Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top Free CRM with Document Management – Bitrix24 Review

In my opinion the best CRM with document management is Bitrix24. That is, if you want something free or very inexpensive - Bitrix24 is free for 12 users or $99/mo for unlimited users, while SalesForce full document management options will cost you around $260 per user per month, which comes to over three grand a year per person who needs CRM with document management. Before I go into detailed review, there’s a lot of confusion about what document management is when it comes to CRM. Some CRM vendors say they have document management, because they offer integration with Google Docs or Dropbox. Some, because you can host and share files inside CRM. Some, because their CRM issues invoices.  So let’s look how Bitrix24 handles document management, because I believe this is what document management inside CRM should look like.

First thing I love about Bitrix24 is that you are given two options - use (free) online cloud document management service or host it on your own server (the self-hosted version of Bitrix24 comes with API and source code). I’ve heard anecdotes that after the Snowden scandal some German companies stop working with vendors who store their data in American cloud. But there are other reasons why having an option to migrate from cloud to your own server any time you want is a good idea, especially when it comes to document management. For example, Salesforce recently shut down, which is or rather was cloud only. clients are now forced to move to other solutions, even if they were 100% happy with Do. Second, if you pay for cloud service, you are forced to do it every month, while self-hosted solutions are typically come with one lifetime payment (updates might cost extra). Finally, when you store data on your server – you control it 100%.

Second thing I love about Bitrix24 document management is version history (aka version control) for documents. This is very important in every system that has online multiuser editing. As more and more people change the document, you want to make sure you can always roll back, especially since it’s not uncommon to delete entire document or replace text with nothing. Network Drive Mapping is another essential feature that doesn’t typically show up in CRM systems with doc management. It means that you can map a single document library or all of your document libraries to a network drive on your local machine literally in 2 clicks using WebDav, so  whether you use Windows, Mac OS, or Linux, you will be able to see the documents in the CRM or intranet locally through your file manager.
Thing like document sharing, private and public documents, giving download links for non-employees (including password protected or time restricted) are rather basic and common, so I am not going to go into details here, but it’s all there. And if you’ve worked with Dropbox – you’ll have no problems working with Bitrix24.Drive, because that’s exactly what it is – free Dropbox alternative for working with your CRM documents. Records management, on the other hand, is worthy of explaining.
If you’ve worked with SharePoint, records management is the same thing as lists. These help you manage record-based data directly in the front end. Suppliers' directories, product catalogs, expense items, and so on. If your sales reps are frequently traveling and have to file reports and expenses for each trip or you want to keep a list of all documents that are associated with a client (not just invoices, but contracts, proposals, drafts and so on) – Bitrix24 records management is excellent for that.
Business process that work with CRM and documents in Bitrix24 are also very cool (in other CRM systems this is oftentimes called workflow management). You can use them to automatically assign leads based on where they come from or the deal amount. Business processes can be used for document approvals – for example, each proposal is sent to supervisor for approval first. Another scenario is when a deal has reached a certain stage in a CRM it automatically creates a task for another employee – create a contract draft (for your counsel) or create purchase order (accounting) or start/stop sending emails to the prospect because certain rule has been triggered (more about total email management in Bitrix24 CRM here).
One last thing that makes Bitrix24 supercool is that it comes with a free mobile CRM that lets you access files as well. Mobile document management in Bitrix24 mobile app is not identical to the cloud or self-hosted editions. For example, you can issue and send invoices from your mobile or iPad, and you can view documents, but multiuser editing on mobile devices is absent.
Overall Bitrix24 is a very impressive free CRM. While I only mentioned working with documents, Bitrix24 also has CRM activity stream, project management, video conferencing, HelpDesk and HR tools. Not all things run smoothly and some features can be quite confusing, but if you want CRM that works with documents seamlessly, you absolutely should give Bitrix24 a try.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Barstool Sports - Sexism Is Profitable

Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing

David Portnoy's Barstool Sports is the bible of bro culture. Rude, crude, sexist and often mean-spirited--even Howard Stern has complaints--the site has become a go-to for young men who say they are disenfranchised by the mainstream media. With legions of fans, Barstool is expanding its original content offerings and even eyeing a move into broadcasting. Is this take-no-prisoners style of entertainment the future? And can Portnoy continue to cash in on controversy?

The natives are growing restless. "We want Pres!" they chant. "We want Pres!"

Barstool Sports' Blackout electronic dance music party is approaching critical mass, but the site's founder, David Portnoy--the self-appointed El Presidente, aka The Mogul, aka Davey Pageviews--is unfazed by the controlled chaos erupting around him. Ignoring the entreaties of the capacity crowd assembled here at Boston's House of Blues, Portnoy sits inside the club's greenroom hunched over a borrowed laptop, his attention focused on blogging photos of a shirt-less fat guy in a Lucha Libre wrestling mask and cape, captured just moments ago at that night's Boston Red Sox/Baltimore Orioles game and sent in by a member of Barstool's rabid fan base.

An hour later, it's showtime. Several junior members of the Barstool staff squeeze into ill-fitting, sweat-encrusted Smurfs and Star Wars costumes, arming themselves with confetti cannons, fire extinguishers and other tools of the Blackout trade. When they begin dancing and cavorting across the black-light-illuminated stage, the audience--teens and twentysomethings uniformly decked out in neon tank tops, surfer shorts and flip-flops--explodes in appreciation, uncorking the kinds of shrieks and shouts typically reserved for rock stars, not bloggers and interns.

Portnoy surveys the spectacle from offstage, then returns to the greenroom. The Blackout audience may want Pres, but it isn't going to get him tonight. "I don't even want to be here," he grumbles. "I should be at home catching up on The Newsroom with a bowl of popcorn in my lap." Instead he goes home and bangs out another blog, this one posted to the site just after 1 a.m.

Portnoy is a man who does what he wants, when he wants, and his haters-gonna-hate attitude, tireless work ethic and uncanny understanding of the elusive 18- to 35-year-old male demographic have built Barstool Sports from a weekly sports-betting-theme print publication distributed for free at Boston transit stops to a digital multimedia juggernaut: a wide-ranging, unabashedly profane men's lifestyle blog bolstered by flourishing live events and merchandise businesses. A much-imitated, never-duplicated resource for the latest on sports, entertainment and women--the tent poles of the dude zeitgeist--the site is must-reading for a growing legion of high-profile male athletes and sports-media personalities, many of whom have appeared on the Barstool-produced online video series "The Bro Show" and podcast "KFC Radio," hosted by blogger Kevin Clancy, who heads Barstool's New York City efforts.

"If you polled all the players in the [National Hockey League], I'd say 25 percent of them read Barstool," says San Jose Sharks all-star center Logan Couture, a "KFC Radio" guest in February. "I started reading it about five years ago. It made me laugh, and I've been reading it ever since."

[Via -]

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Best Free Basecamp Alternative (Bitrix24 Review)

When people talk about Basecamp, they tend to either love it or hate it. I am not going to go into holywars here, but let’s just say that if you fall into unhappy category or want some of the same but free  - there is no shortage of Basecamp competitors and there are a lot of solutions to choose from. The two most popular FREE Basecamp alternatives are Bitrix24 and Asana. Let’s look at Bitrix24 here, because in my opinion it’s the best alternative on the market, far superior to Asana on several grounds.

Price – the fully featured Bitrix24 is free for 12 users. If you want to have unlimited users – that’s $99 a month.

Platform – cloud and self-hosted versions are available. The self-hosted version (i.e. the one that you host on your own server) comes with API and source code, so you can modify it as you please and integrate with other tools.

Migration from Basecamp – easy, special free migration app is available through Bitrix24 marketplace (must log into your Bitrix24 account to access it).

PM features – more or less identical to Basecamp. Tasks, subtasks (nested tasks), recurring tasks, project management, Gantt charts, mobile app, Employee Workload Planning (allocating time for specific tasks and seeing if time allowed is exceeded or not to control your labor costs), time tracking, time management, check lists, reports, workgroups, working with external users (extranet).

Workflow management (business processes) and records management – yes.

DocManagement – yes. Private and shared documents, document sharing outside your network, versioning for documents (version history), online document editing without MS Office, collaboration,  network drive mapping, Bitrix24.Drive (essentially free Dropbox alternative for your company). Integrations with Google Docs, MS Office, Office 365, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc.

Communications – intranet (activity stream), enterprise social networking, instant messaging, group chat, mobile enterprise messaging, videochat, videoconferencing, web phone.

CRM – yes, fully featured, integrated with project management and doc management.

Other features worth mentioning – HR tools, built-in HelpDesk, eLearning module, email connectors.

Bitrix24 is best Basecamp alternative when:

-    Your team is under 12 users and you want something that very powerful yet 100% free
-    You want to host Basecamp type solution on your own server and pay only once for it
-    You need project management solution that’s integrated with other business tools you are using (like CRM, intranet or document management, for example)
-    You want access to source code.

Like I said there are quite a few tools that can replace Basecamp, so stay tuned for reviews of other Basecamp alternatives.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Wacky Business Ideas - Turning Guns Into Jewelry

 Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing
The New York-based startup, which Thum launched with his wife in June, has a specific mission: take guns and bullets off the street and turn them into beautiful pieces of jewelry.

So far, the company has collected over 1,000 guns from law enforcement agencies in Philadelphia, Newburgh, N.Y., and Syracuse, N.Y. Thum said he picked those three cities because of their high rate of gun violence. Eventually, he hopes to partner with cities nationwide.

In each of those cities, Liberty United also works closely with the mayor's office.

"We've had a terrific relationship with the cities and their police departments right from the beginning," said Thum.

Typically, after law enforcement agencies confiscate illegal weapons, they catalog and destroy them. Liberty United takes the guns after they've been cataloged and sends them to a blacksmith who disassembles and smelts them. Liberty United collects the scrap metal and artists use it to make the jewelry.

Thum said a portion of the jewelry's sales help fund programs to reduce gun violence and to support its victims.

It's an area Thum is very familiar with. In 2009, he started Fonderie 47, which collects AK 47 assault rifles from conflict zones in Africa and uses the metal to make jewelry and other accessories. Each sale helps fund the destruction of assault rifles in Africa, said Thum. He estimated that 34,000 weapons have been destroyed in Congo and Burundi as a result of Fonderie 47.

For its first collection, Liberty United partnered with jewelry designer Philip Crangi, who created railroad spike-inspired rings, bracelets and necklaces priced between $85 and $1,400. Liberty United profits from these sales, but donates 25% to programs like the Mural Arts program in Philadelphia, which offers art education in local prisons and rehabilitation centers. The company will also donate a portion of the profits to similar programs in Syracuse and Newburgh.

The recycled metal from the guns went to producing thousands of handmade pieces for the collection, which is still available online. Each piece has a serial number inscribed in it of a gun that Liberty United reclaimed.
Liberty United is now collaborating with designer Pamela Love on a similarly priced collection that launched in November and includes necklaces and cuffs with semi-precious stones.

Thum is well-versed in social entrepreneurship. In addition to Fonderie 47, he founded Ethos Water in 2002, which funds water and sanitation projects in developing countries. Three years later, he sold the company to Starbucks for $7.7 million.

It was during business trips to Africa with Ethos that he first got the idea for Fonderie 47.

"I would be stopped at roadblocks by 12-year-old boys armed with rifles," he said. "I realized then that we couldn't make meaningful progress with our other projects in Africa until we also did something about this."
Gun violence, both in Africa's war zones and on the streets of America, is a problem that can't be ignored, he said.

"We wanted to use what we had learned and achieved through Fonderie 47 to build an effort to reduce gun violence here at home," said Thum.

[Via - CNNMoney]

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Sunday, December 01, 2013

Cookbooks - the future of publishing?

 Crazy Startup Of The Day -

The bells have been tolling for hardback books for years, but for cookbooks--suffering from the proliferation of online recipe databases--it has been more of a clanging gong. In fact, in June 2012, webzine Slate declared the "impending extinction" of cookbooks.

Not so fast. The smart set has turned out to be publishers who bet that the generation that expects everything for free online would pay top dollar to learn how to make dinner special. "Young people are excited about being involved in food," says Daniel Halpern, co-founder of Ecco, which recently launched a food imprint run by chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain.

The demand reflects a broadening of our food culture, spurred by the rise of food TV. "There is passion, interest, energy," Halpern says. "I've been doing this since the 1970s. This is not a fad. People have to eat, and now they want to eat well."

It took discerning consumers a few years of swimming through the ocean of mediocre-to-bad online recipes before they became frustrated with "free," according to Bill LeBlond, editorial director of food and drink at independent publisher Chronicle Books. Now they are eagerly snapping up well-curated, smartly illustrated recipe collections by celebrated chefs, food innovators and a handful of popular young bloggers. Among the hottest topics are vegetables and the Paleo Diet.

The big news is what is happening at the top of the hardback-cookbook market.

Cookbooks have become "objects of desire," says Aaron Wehner, publisher of Ten Speed Press, an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group/Penguin Random House, and a leader in the cookbook revival. The more beautiful the book, the better the sales. "Our approach is to lavish attention on the visual," Wehner says. "We are investing more in the photography, design and finish of our books."

Ten Speed has been on a roll for a decade, but the "last two or three years have been super strong," he says. Without providing numbers, Chronicle claims 2013 is one of its best years ever for cookbook sales.

Indeed, at press time, 14 of the year's 25 bestselling cookbooks were hardbacks priced at $20 or higher that sold more than 30,000 copies each, according to Nielsen BookScan. This year's bestseller, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten ($35; Clarkson Potter/Random House), had topped sales of 132,000 at press time.

Paperback cookbooks with spare illustrations are not faring as well as the unapologetically sophisticated hardcover tomes. Wiley, once a leader in paperback cookbooks, stopped publishing them last year, leaving more room for the highbrow Ecco imprint. Other publishers have cut back their cookbook releases dramatically.

Elissa Altman, editor-at-large for cookbooks at health and wellness publisher Rodale Books, says she has listened for some time to the gnashing of teeth over and the proliferation of food bloggers but "never bought it. Things were changing, not dying." With the internet providing a steady stream of attractive everyday food fare, the bottom dropped out of the market for mundane books. And that wasn't a bad thing, Altman says--it forced book publishers who want to stay in business to "step up to the plate."

Gradually, publishers have realized that there are new opportunities in cookbooks and food books in general.

"We have become a food-focused culture. The smallest town in Kentucky has a new cafe serving local food to food groupies," Altman says. "It is an absolutely bigger audience that is getting bigger and bigger."

[Via - Enterpreneur]

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