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They tell me I'm a creative sort, but why can't I come up with a scam like the one at http://www.allthepeopleoftheworld.com? Unbelievable! These guys are sitting on a cash cow - they stand to make, I figure, maybe five or six billion dollars by the time they're done! There goes another good idea out the window - I guess there can't be two sites on-line where everybody in the world pays a buck to be in "the directory."
So, it's back to my old, long-standing scam - I mean idea! I've been trying to get investors for my chain of low calorie pizza parlors for years now (hey, now that Ralph Kramden is out of the picture, that one's up for grabs). I've written proposals for investors, begged for money at banks, even put ads in newspapers.
I even hired a marketing person once; he told me pizza consumers were more interested in atmosphere than calorie count, and that I should market my idea with an emphasis on the pizza place's comfy, down home feeling - with a building design like a cabin, or a hut. But did I listen? Ha! The marketing person liked that one so much, though, he decided to use it himself. I think he actually made a go of it, last I heard.
But back to my dilemma. I've decided that there's only one way to get this idea off the ground: reaching the money people directly and give them my winning pitch. Imagine if I could somehow directly reach millions of people and hook - I mean convince - them that they should invest with me. There has to be at least a couple dozen people out there who think lo-cal pizza is a workable idea. A direct appeal to people who are smart enough to see a great investment opportunity is my best chance.
But how to reach them? That's just the problem, you see. A blanket e-mail barrage is an option, but not a very good one; people tend to get annoyed by spam, and there's so much of it nowadays. Makes it hard for a legitimate businessman like me to get noticed, unfortunately.
I have a better idea. If investors could just hear me out - if they could just listen to my voice and hear what a great idea lo-cal pizza really is, and how dedicated and sincere I am (and I ooze with sincerity, despite what my wife says), I know I could capture their hearts - and dollars! I was thinking of taking out a campaign of radio ads, but a better, cheaper (as in free!) idea came along.
The latest thing in Internet communication is, of course, the podcast. A podcast, for those who are not familiar with the concept, is sort of like a radio show without the radio station. You listen to podcasts on-line using streaming audio applications, like Apple's iTunes - which has a Windows version as well as a Mac one, and recently began supporting podcasts. You go to a site like the Podcast Directory (http://www.podcast.net) and either listen directly at the site or add the stream to your iTunes or other streaming audio application. Podcasts can be either one-shot deals or an ongoing series, so when you subscribe to a podcast in iTunes, for example, the program will check on-line and download the newest episode of whatever you are listening to automatically (the most recent iTunes' versions have their own directory of podcasts as well).
Podcasts are a great way to reach an audience, but until now they have been a bit more work to put together than I was interested in doing.
Setting up a podcast entailed using a recording program like Windows recorder - which saves audio files in WAV format - and then converting the file to an MP3, uploading it to a site, etc. While not too difficult, there is still a learning curve involved, and setting up a dedicated podcast to reach investors would have taken up time I could be dedicating to perfecting my lo-cal formula (yes, I personally sample every pie).
Which is why I was really glad to find Odeo (http://www.odeo.com). The mission of Odeo is to make podcasting as easy as e-mailing for the average (and above-average, like me) geek. When you sign up with Odeo, you get an account on their Web site and access to their ever-growing archives of podcasts submitted by members. Impressively, the Odeo people are interested not only in the technical performance, but in the content of their member sites, and a bunch of the staff take the time to recommend what they think are the most interesting podcasts.
However, the guts of Odeo is its recording capability. In the site's recording studio section, you can, with the click of a mouse, record and upload a podcast to the Odeo directory, where it will be available to potentially millions. The in-line software is a breeze to use - but to make it even easier, Odeo has a phone number (in San Francisco) that you can call up - and use to record a podcast over the phone (and yes, it's open to people from anywhere in the world). These folks deserve a medal for putting podcasting in the reach of anyone - and if I ever get lo-cal pizza off the ground, I promise to give them 10 percent of the take!
Odeo is free for anyone anywhere with a computer of any kind.