Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Launching New Start Up - Social Rewards Where Loyalty Marketing meets Social Media

This month I will be launching a new start up. I guess as a serial entrepreneur its hard to not always be thinking about companies or a new way to do things. This new company was born out of a long term relationship I've had with my high school best friend, Tatsuo (Mike) Uesugi. Over 20 years ago, Mike and I attended Western Christian High School in Covina, CA and even though he spoke little English at the time, we became fast friends as I sat behind him in English class during our Sophomore year. We eventually became roommates after high school and Mike went on to fame working at both Apple and IBM, helping Apple design the first Japanese language KanjiTalk OS for the Mac.

I went in another direction, becoming a private investigator and starting my own detective agency but enjoying the tech sector, the start up process and then running my own tech companies. Eventually the start up bug hit Mike and he founded Global Micro Solutions, doing integration work for just about every Japanese company doing business here in the US and growing to over 50 employees in 5 countries. Last year, Mike approached me with an idea regarding merging affiliate marketing with social media and I was hooked joining him as an advisor on building out a back end for a yet unnamed company. I was exiting my last business - Storybids, had stopped SEO consulting and had just taken on a stint as VP of Search and Social Marketing for - a new Travel meta search engine which was funded entirely by Travelzoo (NASDAQ: TZOO) but the entrepreneurial bug wouldn't stop biting me.

I left last month and joined Mike full time as CEO and Co-Founder at the now named Social Rewards, Inc. which we have built into social media based loyalty marketing programs that reward consumers with a brand's own loyalty program points for engaging in social media activity such as brand mentions via Twitter, Foursquare check-ins and Facebook likes and fan activity.

This grew out of our own simple desires to be rewarded with loyalty points for tweeting about brands that we already loved, we are both extreme travelers, he a Diamond Level at Japan Airlines and myself as an Executive Platinum with American Airlines, a Silver Premier with US Airways, a Starwood Platinum and Fairmont Silver President's Club member. I've also become enamored with both jetBlue and Virgin America since US Airways pulled out of John Wayne airport for flights to Las Vegas and AA stopped going to the San Francisco Bay area.

I had become familiar with the social media benefits of rewarding influential online consumers with products via the 'Blogger's Night Out' promotion that I did during the PubCon Internet Marketing Conference in 2007 where we gave away 500 tickets to major Las Vegas shows such as Spamalot, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil. It was a huge success and evolved into Tweet4Tix that I continued to run during BlogWorld and Pubcon conferences over the last three years. The hard part was coming up with a business model on how to reward consumers for blogging and then ultimately tweeting activity and for three years I met with brands and partners and pondered the logistics of first theatre tickets and then movie tickets online for rewarding online brand mentions.

Early last year I stumbled upon a little start up called Klout that was barely 4 months old and just getting ramped up. I emailed their CEO, Joe Fernandez and after a few meetings, he and his Co-Founder Binh Tranh figured that I could do what I said I could do and started the process of opening a lot of doors for them both from clients to investors as an official member of the Klout Advisory Board. Eventually I began to see how both Mike's software for affiliate marketing via social media and how Klout's online influencer analytical tools could be merged into the business model that I had been pondering for three years with the Tweet4Tix concept. Now we could identify influential online consumers using Klout and reward them for brand mentions using Mike's nearly completed back end CMS with the most obvious choice of online currency - loyalty program points. Social Rewards was born.

Now with our software finalized and ready to go, we launch this month, please wish us luck. ;)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

*OFFICIAL* Blog World Expo Party, Tweetup & Events Schedule

The time is now upon us as we gather for the 3rd annual Blog World Expo and the 2009 conference has grown by leaps and bounds and this year's Las Vegas nightlife is no different. This year we bring you not only a solid conference and exhibition hall bigger and better than ever before but a party schedule that even the most hard charging party reveler will blink at. Keep checking back here as well, because I will be updating this post with new information and late breaking news as we add other events and get more information on these events. We present to you - your evening festivities:

Be sure to RSVP!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 & @LasVegasHilton Tweetup

Time: 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Location: Tempo Lounge (inside The Las Vegas Hilton)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

America's Got Talent Tweetup @ Planet Hollywood

Falls Mall Bar Tweetup

Techset and BlogWorld After Hours Party

Time: 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Location: The Bank (Inside Bellagio Hotel)

Friday, October 16, 2009

BlogWorld Opening Night Party

Time: 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Location: Jet Nightclub (inside Mirage Hotel)

TweetBash! @ Lavo @ Palazzo

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Las Vegas Hilton Poolside BBQ Tweetup

Grand Tweetup! at Studio 54

See everyone there!

TechKaraoke Shenanigans Tweetup

- Joseph Morin (Your BlogWorld Party Guide)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hosting BlogWorld / PubCon Las Vegas Tweetup

I'll be hosting a Tweetup in Las Vegas on August 26th at Koi @ Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (Mezzanine level by Strip House Steak House). Guests of honor will be Rick Calvert, CEO of Blog World Expo and Brett Tabke, CEO of PubCon. As an added treat Felipe Coimbra, the Founder of TwtApps and TwtVite will be in from Montreal and it's also my buddy Nick Raba's birthday.

We have availability for 50 and Koi will give out a free shot to those that mention they are following @phvegas on Twitter. There will also be 1/2 price drink and appetizer specials during the happy hour.

The event will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 so if you're in town (Las Vegas) come on down! RSVP on the TwtVite to the right (sidebar) and also be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Animated Short Film via Graffiti

This is the craziest short film project I have seen. The entire animation sequence is done via murals on outdoor and indoor walls in Buenos Aires.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Hummingbird mom and baby in nest at night

Hummingbirds in my front yard taken completely dark at night with Nikon Speedlight 900 flash by holding camera high over my head and guessing where to aim - complete luck with this photo!

Taken with Nikon D90, 18MM - 200MM VR Nikkor Lens, F/ 5.6, Exposure 1/60 sec., ISO 800

Friday, April 10, 2009

Start Up Tips #1: Picking the Right Domain Name

I'm always referencing this list when I do strategy consulting for Start Ups so I thought I'd repeat it here as both a tip and as a Friday Funny:

This list comes from Independent Sources:

1. A site called ‘Who Represents‘ where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

5. Then of course, there’s the Italian Power Generator company…

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:

7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always

8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is

9. Then, of course, there’s these brainless art designers, and their whacky website:

10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Optimism And Opportunity At SXSW

I strongly agree - the majority of people I know in digital media make things happen on their own and don't rely upon an employer to secure their future. Why worry about a job when you can work for shorts stints of time or work for three or four companies at once - all from home? It seems project based is the way to go from what I was observing at SXSW. I definitely didn't see signs of a recessions during the past week.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost