Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My link to Steve Jobs: Connecting the Dots to Wikets

After Steve Jobs passed away, like so many other people I listened to his famous Stanford commencement address. Something he said resonated with me, "Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

Ever since I started blogging I've wondered on more than one occasion why exactly I was blogging. At first it was to record my life and times as a SAHM but then it seemed to take on a life of its own. When I started, one of my good mommy friends who was also a blogger told me that the LA Moms Blog was looking for writers at the time. Once I joined the SV Moms syndicate (now a part of Technorati), I was invited to all sorts of blogger events. The boys and I had great fun at these events; I met a lot of fabulous women and learned about the blogging world. But my motivation in blogging? It wasn't to become the next Dooce or STLMommy or Momfluential. I had no ambition to crush the world of mommy blogging. It was an education, but to what end? And then this past August, a couple of days after BlogHer, it all sort of came together.

One of my best friends told me her husband was launching an iPhone app and he needed someone to work with him to reach out to women bloggers. I told him that I wasn't an expert by a long shot, that I only knew just enough to call myself a blogger without embarrassment. I heard his pitch and the app seemed interesting. Even though this man had driven me to the hospital when I was in labor with R, that alone would not have been enough to convince me if I didn't see value in the project. After all, I didn't spend all those years valuing companies for corporate M&A transactions for nothing. I took the plunge and signed on as a consultant to Wikets. It was only after I read the words from Steve Jobs' speech that I realized that the dots had connected. Since then (which in tech time seems like ages ago), I've been working on this project that launched last night at midnight. Of course, the connection to Steve Jobs is also made complete by the fact I'm working on an iOS app.

Wikets is the first social mobile commerce application designed to enable anyone with a mobile device to share their best recommendations for products and places with people they trust. For launch it has been designed for the iPhone (iPad users can also download it but will be using the iPhone interface), but it will become available to other platforms down the line. It's like Twitter in that there is a feed that shows a certain number of characters per rec. But unlike Twitter, that rec can expand out to a mini review that captures more of what someone has to say about a certain product or place. Also unlike Twitter, Wikets is designed to be about your social community; you follow only the people whose recs you trust.

What made it compelling for me was that I would have my friends available to me at all times via their recs. How many of us have wondered what a friend would recommend for something at the very last minute? Like you land in Austin or you're at Best Buy and you want your friend Corey to tell you where to eat or what computer to buy and the timing doesn't make sense for you to call/text/email/FB Corey. Well, if you and Corey are both on Wikets, you can just look up Corey's recs! A couple of weeks ago, I had to buy a present for Stewart's niece who was turning 7. It was near midnight, when I do all my shopping online, and I thought, I wish I could ask Nellie, my friend with the 7 year old daughter, what she would recommend. Of course, she lives on the East Coast so it was 3 AM her time and there was no way for me to ask her since I had to buy the present at that moment in order for it to get to Stewart's niece on time. If I could have found her recs on Wikets, that would have been perfect!

What makes this app so great for busy moms is that you can store all your favorite things in one place. Unlike some of the other apps that have recently launched, it's not about rating the most delicious dishes on the planet or finding the most beautiful things on the internet and getting someone to notice that you found something extraordinary. Wikets is a way for us to share our favorite kid-friendly places, doctors, toys, books, music, snacks, and anything else with each other to make our lives easier and better. For the product recs, it even comes with the ability to buy those exact things through our phones to save us time. So if someone finds a great deal on diapers on Amazon and recs it, you can buy through the app and get it right then instead of going to your desktop or going to Amazon through your phone's web browser.

And, wait for it, the best part of the app is that you get something out of it every time you use it! Making a rec and re-recing/wishlisting someone's rec come with points. One point for each action. Then if someone buys through your rec, you and that person get the amount of points for the sale price that the product. 2500 points = $25 gift card! So when you are playing the mom waiting game those times when your baby falls asleep in the car, you're outside the school to pick up the kids, or you're standing on the sidelines at soccer practice, you can make recs and get points that will ultimately get you something that you can use to buy something for yourself. I like it because it's something that's easy and fun that I can do in as many minutes as I have. I get to read my friends' recs and re-rec or wishlist if I'm not up for making recs myself, but if I have a little more time then I can make recs that are related to what I'm doing or not. I made this rec at the Grove last weekend because I saw the restaurant and remembered the great breakfast I had there, even though I wasn't eating there that day.

So if you are open to trying a great new app on your iPhone or iPad, use the promotional code "randommommy" for 200 bonus points when you sign up for Wikets. It's free and it's available at the app store right now. I will be blogging the rest of this week about more features of Wikets so come back to learn how to maximize the app and your points!

I was not compensated for this post. I am a consultant to Wikets as their blogger outreach manager but the opinions in my blog are my own.

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