Archive for May, 2006

Pssst! Spread the word

May 28, 2006

We launched just a hair over four months ago. It's been thrilling to see how, in that short time, so many people have made BillMonk a part of their daily lives and use the heck out of the service.

While growth has been healthy, we'd like to take it to the next level and spread the word far and wide. We hear time and again that, once you learn that BillMonk exists to solve that irksome problem of borrowing-with-friends, you are instantly hooked. The trick is just learning that BillMonk exists.

While we do our best to contact schools and journalists, the best way to get the word out is through you, the user. You guys have already done a great job of spreading the service virally by adding your friends, for which we are deeply grateful. Some other ways to get the word out and show your support include:

  • Talk about us with friends, family, and random strangers
  • Put a library badge on your MySpace page, AIM profile, blog, or web page
  • Blog about us
  • Print out a flier and post it on your dorm room door, office bulletin board, coffee shop, you name it
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Money flier (PDF) Library flier (PDF)
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Share your library on MySpace, your blog, anywhere

May 18, 2006

You can now make your BillMonk library public for anyone to see. We give you:

  • A URL to your public library page, which anyone can use to view your collection
  • A badge showing a random sampling of your things. We give you the HTML code you need to paste into your MySpace page, blog, or website. We take care of periodically refreshing your badge.

To make your library public, just log in, click on the "library" tab, and then click on "show to everyone".

We hope you enjoy this new way of letting your friends know more about your interests! Check out BillMonk's MySpace page to see it in action.

myspace_badge.jpg

Serious power outage, BillMonk down

May 16, 2006

We're sorry to report that BillMonk will be down for the next few hours due to a serious power outage in our area. According to estimates from Seattle City Light, we won't be back up until 7pm PST. The apparent cause of the failure is a faulty transformer.

We apologize for this inconvenience and will be back up as soon as the power returns.

[Update 3:20pm]

We're back up, using a generator. Whew!

We're going to move our servers to a colocation facility soon. This is something that we had planned to do later this summer when we needed to scale, but will move this up in the schedule to improve service reliability. Once again, we apologize for the downtime.

Good morning, New York!

May 11, 2006

Tim Chan and Farnoosh Torabi of amNewYork, a daily morning New York City newspaper, addressed the tricky topic of Loaning Money to Friends and Family, citing us both as a source of insight and a solution (May 10, 2006). It's always great to be in print! We're excited by the resulting influx of New Yorkers, and would be delighted to hear from you about how to make BillMonk thrive in New York's unique urban environment. (Reprinted in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Chuck v2.0

May 10, 2006

The web isn't the only thing changing versions these days. Here at BillMonk, we're staying on top of the trends by evolving ourselves as well. Chuck is leading the charge with a dramatic change: he has shed his winter beard, and is now sporting a snappy spring-time look! This new youthful and aero-dynamic visage helps Chuck run faster, get student discounts at the movies, and look hotter to the ladies.

But rest assured, we didn't make such a big decision without trying out a few iterations first. Below are a few snapshots of the evolution from hairy, to hairless. What our users think of this new change is important to us, so please do let us know which model is your favorite. I'm sure Chuck will be more than happy to oblige next year. 🙂

(Thanks to Lisa for these photos.)

chuck-beard.jpgchuck-handlebar-moustache.jpgchuck-moustache.jpgchuck-clean-shaven.jpg

Polishing up the ‘ol library

May 4, 2006

Things are going swimmingly with the new library. We crossed the 1000 item mark in no time at all, and there's a whole lot of sharing going on.

Several of you wrote in with great ideas. With this feedback in mind, we have spiffed up the library:

  • You now control whether or not checking out/in an item should email the other person
  • You can add comments to checked-out items, e.g. "it's in the mail"
  • There is a now a default preference "share my library with all friends" that includes any new friends who come along (see Library: Share with Friends)

MindCamp – geeks, bloggers, and a lot of food

May 1, 2006

We had a lot of fun at Seattle MindCamp this weekend. We were a bit apprehensive about the craziness of a 24-hour unstructured gathering of 200+ geeks and bloggers, but it worked out really well. If you put a good-sized group of smart people together, interesting things always happen.

The attenders included other Seattle-area web startups like PixPulse; bloggers; folks from big companies like Microsoft, Amazon, O'Reilly, and Boeing; hackers (DefCon types); professors; students; robotics enthusiasts; and (for lack of a better term) the Burning Man technology-art-society types. All told, a good mix of biz, tech, play, and art.

Our session on "BillMonk: starting your own company" was very well attended. Folks liked the BillMonk idea and gave us lots of ideas for growth. The best part was the free-form discussion that followed, in which people discussed things like: when do you quit your job? is it a good idea to talk with venture capitalists? how much should you worry about talking with lawyers? how and when to worry about the technical aspects of scaling?

Finally… the food. Wow. Lots and lots of food lovingly prepared by staff in white shirts and black ties. The advantage of corporate sponsorship!