August 21, 2007

Carl Schramm Gives an Entrepreneurial Pep-talk

I’m about 15 minutes into a smokin’ podcast address by Carl Schramm, president of the Kauffman Foundation, given at Stanford University earlier this month.

Description of the talk from the website:

Carl Schramm, President of the Kauffman Foundation, examines the vital role of entrepreneurship in the changing economy. He emphasizes how entrepreneurs have a positive influence on the American economy by creating ways to reinvent and innovate the rules of life. For example, half of the jobs created in 2007 are from firms less than five years old. Entrepreneurs teach us about human needs we did not know existed, create jobs that provide security for people, and generate social welfare, he says.

I had the chance to see Carl speak at an ACA event in NYC last year and came away well inspired. I think you’ll get the same vibe from this address.




I Heart Skype, but not Skype PR

As many of you may know, Skype left millions of people without a phone last week when their service crashed for 36+ hours. Skype is central to a number of critical processes here at FundingUniverse; so when the outage happened, we felt the crunch.

I absolutely love Skype. Unlimited domestic calls for twenty-something dollars/year is the best deal on planet earth, period. (No disrespect to my all-time fave, Diddy Riese in Westwood, CA.) But the outage was enough to test my fidelity to their service, and their response has been less than spectacular, although not a total failure.

I have heard absolutely zero from Skype until today. Everything I have learned about the outage has come through blogs and other news sources. As a customer, I shouldn’t have to search the internet to find out why one of the most crucial tools I use isn’t working. A simple email would have been great — much better than having to dig through their site to find out what was happening. A company like Skype should have a PR plan in place for this.

Well, today I did finally hear from Skype. Here’s the full text of the email I got:

Hello

You may or may not know but last week Skype wasn’t available for a
couple of days. There were a number of reasons for this and I am
delighted to say that the problem is now well and truly sorted and
everything is back to normal. For those of you who tried to use Skype
during that time but couldn’t, we’re very sorry. For those of you who
didn’t try to use Skype – well thankfully you were not affected but we
want to reassure everyone that Skype is now working happily and the
problem is fixed.

We know we have many faithful users out there who give us feedback
(good and bad) on what we’re doing as a company. The Skype community
makes us what we are. Without you, our users, we simply wouldn’t
exist. We’ve helped people stay in touch with their friends and
family over the past four years without any massive hitch and we want
it to stay that way.

When the unexpected happens, it’s important to remember the people who
stuck behind us and whose loyalty humbled us. I want to thank
everyone for their support, patience and being part of the Skype
community. And for those of you who missed out on using Skype last
week – I want to especially thank you as well.

As a goodwill gesture to all you faithful Skype Pro, Skype Unlimited,
SkypeIn or Skype Voicemail customers, we’re adding an additional seven
days to your current subscription, free of charge. And even if you
didn’t miss out on using Skype last week – you can still have a week
free on Skype, on the house!

So please enjoy it, call your loved ones, friends, family and
colleagues and thanks again.

Talk soon,

The people at Skype

The seven days free is a great move on Skype’s part. Nice work, Skypers.

The email should have been from Niklas, not “The people at Skype”. An apology like this should come from the top.

The email’s “thrown together” grammar gave it a real, sincere tone. I like that.

As noted above, the email should have come much sooner.

What does this have to do with entrepreneurship and start-ups? Well, when you are starting a company, glitches are bound to happen. We can all learn from the good and bad things Skype did to respond to this issue.

We can respond to issues like these quickly and transparently, being as up-front with our customers as possible. We can have a simple PR plan put together when big mistakes are made.

That being said, I’m back to using Skype, and I probably always will use it — a killer app goes a long way toward fostering forgiveness from customers. I just hope this never happens again.