must Reads for Improving Your Online Marketing

Latest online newsEDIT

Having a good website and clear online marketing strategy is very important in today’s business world. But there’s a lot that goes into building an online strategy. So we rounded up some of the best tips and related posts from members of our small business community. Read on for the full list in this week’s Small Business Trends community and information roundup.

Create a Welcoming Website

(Barefoot Basics)

What do your customers see when they go to your website? Do they see a site that is welcoming and professional, or one that is confusing and difficult to navigate? This post from Rochelle Stone explains the importance of creating a welcoming website and some things to consider in order to accomplish that goal.

Correct These Google Analytics Blind Spots

(Marketing Land)

If you have a website for your business, then you probably use a service like Google Analytics to measure its performance. But there are some website features that Google Analytics doesn’t help you with. This post from Brian Massey outlines some of those Google Analytics blind spots and offers solutions for correcting them.

Make Your Web Content Live Up to Its Promise

(Premier Content Source)

Writing great headlines and promoting content is very important to finding online success. But your actual content needs to live up to the hype. Here, Nicole Beckett shares some thoughts on creating great content. And the BizSugar community discusses the post further here.

Use These Tips for Your Holiday Facebook Strategy

(Competitive Edge)

When the holiday season rolls around, many businesses take the opportunity to spruce up their social media promotions. In fact, there are many different ways you can make your Facebook page more inviting for holiday customers. This post by Shantha Wetterhan shares three strategies for optimizing your holiday Facebook presence.

Measure Your Social Media ROI

(Stuart J Davidson)

When you use social media in your marketing efforts, it can be difficult to really tell what you are getting out of it. But this post from Stuart J. Davidson shares some methods for measuring social media ROI. And BizSugar members talk more about the post here.

Avoid These Online Marketing Mistakes

(Belle Communications)

So you’re marketing your business online. That’s great. But there are plenty of roadblocks that can negatively impact your online marketing efforts. Here, Kate Finley shares 10 of the most common online marketing mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Update Your Content Marketing Efforts

(Griot Digital)

Content marketing is a constantly evolving field. It’s not just the tools that change though. Businesses also need to update the methods they use for trying to reach customers. This post by Nadia James includes some thoughts on content marketing along with a helpful infographic.

Tell a Great Story

(Resonance Content)

It’s important to tell a story with your online and in-person marketing efforts. Part of that story is to explain who exactly you are. Here, Rachel Parker shares some methods for telling your story effectively. And BizSugar members talk more about the post here.

Use These Internet Security Tips in the Workplace

(Internet Billboards)

Online security is becoming increasingly important, particularly for business matters. In this post, Agnes Marylinn shares some tips for improving internet security in the workplace.

Get Your Great Content Noticed With SEO


If you want to get your website or blog noticed, you need to have great content. But if no one ever sees that content in the first place, it still won’t do any good. This post by Kerry Butters shares some thoughts on balancing SEO and great content. And the BizSugar community shares some thoughts on SEO as well.

Latest online news photo via Shutterstock


11 Highly Useful Presentation Tools for Sales and Marketing

presentation tools

UPDATE: For an updated list of presentation tools, please visit “62 Highly Useful Presentation Tools for Sales and Marketing.”

Computer slide presentations are one of the ways we sell in person. We create the slides, show them to a prospect and then leave them on our machines for the next time we need them.

Why let them go to waste? By hosting them online, we can repurpose them as marketing and soft sales pieces.

Aside from repurposing existing presentations by loading them online, what if you want to create new presentations from scratch that do more — that contain a mix of slides, browser screen shots, product images, and even short video clips?  Today you can easily do that and often for free.  Jing and some of the tools below make it possible to create a more dynamic presentation, complete with audio, animation, and video that you can position on the Web for customers to review at their convenience.

So here are 11 presentation tools for creating outstanding presentations or just repurposing already-existing presentations, for your sales and marketing.  NOTE:  There is a follow-on post with 33 Highly Useful Presentation Tools linked at the end of this post.

1. Slideshare is a well known presentation hosting site. It has great web applications to let you distribute  your presentations to LinkedIn, Facebook, and many other social networks. It is becoming its own social network, in essence. They do not let you build a presentation as many of these others do; you only can host it there. It is simply a presentation portal where your ideas and thoughts can garner traffic and links.


2. Google Presentations – It sometimes feels to me that Google does everything that I need online. It isn’t true, of course, but Google Docs does offer Google Presentations. You can create a presentation from scratch or upload a Powerpoint file to Google and then share it with others. A basic tour is found here.

3. Zoho Show does a lot more than presentation hosting.  Zoho’s tool in this category is excellent and collaborative. If you need to have a chat going while you’re presenting, this is one to look at.

4. Prezi is one of the hottest startups in the presentation world. Takes a new look at presentations, gives you a large canvas to place images, videos, text and then lets you zoom in and out on various parts of your “presentation.” You have to host your presentation at Prezi, but you can embed it into your site or blog once you’ve done that. Their technology appears to be too robust to package up in any current file format. I liked this phrase from their site: “Prezi is zooming sketches on a digital napkin.”

5. authorStream allows you to convert your Powerpoint into video, which then lets you tap into all of the other video type hosting services like Vimeo, YouTube, Viddler, and others. This YouTube Marketing post by Travis Campbell inspired me to investigate the different options you are reading now.  I wondered if I could put my presentations on high traffic video sites without having to do a video.

6. Jing is a screen capture program that lets you capture whatever you have on your desktop (slides, webpage, image) and add audio as you click through. You can then save it to their slide presentation hosting site, Screencast or download it for email, chat or the web.

In the past I have frequently used GoToMeeting.com.  The only problem?  I was unable to save some of the audio from my presentations.  So I used Jing to re-create my presentation, added browser screens in a tour-like fashion, and audio. I was then able to email it to the people who could not join the presentation. The feedback was always terrific.

Jing 0

7. KinetiCast is a presentation hosting service that’s great for the analytical types who just have to know what happens when a prospect views the presentation. You upload your presentation, then send your prospect a download link which KinetiCast then tracks if the prospect actually visits and what they look at as well as how long they spend. They also let you download your presentation as a video.

8. Empressr has been widely written about and it is one of the market leaders. You can create your presentation, add video, audio, photos, then host it there for free and share it with others. They call it the world’s first free online storytelling tool.

9. 280Slides is a browser-based tool that requires no download. If you do not have presentation software, this is one of the most intuitive tools I’ve seen for free. You simply work right from your browser to create slides, insert video, photos, and audio and save in different formats. It also lets you publish it direct to Slideshare, which I found pretty neat.


10. Myplick lets you upload your presentation and then add audio to it. It is a slide hosting service, smaller and less well known than Slideshare, but because it helps you place audio into the presentation, I include it here. They give you various options for including your audio into a presentation allowing you to upload a video with the sound you want.

11. vcasmo allows you to put video and presentations together, which is pretty interesting. Your video goes on the left side and slides on the right. As you talk through your presentation, you are demonstrating your service or product by video. It looks and feels like an in-person presentation with their format.

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These tools can help you create presentations from scratch or enliven existing presentations with audio and screenshots. If you’ve ever given a presentation via PowerPoint or some other software tool, you can give that work a new life and post your presentations online.  Or just create a new whiz-bang presentation with all the bells and whistles.

Give some of these a try and let us know which ones work for you. Tell us about others you may like.

Tools Image via Shutterstock


New Business Ideas: Wacky Gizmos

Jelly Click

Jelly Click

Talk about gadgets, and everybody is after the same things: the latest, the fastest, most powerful, most advanced, etc.

Yet makers of gizmos and gadgets are looking into fresh ways to make geeky consumers get excited about their products. They are increasingly incorporating unusual, wacky and maybe even fun ideas into their gadgets.

Let’s have a look at some interesting ideas:

  • The Jelly Click inflatable mouse (pictured above) is a godsend for travelers who have to pack tons of gadgetry into their luggage and gadget bags. Save yourself that extra bit of space for your beloved iPod by flattening the Jelly Click before stuffing it into your bag. Just remember to inflate it up for use later.
  • Fancy an USB-powered massage while at work? The USB Far Infra-Red Pad is powered from a spare USB port, and it claims to emit infrared light onto your arms, back or biceps to remove the weariness and leave you revitalized after a long day at the computer desk. Compact and lightweight, you can get it from US$21.99.
  • Another USB-inspired idea, the USB calculator mouse might prove useful for all you business executives who are always poring over spreadsheets and crunching numbers. It’s a useful device for laptop users especially who don’t have a user-friendly keypad. Priced at £14.95, this integrated calculator mouse shows you the results of your calculations instantly without having to run additional apps to crunch your numbers.
  • The next idea is somewhat ridiculous, but Hello Kitty’s fans could be interested in it. The USB Kitty is a watch-cat for your computer. It comes with two infrared sensors to help alert any intruders by shaking its head and producing many different sounds. Helpful perhaps in warning people to leave your PC alone when you’re away for a bathroom  break.

What other unusual gadget ideas can you think of or have seen lately? Share them with us!

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This New Business Ideas Report is compiled specially for Small Business Trends from the editors of CoolBusinessIdeas.com.


New Business Ideas: More Than Shoes

FiveFingersIt’s hard to imagine entrepreneurs achieving mass market success with shoes. After all, shoes are everyday items and not very exciting as the latest gadgets.

Despite this, entrepreneurs around the world have come up with winning shoes ideas that have captured the attention of today’s consumers. You’ve probably seen countless people wearing the colorful Crocs shoes in your city. Here are more interesting footwear ideas to pique your curiosity.

  • Designed for physical exercise, the Kangoo Jumps rebound exercise shoesare loaded with springs so that you can jump higher than on your own two feet. You need not worry about adverse side-effects as the shoes reduce impact by 80% so they’re really easy on your joints, hips and spine.
  • The FiveFingers shoes (pictured above) target outdoor sports fans who prefer to go barefoot during their activities. These glove-like shoes permit you to safely enjoy your various physical activities such as running while retaining the sensation and effectiveness of being barefoot.
  • Get rid of smelly feet with Italy’s Geox shoes, created by Italian entrepreneur Mario Polegato. Fitted with a patented membrane, these Geox shoes are designed to leave toes cool and eliminate the bad smell because the soles are specially made to allow feet to “breathe” elegantly.
  • Walkers are standing up and taking note of Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) trainers. Based on the erect barefoot stride of Africa’s Masai tribe, the chunky-soled shoes create a rocking motion that improves posture and balance. Professional sportsmen apparently use MBT trainers to speed up regeneration, optimise their running style, and for speed and power training.

Have you seen any creative and innovative footwear ideas lately in your country?

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This New Business Ideas Report is compiled specially for Small Business Trends from the editors of CoolBusinessIdeas.com.


Futuristic WiFi Technologies Could Benefit Small Businesses

wifi available

Small businesses these days are getting up to the speed. Many of them have been forcing their large counterparts to acknowledge their potential. It’s not surprising therefore that a handsome number of small businesses are getting acquired by large businesses.

One reason behind the emergence of small businesses is the presence of Web tools and technologies that have been functioning as their leverage. Even though the list of such technologies doesn’t include WiFi, a small business can think of investing in it.

The business prospects of WiFi have not yet been fully discovered. That’s perhaps the reason small businesses mistakenly assume launching a WiFi business means becoming a connection provider. That’s not true because there are many other WiFi business models that are quite viable, and a small business could give them a thought. We’ll discuss those futuristic WiFi business models here.

WiFi-Enabled Appliances

The use of WiFi is no longer restricted to Internet connectivity. Nowadays, WiFi appliances are in the pipeline to enter into our homes, not in the form of Smartphones and other gadgets, but as coffee machines, washing machines and dryers. Such technologies have already started to put in appearances. In early 2013, Qualcomm introduced a coffee machine prototype. The machine lets anyone order a cup of coffee with a Tablet. As soon as the coffee is ready, the coffeemaker is notified.

Samsung introduced a WiFi enabled washing machine in 2013 that runs on a Mobile application. The machine is called Samsung WF457 and it offers customized cleaning solutions.

It’s intelligent enough to discriminate between different types of fabrics and different stains. The best part is the machine could be activated by simply installing an app on your mobile and reconfiguring the washer and dryer settings.

Samsung doesn’t qualify as a small business and neither does Qualcomm. So, you might wonder what bearing the doings of these tech giants have on small businesses. Here’s the answer: when these futuristic technologies become commonplace in the industry, their production, distribution and other costs related to marketing will shrink.

That day, small businesses will find opportunities galore.

My hunch is the day is not far ahead, and so small businesses that aim at prospering in the electronic appliance niche should start preparing themselves now.

WiFi for Pet Tracking

WiFi has added a new dimension to pet tracking. Americans love their pets. There are nearly 170 million pets in the United States. Their health and well-being concern their owners, but not as much as the possibility that they may get lost and never return. Pet owners think of ways to prevent this from happening.

Most pet trackers are equipped with GPS technology, which locates a pet in case it is lost. WiFi-enabled trackers, on the other hand, almost nullify the odds of the pet getting lost.

Location aside, WiFi pet trackers can also be used to track the activities of a pet. But before we go into that, let us first describe how the WiFi pet trackers prevent the pet from getting lost.

Pet trackers create a perimeter and, the moment the pet steps outside of it, sends alerts to its owner. As for tracking the pet’s activities, the collars store all the activity details and, through smartphone apps, the owners can have all the information synced for easy access. The WiFi pet-tracking market is flourishing and small businesses can enter into it to squeeze the opportunities.

A small business can offer its WiFi hotspot to pet owners on a paid basis. It can even work on the pet tracking hardware and develop mobile apps that run those hardware.

WiFi-Enabled Clothes

Don’t get startled. At the 2014 SA Style Awards, a WiFi-enabled dress was showcased. The fascinating thing about the dress is it changes colors on its own, depending on the geographic location where it is being worn. The dress was designed by MWEB, the second largest Internet service provider in South Africa.

Apart from fashion, the dress also functions as a WiFi hotspot, which means when (and if) the market becomes ripe for such dresses, then a user won’t need any WiFi hotspot to connect to the Web as she’d be able to use her own clothes for connectivity.

The technologies used to develop a WiFi-enabled dress are not open to all at this moment, which means small businesses can’t aim at the wholesale production of those dresses.

But in the future, they will be able to. If they ready themselves now, then they’ll have the first mover advantage, which is quite an edge in a competitive scenario such as this.

In a nutshell, WiFi offers a range of opportunities and if small businesses can’t keep their vigilante eyes open, then they’ll surely miss out on them.

WiFi Availability Photo via Shutterstock


Ringly Raises $5.1 Million to Create More Gadget Jewelry

012615 ringly

With ideas like the Smarty Ring winning support in crowdfunding campaigns, the market for mart jewelry has already been established.

But a company called Ringly, also known for a ring that lights up to signal incoming notifications, plans to push that market to the next level.

Now, after a successful $5.1 million round of Series A funding, Ringly is ready to develop even more wearables beyond its current offerings.

The influx of investment at Ringly comes primarily from Andreessen Horowitz, according to the company.

Other new investors in the company include High Line Venture Partners, Silas Capital, PCH, and more.

Ringly also received follow-on investments from First Round Capital, Mesa+, Social+Capital, and Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.

Since releasing its first wearable products, Ringly has grown from a group of three co-founders to a company of 12 people, its blog notes.

On the official Ringly blog, founder and CEO Christina Mercando writes:

“I didn’t set out to start a wearable technology company. In fact, when I first had the idea for Ringly, the term ‘wearables’ hadn’t even hit mainstream. I was simply tired of worrying where my phone was — at dinner, meetings, parties, drives, picnics, hikes, everywhere — for fear I’d miss something important.”

Ringly launched with a line of four wearable rings. These rings look the equivalent of some vintage costume jewelry. They have a simple setting with an 18k gold finish and a rather large stone, either a precious or semi-precious gem.

Remember, Ringly founder Mercando said that the company was founded with a fashion-first initiative.

In her blog post, Mercando adds:

“I’m not against the term wearables; it’s an important, growing category and perhaps that is where we fit in the world of tech. But we’re also a piece of jewelry that stands on its own?—it’s a mistake to only think of Ringly as a wearable.”

There’s a discreet light on the side of the ring that notifies users of incoming calls, texts, or any other types of alerts. A mobile app that corresponds with the Ringly ring can be set to alert users for any type of notification.

Ringly can also send a slight vibration to the finger that’s wearing the device when a notification has arrived.

The initial line of four rings was followed by a limited edition ring, too. All five are in the same style. All the rings are meant to be worn by women.

With the infusion of capital, Ringly hopes to expand its line to include more wearable devices.

In her post, Mercando mentions “a shirt that tracks your heart rate while you’re at the gym” and “a bathing suit that monitors sun exposure at the beach.” But she gave no further specifics about what products the company might unveil next.

Though she did hint on a next phase of growth for the company and suggested the next step in the industry would involve diversification of offerings.

TechCrunch reports Ringly may have set its sites on a diversified selection of rings, and perhaps bracelets next.

Image: Ringly

More in: Gadgets


Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks, Top Picks for 2015

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks 2

Tech gadgets can make great gifts for business partners, clients, and tech savvy team members. And with plenty of new innovations being released each year, there are lots of new gadgets to choose from for the people on your 2015 holiday gift list.

For the really tech savvy geeks on your holiday shopping list, check out the list of gadget gifts below for some unique gift ideas.

Gadget Gifts for 2015

Bluesmart Suitcase

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Business travel can be a pain. But this smart suitcase offers a number of features to make it easier, like a battery charger, digital lock, location tracking and a built-in scale.

Currently available for preorder, the Bluesmart suitcase sells for $399. So it’s likely not something you’d pick up for your entire team. But for your business partner or jetsetting top client, Bluesmart offers a unique gift option.

IZON 2.0 WiFi Video Monitor

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

The latest version of IZON’s video monitoring system comes with several useful features to help people monitor their home or business. The camera works with both iOS and Android systems to allow you to access footage from your smartphone.

Starting at $79.95 on their website, IZON offers options that work for both home and business. And they have monitors made for keeping an eye on babies and pets as well.

Wocket Smart Wallet

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Carrying around a leather wallet with multiple credit and gift cards is so 2014. The Wocket smart walletallows users to input information from multiple credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards onto one Wocket Card, with added security features like voicematch technology and password storage.

At $179 the Wocket wallet is a unique new option. And the company plans to begin offering different wallet accessories in the near future as well.

Helios Smart Solpro Charger

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

This solar powered smart charger allows you to keep all of your different mobile devices charged and ready while you’re out and about. It has a 5,000mAh battery, three high-efficiency solar panels, two USB output ports and one USB input port.

Helios Smart chargers start at $119 and come in a few different colors. With so many people carrying multiple mobile devices with them at all times, this is a safe bet for pretty much any tech savvy person on your list.

ZUtA Portable Pocket Printer

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Mobile devices make it easy to do business from anywhere. But printing out actual documents hasn’t always been so easy, until now. The ZUtA portable pocket printer is a small device that connects to your smartphone or computer and prints on any size paper.

With a pre-order price of $199, the printer’s second batch is already sold out. But the company is accepting orders for a January 2016 batch. So if you’re willing to wait until then, this could make a useful gift for the techies on your list.

Nyrius ARIES Home+ Wireless HDMI Transmitter

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

This device allows you to wirelessly stream HD video and audio from your cable box, Blu-ray player, computer or gaming console to other devices within your home.

For the tech geeks with busy families or with a strong interest in TV and movies, this could be a great solution for those times when multiple family members are fighting over one TV. Prices start at $200 for a transmitter with two HDMI inputs.

TrackR Bravo

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Everyone has that friend or family member who’s always misplacing their keys or wallet. This coin-sized device can go on keychains, dog collars, or other items and connects to your smartphone to transmit a noise when you’re looking for your belongings.

One device costs just $29.99, so it’s a low-cost option for the people on your list. Or you can even order multiple devices at a discounted rate.

Gifts Image via Shutterstock

Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more tips about holiday trends.

More in: Holidays