Monday, July 26, 2010

The Women in the Arena

Yesterday I stumbled upon KeyArena - former home to the NBA's Seattle Supersonics, and current home to the WNBA's Seattle Storm and Seattle University Redhawks . When I say 'stumbled' upon the arena, I mean it literally. The facility is the most unassuming professional arena I have ever seen. It's really hard to imagine that as recent as 14 years ago, the Sonics were hosting Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals... and that Kevin Durant played his first season in that arena only three years ago.

Opened in 1962, the structure sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood, lined with trees and not a parking lot in sight. The court itself sits some 35 feet below ground level, making the top of the facility appear to be only about 30 feet above ground. I'm not kidding when I say I've been to high school gymnasiums with a larger physical footprint.
Needless to say, in an era where 'bigger is better' the inevitable happened when the Sonics franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 after the state of Washington refused to support public funding of the much needed expansion of the 17,000 seat arena.
Standing there in amazement at the facility, my friend and I decided to buy some tickets to the evenings WNBA game between the Storm and the Tulsa Shock. Honestly, our interest in purchasing the tickets had nothing to do with watching the game in an empty arena, but more to do with wanting to see the inside of the facility. Boy were we in for a surprise.
Although the arena was small, the atmosphere inside was electric. Our late arrival (two minutes after tip-off) was met by 8,000 local residents standing on their feet cheering on their league leading Storm. Within seconds, the unassuming facade of the arena became a distant memory as the noise level inside the arena matched any large arena I've ever been to.
More than the noise, there was also a feeling of community within that arena that I've never felt at a professional sporting event (and I've been to a lot). The teams ability to integrate the fans into the game, combined with the intimacy of the arena made for a winning combination. I can only imagine how loud that place got when the Sonics played there. It's really a shame that there's only a few of these old-time facilities still around.


Okay, now to my point...
Fast Pitch! is the KeyArena of Social Networking
Much like KeyArena, Fast Pitch! caters to a smaller, hyper-local community interested in a cost-effective, yet highly valuable and personable experience. Similar to the Storm fans, the size of our arena (network) is irrelevant as long as what's happening inside our virtual doors offers value.
Much like a large 50,000 seat arena doesn't always guarantee an exciting experience... a 500 million member social network doesn't always guarantee new business.
The ball's in your court...

Bill


Sleepless in Seattle

I know. Not a very original blog title. But after going hard in Vancouver for the past five days, it's the best I could come up with. And, since I'm on my 5th cup of coffee (from 5 different locations, all not named Starbucks) in the past 24 hours, it's actually appropriate. In fact, at this very moment, Fast Pitch! is headquartered at a Caffe Ladro. I'm wired.

Having never been to Seattle before, I'm really looking forward to getting to know the city this week. So far, I really like what I see. I can already tell, it's on my short list of places to live someday. Admittedly, the weather has been ridiculously good, so I'm sure there's some deception at play here.
The rest of the week will involve a couple of meetings, an event I'm hosting, typical tourist stuff, and yes... lots of coffee.
I can always sleep on the plane Friday.

Bill

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fast Pitch! Now Headquartered In Canada

Just kidding...
For the rest of this week, I'm vacationing (and working) in Vancouver, Canada en route to Seattle, WA. This is my first time to either city and I'm really looking forward to the next 10 days. I've been joking with everyone back in Florida that I may not come back. After my first 24 hours here (in Vancouver), that's closer to being true. I've already got my eye on a condo in the Coal Harbour area (see Update below). Just don't tell my wife that to make it happen we'll be living in 200 sq ft. :)


What a cool city (literally). The weather here right now is nothing short of amazing. Coming from the constant steam bath that is Florida, I'm blown away by seeing white caps on the surrounding mountains (although I'm sure I'd also be blown away in February when it's 20 degrees).

Right now I'm working across the street from our hotel at a Blenz Coffee. I swear the average age of the people walking by is 30. Or maybe they're all 50 and I'm just used to being around senior citizens in Florida. In any case, it's definitely a nice change of pace.



That's all for now. I only have a short window of opportunity to get some work done, and then it's off to more sightseeing. More to come...

Best,

Bill

Update: Yaletown is giving Coal Harbour a run for it's money. I guess whichever area has the best deal on a massively reduced short-sale wins. :)



Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Happy 4th Fast Pitch!

This year, the 4th of July week meant something different for Fast Pitch! It was also our 4th birthday!


For the first time in four years, a few of us took the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishment by taking a long overdue vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. John) for, well... 4 days! Needless to say, it was a great time. We stayed at the new
Grande Bay Resort near the port of St. John and literally spent 96 hours doing nothing but boating, eating, drinking and sleeping (in that order). If you've never been to that part of the world, I highly recommend it. The beaches and hospitality are unlike any place I have ever seen. Google it. As amazing as the pictures are, they don't even do it justice.


Back to reality.

As I sit here playing 'catch-up' on countless emails and overdue marketing campaigns, it amazes me how much we missed while being away from 'civilization' and social media for less than one week. Look no further than our own network to see how much happens when you're not looking. During those 96 hours here's what we missed:
  • Over 600 new members joined Fast Pitch!
  • Over 1000 new connections were made on Fast Pitch!
  • Over 300 press releases were created on Fast Pitch!
  • Over 50 members became Fans of Fast Pitch! on Facebook
  • Nearly 1000 members logged into their profile
  • Over 100 events were posted to Fast Pitch!
  • Nearly 200 people synced their Fast Pitch! Profile to Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare
  • Over 500 people received the Fast Pitch! 50-page Pocket Guide in the mail
Not a bad week... and for that matter, an even better year!
As a self-funded Internet company facing BIG competition, the fact that we continue to grow, is a testament to our product, staff and loyal members. Also, considering that over 56% of business fail within their first four years of operation (some say 95%) we're really excited to be heading into our fifth year.
I guess we're officially 'over the hump'? I can't wait for next years 5-day trip.
:)

Bill

Monday, July 05, 2010

Video 6 of 9: Using Fast Pitch! for Email Marketing

Joey P. discussed how Fast Pitch! members use our 3 Step Contact email marketing tool to create, send and track thousands of emails each month. Learn how by becoming a member of Fast Pitch! you'll save hundreds (event thousands) of dollars per year by using 3 Step in place of those 'other' pricey alternatives.