Two things to know today…

There are two news items about the Santa Cruz TECH scene out today:

1. An NPR Marketplace NATIONAL broadcast:
Sick of the commute, Santa Cruz tries own tech hub

But the local tech ecosystem is growing.

Close to 100 people showed up to a recent weeknight tech meet-up downtown, sponsored by the Santa Cruz Office of Economic Development. “Five years ago, we really had to beg to get people here,” says Doug Erickson, a regular on the Santa Cruz tech scene.

Afterwards, commuters fill out a survey designed to find out what it would take to make them stay in Santa Cruz. “What percentage of your current compensation would a Santa cruz opportunity have to come up with to get you to forgo your commute?” one question asks.

The man behind the survey is venture capitalist Bud Colligan. He’s lived in Santa Cruz for 18 years, but he didn’t always invest here. In December, Colligan started a group called the Central Coast Angels with 20 Silicon Valley veterans who live in Santa Cruz.

“It’s people from Google, Symantec, Apple, Palm,” Colligan says. “At our first meeting, we had a discussion, of, well, ‘Should we also do angel investments over the hill?’ And my response was, ‘You know, there’s a thousand angels over the hill. That’s not somewhere where we’re gonna have a dramatic impact.’ Here, we could have a dramatic impact.”

Listen to or read the full broadcast here.

2. A great article in today’s Good Times Santa Cruz:
Approaching Critical Mass — Is 2014 the year Santa Cruz lands on the tech map?

Just as the modern computer evolved from the massive, lone calculating machines of days past into a network of sleek, interconnected devices, so too has the tech sector of Santa Cruz County developed from a few large companies (think: Borland, Plantronics, and Santa Cruz Operation) into a sprawling web of freelancers, startups, and beyond.

“It seemed like it shifted suddenly,” says Sara Isenberg, publisher of the online tech digest “It seemed to me like there was a big bang of tech that wasn’t just based on big companies.”

Isenberg points to 2008 as a turning point thanks to the foundation of shared coworking offices like NextSpace and, later, Cruzioworks, and the emergence of groups and events that served as binding agents for techies in the county, including Santa Cruz Geeks (which is now mostly inactive), Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup, and TechRaising.

Read the full article here.



This is PART 1 of 2. Read PART 2 here: A day in the life: More promoting the Santa Cruz Tech Ecosystem.

Whew. October 17, 2013, was rich with tech ecosystem community activities in Santa Cruz, CA!

1. SVBJ Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Santa Cruz insert

The Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 16 page insert — Santa Cruz: A Vibrant Hub of Tech Innovation — produced by Bonnie Lipscomb, Executive Director, City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Department, was distributed with the Friday, October 18 print SVBJ. I was able to pick up advance copies from Bonnie’s office and more copies seem to be filtering out around Santa Cruz. It’s great to see so many companies, organizations, and people I know included in this insert, including — ta da — Santa Cruz Tech Beat. In my role as Tech Beat curator, I was a resource to the SVBJ journalist who put this together.

2. CLV Community Leadership Visit insert

I’m very pleased to have completed a 3 page insert about Santa Cruz Tech Beat for the Chamber’s October 27 and 28 Community Leadership Visit (CLV) booklet.

3. BSOE RR Baskin School of Engineer Research Review Day

I attended the Baskin School of Engineering Research Review Day. What I appreciated most, aside from the opportunity to hear about current research, was the networking. I already knew most of the people I was hoping to run into, but I especially enjoyed a talk by Robert Klein called “A Start Towards Solutions for the Crisis in Communication and Funding of Scientific Research.” In a chat directly following the talk, Klein emphasized to me that scientists need to get the word out to the general public (note: Santa Cruz Tech Beat and beyond) in order to get funding. Writing scientific papers is not enough, he said.

4. UCSC Ed Talks

In the evening, I attended UCSC’s Ed Talks at the top of The Ritt. Janet Napolitano attended, too, as part of her visit to UCSC. We heard three interesting talks by leading educators followed by a wine reception. Despite being billed at TED-style talks, if you’re familiar with TED, you’ll know they weren’t. TED talks are much more personal and revealing, and are typically as much about the person as the topic. These talks were still entertaining and informative. Co-hosted by Chancellor George Blumenthal and Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant. Good food, good company. Another great crowd for networking which a Who’s Who at UC Santa Cruz in attendance. Talk topics were:

  1. The Quest to Conquer Cancer: Computer Geeks to the Rescue! by David Haussler
  2. Saving Endangered Species: The Story of the Hawaiian Monk Seal by Terrie Williams
  3. Humanities Today: The Transformational Power of Student-Centered Learning by Alan Christy

Again, big news day for Santa Cruz Tech Beat.

The above post is PART 1 of 2. Read PART 2 here: A day in the life: More promoting the Santa Cruz Tech Ecosystem.

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Can Santa Cruz grow into a tech hub?

Read this trilogy by Xconomy’s Wade Roush. Kudos to Wade for diving in and telling our story, with all of the nuances, blemishes, and challenges.


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I’m pleased and proud as my brother, Daniel Isenberg, launches his new book this week. [What follows is a shameless plug but I also think Dan has written a timely, interesting, and relevant book.] Dan’s book, Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value by Daniel Isenberg, is fresh off Harvard Business Review Press and available to order and purchase on Amazon. I look forward to having my own signed copy in about two weeks. Until you get your copy of this book, you can look the Amazon Look Inside! Preview to read some of Dan’s fascinating examples of real business builders. Articles, interviews, and reviews include:

Dan is a Professor of Entrepreneurship Practice, Babson Executive and Enterprise Education, at Babson College. There, he established the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project, aka BEEP. The program helps leaders around the world create the policies, structures, programs and cultures that foster entrepreneurship. Read Dan’s article “How Entrepreneurs Defy Expectations – The buzz of entrepreneurship is all around us these days.”


Here’s some great guidance of how to reclaim some time and improve your chances of getting a reply.



Web Analytics Trio from Scott Design

by Sara Isenberg on February 7, 2013

in Articles, Blogging, SEO

One of the reasons I maintain a blog is to share information I find around the web with clients. And to share it in a place where I’ll find it easily again (my blog).

With that, I’d like to share a trio of recent posts by Scott Design about Web Analytics. I appreciate the concise and targeted information Scott Design routinely provides.

Are Google Analytics accurate?

There are many different sources for web analytics. You can set up free Google Analytics on your site, you might get analytics from your website or blog host, and you might have paid for an advanced analytics tool. But what happens when they all return different numbers in their reports? Which one is right? Read more »

Accuracy vs. precision in web analytics

When looking at web analytics reports, it’s easy to get sucked in by the numbers and start treating the metrics as precise counts. There is a difference between “accurate” and “precise,” and this difference is particularly useful when working with analytics data. Read more »

The right way to use web analytics

While you can’t get exact numbers from any one analytics program, the data from one program, such as Google Analytics, can be used to do valuable comparisons that can help you gain insights about your visitors, spot patterns and trends, and figure out what is working on your site and what isn’t. Read more »




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Click to enlarge.

One of my coolest new discoveries recently is this infographic to the right about Web Equity — Owning Your Digital Presence, courtesy of Mike Blumenthal. (Click on image to enlarge, click again to enlarge more.)

In one infographic, you can see an overview of many basics that contribute to your strong online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).

From the author, Mike Blumenthal:

The many elements of an online presence can build on each and can work together for a business. The process is best done in an environment with more control ratherthan less. Because of the changing nature of the Internet, a SMBs marketing investment should always reinforce and strengthen the elements over which they have the most ownership.

I look forward to sharing and discussing this with clients when we meet to discuss their web presence, local search, and SEO.

View original infographic here.



I appreciated Alex Cowan’s recent blog post called “Less Hostess, More Sushi. In this post, Cowan discusses providing more content for freelancers, so I took note. The post presents six ideas — he calls them “Freelancing Products” — that leverage Design Thinking, and Lean Startup. He writes that the six ideas are “highly a) sellable b) repeatable and c) valuable to the consultant’s progressive accumulation of relevant expertise.”

Cowan is the author of this book: Starting a Tech Business: A Practical Guide for Anyone Creating or Designing Applications or Software.

After a brief intro of good news vs bad news, he summarizes the Old (Hostess) Method and the New (Sushi) Method, about which he writes:

“These newer techniques require that everyone acknowledge the inherent uncertainty in creating a new product or market. Weaning yourself and everyone else off that sugary diet of fake certainties presents a challenge. Now you’re expecting me to say something like ‘challenge == opportunity’? Actually, what I think you should do is present a clear, actionable alternative. You should also make sure you have bite-sized starting points so you can hit doubles and make friends.”

His summary of the six ideas — aka Freelancing Products — is:

  1. Business Model Canvas: Sketch out the client’s business using the canvas. Identify the key linkages, strategic pivots, and, if applicable next steps.
  2. Personas & Problem Scenarios: Set the client up to ‘get outside the building’ and figure out who’s really using their product and why.
  3. User Stories: With the above as an input, make explicit the individual assumptions about what the user wants to do and how to make it happen with the product.
  4. Lean Strategy Management- Design: Lay out the client’s pivotal assumptions paired with an initial take on experimental design/means of vaildation.
  5. Lean Strategy Management- Maintenance: Set up checkpoints and workshops to shepherd implementation of the above.
  6. Lean Strategy Management- Financial Plan: Put together a working set of financials for the above.

For more information, read his intro to Product Development for the Non-Engineer and view his two videos about New Product Improv.

In general, Cowan has great resources for Product Managers and Developers on his website, including video and presentation slides. It’s clear he really cares to help others be successful at product development. This is refreshing since most folks in his position really want to sell their own consulting services so they generally don’t provide quite so much helpful content online. Cowan is quite generous.


I have a friend who has added me to her personal email list on which she promotes the activities of her worthy local nonprofit organization. Mind you, she isn’t a volunteer, she is the executive director. The frequency of her email hasn’t been burdensome, however if I didn’t know her, I would take steps to remove myself from her list. (I’m already on a number of professional and personal lists, already receive too much email each day, bla bla bla.)

Unfortunately, my friend is not following the guidelines of the CAN-SPAM Act, so I can’t opt out without writing to her and asking directly, which feels a bit uncomfortable because I do appreciate the social and professional relationship I have with her. Another option would be to mark her email as junk/spam so that my email client does the filtering, but then I would miss the occasional non-nonprofit social conversation. That is what I do when I receive unsolicited email (spam) from strangers.

Today I reviewed the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. The law was instituted to cut down on unwanted and misleading email, however my main interest today was to learn how this law applies to NONPROFIT organizations.

According to this CAN-SPAM Act Rules for Nonprofits article by Joanne Fritz:

“Most of the rules that apply to commercial emails apply as well to nonprofits, especially if your organization sells merchandise or delivers commercial offers from corporate sponsors to your donors or members. Even if you do not fall into that category, CAN-SPAM rules comprise best practices for email for any organization.”

The important point for nonprofits is that the CAN-SPAM Act provides a guideline for email best practices, even if the nonprofit doesn’t legally fall into the CAN-SPAM requirement.

To be clear, here is what a nonprofit should do:

  • Provide a clear and conspicuous notice of the opportunity to opt-out. The notice must be in every email message and must be provided to all individuals receiving the message whether or not they have opted-in to receive commercial email offers.
  • Provide a functioning opt-out in every email message, such as a return email address or other Internet-based function. Do not send subsequent offers more than 10 business days after a recipient has requested to not receive further emails. If the recipient has opted-out, the sender may not rent, exchange or otherwise transfer or release the email address of the recipient.
  • Provide a valid physical postal address of the sender.
  • If there is a commercial advertisement in your email, you must be clear that the email is an advertisement to individuals who have not opted-in to receive commercial email messages. If you have an in-house list, or rent a list of individuals who have opted-in to receive commercial email offers, you are exempt from the use of words such as “advertisement” or “solicitation” to label the message.
  • If there is a commercial advertisement in your email, and if you are sending an offer to individuals who have not opted-in to receive commercial email offers, you must make it clear that the message is a promotion, advertisement, or offer. Use phrases such as “you might be especially interested in this offer” in the body copy of the email.
  • Provide a “from” line that accurately and clearly indicates the sender. Doing so provides reassurance to supporters and donors that the email is from a trusted organization.
  • Use a subject line that is not misleading as to what is contained in the email.

For the full article containing this helpful summary of recommendations for email best practices for nonprofit organizations, see:

Sara Isenberg
Sara Isenberg Web Consulting & Project Management



[updated 12/31/14]

Are you a book author? I’ve worked with a variety of book authors over the years. Fortunately they know how to write. However, they’re not always familiar with the ways that social media and blogging can help them promote their book.

Here are some informative links that have been sitting in my inbox with resources specifically for book authors.

  • 101 Ways to Blog as a Book Author:  Not sure what to blog about? This article is contains a list of ideas to get you started. Not just for book authors, by the way.
  • From Blogging Authors: Here are some suggestions on how to quickly evaluate and improve your book author website.

Additional resources added 12/9/13:

Additional resources added 12/31/14:

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