Posts Tagged ‘interview’

#037 — Interviewing The Creators Of moneyStrands

April 2nd, 2009


moneyStrands is the latest in the explosion of personal finance programs to hit the web.  Recently, I had a chance to have a virtual sit-down with Ryan Williams & Atakan Cetinsoy from the moneyStrands team to find out a little more about their newest product and the Strands business line.

Tell me a little bit about moneyStrands and how you came up with the concept?

Ryan: moneyStrands is an online money management application that lets you keep track of your money with ease, saving you time and perhaps money along the way.  moneyStrands lets you pull your data from many financial accounts, whether it’s a bank account, credit card, or loan, and brings everything together in one place.  Once the data is flowing in, automatically, you can take advantage of the many widgets that moneyStrands provides to allow you to build a completely customized financial dashboard.  We have a variety of tools — from alerts, budgeting, data visualization, reporting, and peer comparison features — along with personalized widgets that take advantage of Strands recommendation technology.  It’s a challenging time for many with our current economic conditions and I hope we can build something to help make people’s lives easier.

Atakan: Strands had the opportunity to work with BBVA in Spain, the 7th largest bank in the world based on market cap, to develop a new personal finance tool, Tú cuentas, for their online banking site and through this project, we were able to build a solution that we are now able to offer to the general public.

There are many budget & financial tracking websites popping up these days, such as Mint or Wesabe.  Do you see these sites as your competition, or does moneyStrands cater to its own niche market?

Ryan: It’s great to see the wave of innovation in this area of personal finance, and I think it speaks to the need that people have to make this process easier and more powerful.  It’s a competitive market and we certainly think we have a unique approach to solving this need.

Atakan: While covering the “must have” personal finance use cases, moneyStrands also is looking to add some measured element of fun.  We’d like to move away from the spreadsheet approach to money management to the extent possible.  We’d like to fill that void.

I’ve signed up for moneyStrands and honestly, I have been very impressed at its clean look, functionality, and usability by regular guys like me.  What do you like about your site that you feel is an improvement over other financial management websites?  What do you anticipate improving on the moneyStrands website?

Ryan: Thanks, we appreciate that!  The moneyStrands team is extremely talented and I too love to see what these guys can design and build.  We think we’ve developed a unique combination of financial tools, mobile access (iPhone app and mobile optimized websites), customization (with the widget based approach) and personalization that together offer a platform that offers users access to the information they need, and a platform to grow up with.

moneyStrands is only one aspect of the Strands brand.  Tell me about the other branches of the Strands brand.

Ryan: Strands was founded in 2003 with the core focus on social recommendation technologies that are brought to life in a number of different ways.  MyStrands is a powerful music recommendation site that let’s you share your music tastes and receive recommendations of other music you may like based on those tastes.  Our latest consumer site, provides a home for you to log training activities related to running, cycling and many other sports, allowing you to interact with other athletes (or geeks if you’re into the social media scene) to find similar people and discover new ideas for your training.  Watch that site for more soon!  Finally, our Strands Business Solutions group provides an easy way for e-commerce stores and content sites to provide recommendations to their customers for relevant products and articles that they find interesting.

What is the overall vision for the Strands brand?  Do you hope to merge or enter ventures with other online companies that would compliment your company’s vision?

Atakan: Strands believes in the concept of a personal web experience that we are only beginning to witness today.  This may perhaps be thought of as an intermediate step between today’s web and the semantic web concept of the future.  The crumbles of information about us users are out there and in many cases these are not being interpreted efficiently.  Strands’ vision is to collect, aggregate, and personalize the bits and pieces of our information preferences and needs in selected verticals while properly addressing privacy implications.  moneyStrands is a example of this in the personal finance space.

We are always looking for strategic partners that complement our strengths with strengths of their own.

Finally, I am always impressed with those that have a vision and go out into the real world and execute it.  Tell me a little bit about yourselves.

Atakan: My background is in software product marketing and integrated marketing analytics. Prior to joining Strands I spent 5 years at Apple setting up CRM systems and managing personalized marketing programs for their online sales channel as well as the iTunes store. I hold an MBA degree and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.  I am originally from Turkey.

Ryan: Thanks again.  I joined the moneyStrands team in the acquisition of NetworthIQ last year.  I had started NetworthIQ with some friends in 2005 after having always been a little too obsessive about my own personal finances and wanted to find a way to merge my interest in personal finance with my passion for web development.  I graduated from The University of Oregon and currently live in Portland, Oregon.  Feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@ryanwi).  I love to connect with members of the personal finance community.

Thanks to Ryan & Atakan for the interview. I’ll have a review of their website soon!


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#022 — Beyond the Paper: Creating a Video Resume

March 5th, 2009

I went to see a recruiter once, and after talking to him about employment opportunities, he told me their company creates a video of each applicant in their database that they would use as to supplement to your paper resume when connecting you with prospective employers.  In other words, a video resume, created to help you stand out from all the competition with mere words on paper displaying their qualifications.  So he opened up software that uses a webcam to record up to a 3 minute video, where I introduced myself and explained a little bit about the work that I would enjoy doing.

3 Tips when Creating a Video Resume

  1. Smile! This is your chance to show them that you can appear comfortable in their surroundings.  Show that you are personable, not dreary.
  2. Avoid “TV Announcer” voice. You don’t have to alter your voice to sound as if you’re the guy that does movie trailers.  Pretend like you’re having a conversation with someone and you will come across more genuine.  No voice posturing needed.
  3. Cheat Sheet. I wrote a few bullet points of what I wanted to say down on a piece of paper, folded it half, and hung it over the computer monitor right next to the webcam.  It helped me cut down on “umms” and “uuuhhhhs”, and allowed me to maintain eye contact with the camera, rather than looking away or down from the camera.
  4. Be Professional. You don’t have to act like a goofball just to prove you’re not a stick-in-the-mud.  Don’t end up like this guy.

Employer Reaction

Video resumes are still a relatively new venture.  Some worry about the legal aspects of viewing video resumes can lead to charges of racial or gender discrimination.  But overall, it seems as if employers are open to embracing and adapting to a new social, digital era.

Nearly two years ago, surveyed employers and found that while only 17% had seen a video resume, 89% were open to viewing one if submitted to them.

Career websites like CareerBuilder and Interview Studio, among others, offer video resumes as a part of their career search platform.  It also could provide the individual job seeker a way to showcase his presentation skills to particular employers.  More recently, a personal video resume has enabled one man to pursue his dream.

As with any new use of technology, just proceed creatively, yet cautiously.  Know your prospective targets and use video to play to their likes to maximize the greatest use of your electronic portfolio.

Have you ever used a video to supplement your resume?

Employers:  How do you feel about video resumes?

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photos by: SOCIALisBETTER

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