How To Save Your Startup From The “Spotlight Effect”

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Max Ogles, a writer and entrepreneur based in Utah. Connect with him on Twitter at @maxogles.

Spotlight Effect

In the beginning of 2010, when daily deals site Groupon was really hitting its stride and copycat businesses were popping up left and right, a small startup called Yipit was just getting off the ground. Yipit was involved in daily deals, too, but rather than creating the deals itself, Yipit simply aggregated the deals offered by the other companies to offer a nice tidy list in a daily email.

Like any startup, the Yipit team planned PR and marketing around their launch and hoped that the buzz would yield a nice base of users,

Bible App: Getting 100 Million Downloads is More Psychology Than Miracles

Nir’s Note: An edited version of this essay appeared in The Atlantic. Below is my original.
Bible app notification

It’s not often an app has the power to keep someone out of a strip club. But according to Bobby Gruenewald, CEO of YouVersion, that’s exactly what his Bible app did. Gruenewald says a user of his app walked into a business of ill repute when suddenly, out of the heavens, he received a notification on his phone. “God’s trying to tell me something!,” Gruenewald recalled the user saying, “I just walked into a strip club — and man — the Bible just texted me!”

YouVersion recently announced its Bible app hit a monumental milestone — placing it among a rare strata of technology companies.

Why Behavior Change Apps Fail to Change Behavior

5318665531_b62722f817Imagine walking into a busy mall when someone approaches you with an open hand. “Would you have some coins to take the bus, please?” he asks. But in this case, the person is not a panhandler. The beggar is a PhD.

As part of a French study, researchers wanted to know if they could influence how much money people handed to a total stranger using just a few specially encoded words. They discovered a technique so simple and effective

How to Boost Desire Using the Psychology of Scarcity

Cookie jar study demonstrates psychology of scarcity
Interested in boosting customer desire? A classic study that demonstrates the psychology of scarcity reveals an interesting quirk of human behavior that may hold a clue.

In 1975, researchers Worchel, Lee, and Adewole wanted to know how people would value cookies in two identical glass jars. One jar held ten cookies while the other contained just two stragglers. Which cookies would people value more?

Though the cookies and jars were identical, participants valued the ones in the near-empty jar more highly. Scarcity had somehow affected their perception of value.

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