Monday, December 22, 2008

Year In Review


As 2009 quickly approaches and 2008 washes away (at least here in sunny Florida), I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the past 365 days. Below are some of the highlights:

Member Growth: Fast Pitch! has continued to experience significant year over year growth in profile creation and membership conversions. Throughout 2008 Fast Pitch! has ranked anywhere between 2nd and 4th globally and nationally for overall website traffic among popular online business networks - making us one of the most visibile Internet properties in the world and clearly an established front-runner in the world of online business networking.

New Features: Fast Pitch! picked up where we left off in 2007 by continuing to add more features (and value) to our members. On average, Fast Pitch! successfully launched a new feautre or application every two weeks! Some of the features we added in 2008 included:
  • Live Chat (Virtual Tradeshows) - used weekly by over 55,000 professionals worldwide to interact in real-time.
  • Record & Embed Video - create videos and embed them directly to your profile and content such as press, events, etc...

  • Email Marketing - Create, Send and Track up to 50,000 emails per month for free.

  • Status Updates (w/ Twitter integration) - tell the community what you're up to. Integrate with your Twitter community.

  • Facebook Application - allow your friends on Facebook the ability to quickly access your professional identity - without compromising the social elements of your Facebook profile.

  • Translation (7 languages) - Quickly translate Fast Pitch! into other languages including all our user generated content!

  • Bookmarking & Sharing - share your Fast Pitch! content across other networks and media platforms including Facebook, Digg and others.

  • Affiliation Directory - the largest searchable online professional directory in the world built within Fast Pitch! - segmenting members among over 5,000 worldwide organizations amd allowing all of them to quickly connect.

  • College Directory - add colleges to your profile, get exposure to other alumni, search for alumni. Over 3,000 colleges added!

  • Localized User Experience - have content delivered to you based on location. Content includes video, press, blog articles, events and more.

  • Inbox Distribution - send content directly to the inbox of thousands of other members at one time based on industry type, location and more.

  • Profile Enhancements (keywords, updates, network, etc...) - real-time updates and summaries of each profile provided to your visitors.
  • New Public Profile - a designated link to your own public profile void of any third party advertising.
  • Invite Contacts - quickly upload and invite existing contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and more.
Customer Support: Fast Pitch! added additional ways for our users to communicate with us and learn more about how to use the network. Here's how:
  • 'How To Use Fast Pitch!Manual' - downloaded over 10,000 times. Over 75 pages of detailed instruction for how to maximize your experience on Fast Pitch!. Updated quarterly.
  • 'How To Use Fast Pitch! Webinars' - attended by over 1,000 people - These 100 webinars lasted 30-45 minutes and offered insight online business network. Look for more in 2009!

  • 'How To Use Fast Pitch! Video Series' - 15 videos added throughout the Fast Pitch! website providing users with simple, intuitive demonstrations of features including: creating a profile, posting & distributing press, and more.

  • Toll-Free Phone Number

  • Interactive Chat - get real-time help from a Fast Pitch! expert anytime, anywhere.
Recognition: Throughout 2008 Fast Pitch! was honored as a top network from the following media outlets: MSNBC's Your Business, 6 Star Reviews, Mashable Open Web Awards, All Things Web 2.0 and more...

Miscellaneous: During 2008 we changed our logo, re-designed much of our website, added less expensive quarterly payment options, expanded our office (new location), partnerered with some excellent organizations including GotVMail and PhoneVite, Chambers of Commerce, etc... and launched our First Annual Business of the Year Awards.


A sepcial thanks to the team here at Fast Pitch! and to all of our members around the world for helping make Fast Pitch! one of most active online business commuitites in the world. Look for continued growth and enhanced functionality throughout 2009.

Best,


Bill

Monday, December 15, 2008

Where's Bill and Rich?

When my business partner Rich and I first launched Fast Pitch! a couple of years ago, we ran the company out of a 'subsidized' 10' x 10' windowless room. Although the space worked great for us at the time (it was perfect for constant brainstorming sessions, etc), we knew early on that we were destined for bigger and better things. It was only a matter of time.

Before we could pack up and move, there were a few milestones we needed to reach like, um... a little thing called revenue. However, rather than focusing exclusively on money as the primary motivating factor for leaving, we decided to make a game of it. Instead, we did something unusual.

We printed every order and taped them to our walls. We would not leave that office until every square inch of it was covered with paper.

Needless to say, the decor was unique. Imagine thousands of of 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper greeting you each day as you walked in the door to your office. No windows, no paintings... just paper... everywhere... with black and white print. It was enough to motivate us and make us lose our mind all at once.

Fortunately the former came first. Just when it felt like the walls were closing in on us (literally), we posted our final order to the bottom corner of the back wall in early 2007. Moments after our final order was posted, the now 'infamous founders' picture of our big accomplishment was taken using a Blackberry Pearl.

To commemorate the 2 1/2 year anniverary of that big day (and a recent birthday), I received one of the coolest gifts from Rich, who had the founders picture rendered into a

30" x 24" mosaic comprised of over 15,000
Fast Pitch! member headshots and logos.

What makes this mosaic so great is that many of our member headshots that make up this rendering were a part of the original picture (albeit as pieces of paper hanging behind us on our walls!).

Take a moment to click and enlarge the image (right) and begin looking for your headshot or logo. If you find it, send us an email with approximate coordinates of where to find you and we will enter you to win an Apple iPhone. Also, the first person to locate myself and Rich will automatically receive a $100 gift card to Office Depot!

Good Luck!


Bill

Monday, December 08, 2008

Get Out The Vote

The Mashable Open Web Awards experience recently got us thinking... why not host our own award? As one of the largest online business networks in the world our abilty to discover some amazing companies and people across many different categories will make for an intiguing 'event'.

So...

Fast Pitch! just announced the First Annual Fast Pitch! Business of the Year Awards. The winners will be determined by a combination of open voting and an expert panel of judges. Finalists will receive increased visibility across the Fast Pitch! website over the next few weeks, in addition to considerable recognition and media exposure for the winners to be named in early 2009. Additionally, prizes will be awarded to the nine winners chosen in February 2009 among the following categories:


  • Business of the Year
  • Top Startup
  • Best New Technology
  • Best New Product
  • Best Networker
  • Top Green Business
  • Top Non-Profit
  • Top Business Blog
  • Top Business Video
To nominate your business, visit our awards page and select a category for your business. Then begin gathering votes from friends and colleagues by a). Embedding our voting widget on your blog, website, newsletters and more... Or, 2). Forwarding people your custom voting link which will take them to a page to vote for you.

The timeline for voting is as follows:
  • Open Voting / Nominations - Dec. 6, 2008 - Jan. 5, 2009
  • Top 10 Finalists Named - Jan. 9, 2009
  • Final Round Voting - Jan. 10, 2009 - Jan. 30, 2009
  • Winners Announced - Feb. 2, 2009
Rules for voting are as follows:
  1. A user may only cast One Vote per Category Per Day. Fast Pitch! tracks IP Address and Email Address to ensure fair voting.

  2. A nominee can promote their nomination by using the Widget or sending the direct link to any person (voters do NOT have to be members of Fast Pitch).

  3. A nominee can enter into multiple categories.

  4. The winners will be chosen by number of votes and a panel of expert judges will facilitate each round of voting.
Fast Pitch! Members - Get out the vote. Visit: http://www.fastpitchnetworking.com/awards.cfm

Good Luck!

Bill