Tag Archives: MX Telecom

Are you a carder? The utility of business cards.

I was recently handed a business card.

I didn’t ask for it.

It was handed to me by someone I knew.

Only casually, I’ll admit.

But I had corresponded with this individual a number of times before we met that day.

I had communicated with this person over the phone, texted and shared emails.

We had interacted so often and over so many different medium that it made it hard for me to understand the utility she felt, in that moment, offering her card.

I clearly already had her office number, cell phone number, email and address (I was in her office at the time).

But she still felt compelled to offer it to me.

Not to be rude, yet still feeling perplexed, I obliged.

Took her card.

Gave it the perfunctory once-over.

Before promptly stuffing it in the right front pocket of my waistcoat.

That’s a vest for the haberdashery-challenged.

But why did she offer the card in the first place?

Force of habit?

The card held no more information on it, than she knew I already knew.

And it made me reflect how impulsively we all often give out cards.

I’m a card giver.

“Do you have a card?”

Sure…fumble fumble…here you go.

“Can I have your card?”

No problem…sift sift…I’ve got one right here.

I’m so over sifting through my wallet, fumbling around in my briefcase or digging in my pockets to hand or deposit a business card.

And then what happens?

You’ve got a stack of people’s cards cluttering your office/home/desk.

Or you’ve got unused boxes of your own business cards from every job you ever had.

I’d prefer to just exchange information via our phones and keep it moving.

If asked, I oblige.

But cards get on my last nerve.

So much so, that years ago I began looking for alternatives.

I played with Bump, to tone down the whole card game.

Unfortunately (for me) it took more steps to Bump than open my phone, enter ten digits and press send.

So I tried other strategies to extricate myself from cards.

When I worked for MX Telecom (now OpenMarket) I had a short code you could text “Stephen” to and get all my contact info via SMS.

It was very novel a trade shows, but people weren’t generally up on texting for such utilitarian purposes then (I’m talking 2008).

I even gave folks the old “trying to save trees” line to avoid giving or receiving cards.

And it was all so PC and Eco friendly, that it worked – for a time.

But folks still extended their hands, with those wretched slivers of card stock and ink.

Nowadays, and as much as possible, I try to stay ahead of the game by always affirmatively getting contact details and by-passing the card-exchange ritual altogether.

With my iPhone, I cut to the chase and simply shoot my vCard to anyone requesting my info.

And I try not to cringe whenever I hear those dreaded words or see an outstretched hand – with a card in it.

Is it just me?

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Filed under iPhone, opinion, rant, Smack talking

Go mobile or go the way of the dinosaur.

Ad & Marketing Industry News

Last night, I read an article in AdAge about how both Google and Facebook were staking their respective futures on mobile, and how mobile was increasingly becoming the foundation of their efforts.

The Marksmen are a production unit ahead of their time.

Since 2005, when I started working with The Marksmen, developing applications that could be accessed and utilized from mobile devices (it all started with the Treo), I knew that mobile represented the future of computing.

Notice I said “computing” as opposed to content consumption or the internet, because with the advent of the smartphone, there are fewer and fewer things that one can do exclusively on a PC that can’t be done on a mobile device.

It was while at DOT.TUNES that I cut my mobile teeth.

From there it was DOT.TUNES, the first mobile application developed for the iPhone BEFORE the release of the iPhone SDK, which allowed users to remotely access their entire iTunes library directly from their mobile devices (even if it wasn’t an iPhone – holla!).

I even did a stint at MX Telecom (now OpenMarket), one of the largest mobile aggregators in the world, to learn about the ins-and-outs of the mobile industry, from the perspective of the underlying technology behind SMS/MMS/PSMS/Wap, mobile billing, etc.

Ever since, I have been preaching about the importance of mobile to anyone who would listen.

I tell virtually all the clients I consult, that they need to adopt a mobile strategy.

Set up a basic SMS service.

Build a mobile version (or mobile optimized version) of your website.

Create a brand specific mobile app.

Do anything to incorporate some mobile elements to your brand identity or risk going the way of the dinosaur.

I’m saying, if Google and Facebook are banking so heavily on it, doesn’t it seem to make good business sense?

They’re only multi-billion dollar companies.

Clearly, there is some wisdom to their actions.

WeHarlem knows mobile. Do you WeHarlem?

Recently, I’ve been speaking with Sergio Lilavois, one of the founding partners of WeHarlem, an interactive e-community for those that live, work or socialize in Harlem.

WeHarlem has launched several innovative initiatives directed squarely at harnessing and applying the power of mobile devices.

They have a social media website, WeHarlem.com, which links residents and local businesses.

In addition, they developed device specific applications, for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices, giving WeHarlem users the ability to access all of WeHarlem’s features on-the-go.

One of the most valuable features of WeHarlem’s mobile app, is the Wi-Fi locator, which enables users to find Harlem businesses offering free Wi-Fi in their establishments.

WeHarlem’s strategy involves providing Harlem residents and businesses with bi-directional utility, generating foot-traffic, loyalty and retention.

We’re in discussions right now to help bring businesses even deeper into the fold, by offering services to enable them to more closely connect with their target audiences using mobile and social media technology.

There have been other shining moments, when the strategies I propose actually gain a foothold.

Vincent Morgan, for example, knew immediately that he wanted it all, a mobile version of his primary website and an SMS alert service.

Although he failed in his efforts to dethrone Charles Rangel, he succeeded in rewriting the way candidates utilize the web, social media and mobile in their campaigns.

Anyway, the AdAge article renewed my passion for evangelizing mobile and I will continue to preach the value of mobile to all who will listen!

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Stephen Chukumba says: “The Art of the Entrepreneur”

For those who know me, I’ve been a lawyer in private practice (Chukumba & Cook, LLC), IP specialist (Musa Consulting), partner & general counsel for a digital promotions company (Digiwaxx), head of business and legal affairs for a production company (Marksmen Productions), partner and director of business development for a web and application start up (DOT.TUNES), business development manager for a mobile aggregator (MX Telecom) and I’ve counseled numerous companies in the capacity of an independent business consultant (Red Hot, Sony, Wu-Tang, etc.).

I’ve also started a number of different ventures, USA Records, Source International, C&C Consulting, and most recently, Shadow Propaganda.

I’ve had one job in the past twelve years (MX Telecom). When I interviewed for that job, I was asked ‘I can see that you’ve done a lot of entrepreneurial things in the past. How do I know you’re going to stay here, and not leave to pursue the next big thing?’ At the time, my response was that mobile was where I really wanted to be, and I saw a lot of growth in the space. I wanted to be a part of that growth.

But a little over a year later, I find myself, once again, engaged in a new entrepreneurial venture, FonLabs, and have fully come to terms with the fact that I’m not an employee.

To put it plainly, I’m a chronic entrepreneur.

I’ve met many entrepreneurs in my day, masquerading as employees. We’re fairly easy to spot (if you ask me). While they may be on their 9 to 5 grind, their minds are constantly engaged in contemplating grandiose plans, that are simply incongruous with their jobs. They are trapped between the security of a steady paycheck and the lure of true wealth that can only be achieved by working for self.

Being an entrepreneur has its obvious risks. There is no steady paycheck. You’ve got to earn to eat. What’s more, if you’re not constantly hustling, the burden of your expenses can quickly break you.

But the risks pale in comparison to the upside. Your time is your own. There is no one over your shoulder, critiquing your performance or micro-managing your every move. No office politics. Unlimited earning potential. I could go on and on, but in a word, being an entrepreneur is freedom.

Many of the businesses I’ve started never hit the 5 year mark (the benchmark of a successful business). A few did. Some of my businesses generated over six figures annually. Others stayed in the red.

The sign of a successful entrepreneur, however, is not home many times you failed or succeeded, but rather, whether you were able to achieve success after failure. Did you throw in the towel? Or did you get up, bloody and battered, but unbroken and ready for another round?

I am an entrepreneur, and I think I may have finally found the brass ring. Whether FonLabs, is, indeed, that ring, remains to be seen. But I can tell you definitively, I’ve got a great team of like-minded partners, all hungry and ready to take the world by storm. We’ve got a tight plan, a fantastic product, excellent relationships and the indomitable spirit, that is the signature of any true entrepreneur.

For those of you suffering at a dead-end job, or merely tired of the day-to-day of working for a paycheck, come up with an exit strategy. Focus on your strengths and what truly inspires you. Stack away some chips. Put a little aside each payday and plan for the day that you can liberate yourself and do you.

That’s the art of the entrepreneur – doing you – against all odds.

Here’s a ‘BIG UP!’ to all my fellow entrepreneurs. Holla at your boy if you ever need any advice, or merely words of inspiration. I’ve given counsel to hundreds of people in my day, and I’d be happy to offer you whatever sage advice I can.

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Filed under branding