Tungle.me and SEO ... and virality

As an Angel Investor I work out of whatever place I'm at. Since I've been spending some time marketing myself I get a lot of meeting requests. Some of these are scheduled externally, and we often use the absolutely wonderful, free tool called Doodle (http://www.doodle.com). But while Doodle is great at finding a common time for a bunch of people to get together, it does not solve the problem I face weekly.

I have a bunch of folks looking to meet with me, and I have limited open slots in my schedule. If I send an email to Wilma, for example, saying that we can meet either Tuesday or Wednesday, I feel badly sending those same two times to Barney before I've heard back from Wilma. So it makes scheduling a sequential rather than parallel process.

I had thought this was a solved problem, and even had that tickle in the back of my mind that I'd read about it somewhere, but could not dredge it up. So off to Google. I searched all the terms and phrases I could come up with and did find a few sites that did some of what I was seeking, including one that was pretty close called youcanbook.me. But on further investigation it had limitations that made it unusable: First, people could actually book me, and there was no negotiation, totally unacceptable. Second, the open times could not be limited beyond bookings in my Google calendar, while I wanted to be able to specify office hours. This is a "nice to have", but given the first problem I decided that if it did not exist, I would have to build it.

So this morning I met with a tame young programmer looking for some interesting work in the way of a "Lean Startup". This sounded like it fit the bill; he could build a bare-bones version, we'd see if anyone came, and we'd figure out how to split the company. At our meeting the first thing he says to me is that he thinks it's been done: http://tungle.me. Indeed, after looking into it a bit more, it does seem to solve both problems completely and reasonably smoothly.

But that brings me to two other points of this post. Tungle.me is now owned by  Blaskberry (RIM). This is a big company with plenty of marketing budget. Why is Tungle's SEO (and SEM) so bad that a reasonably sophisticated Google user could not find it even when looking for it? I mean, a spent most of an hour searching for tools that do exactly what Tungle is supposed to, even looking at and sometimes clicking through sponsored links. You would think that one of these searches would have revealed it to me. Nope. You just have to wonder whether all of RIM's marketing is equally terrible. Maybe that's a small part of why they're in trouble?

The other point is regarding my old favorite tool, Doodle. This started out as a classic Minimum Viable Product (MVP) when it was at the web site www.doodle.ch (yes, out of Switzerland). They now have a much bigger web presence (.com!) and enhanced product (with user accounts and calendar linkages and all). How did they arrive there? They have an inherently viral product. If I invite Wilma and Barney to fill out a Doodle poll for a meeting, guess, what, they now know about the tool and are odds on to use it with their colleagues to schedule their next meeting, and so on. An thus grows a user base.

Too many start-ups that I work with claim that their product is viral, but they fail to understand the difference between inherently viral, like Doodle (or Facebook), and extrinsically viral (or really not viral). In the latter case they can add incentives for people to tell their friends, etc, but the product itself is not viral. I repeatedly see personal productivity applications positioned as viral, and usually they're not. 

Hey, while I'm on pet peeves, don't get me started on company pitches that use the phrase "perfect storm"....

Copyright 1997-2017, Ben Littauer