I’ll Be Unavailable This Week

I have designated this week as “tax week”. I’ll be updating all the accounting reports for the past 3 years and catching up on some tax filings, including 1099’s for 2012. Since we don’t yet have an accountant for the company,  this responsibility falls squarely on my shoulders. Yes, I know how to do it – and I am HOPING that by the end of this year, I’ll get to RETIRE from the accounting world!  This stuff is best left to the PROFESSIONAL bean counters, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, I’m always grateful I learned all the basics to run all aspects of an American business way back in my 20’s – that has saved the company untold tens of thousands of dollars in the past few years, because I haven’t had to hire outside help for so many functions that most companies farm out (HTML programming, accounting, tax preparation, high-end commercial selling, web design, graphic design & logo creation, and the list goes on).

I love what I do for a living and count my blessings each and every day that I have been privileged to create this company, which I am convinced is destined to join the ranks of the more successful online firms during the next 2 or 3 years.

So, now you know. I’ll be sequestered and won’t be answering the phone, checking email, and might not even post any blog articles from now until I complete the accounting work that really must be done by the last day of January.  (Don’t be surprised if I’m late. There’s a lot to do and precious little time in which to accomplish it all.)

I should re-surface next week. If you have an emergency, please email me directly, send me a message through our Contact Us page, or send me a text message. I’ll check them at least once each day this week.

Check back here next weekend for an update!  “Ciao For Now!”

New Merchant Account Approved

Great News! Today we were approved for a new Merchant Account!

As you know for the past 18 months most of our transactions have been processed through Paypal. We do have another merchant account but discontinued using it because of the high cost. Also, some of their policies were inconsistent with our needs.

For those of you who don’t already know this, qualifying for a merchant account to accept credit and debit cards is a credit transaction.  It’s not automatic. Each merchant who accepts cards must qualify with their bank or a payment processing company to accept Visa, Mastercard and the rest. So this is actually only the 2nd credit facility we have ever established. I’m proud to say that the company didn’t need any outside guarantees as we did in the past! Things are definitely improving for us.

Next Monday I’ll begin the process of creating a new shopping cart and integrating our ability to accept Mastercard and Visa directly through our website, instead of always requiring payment through Paypal.  Paypal will become an option in the near future. We rejected the offer to accept American Express simply due to the fact that there is virtually no demand for it. Since 2007, we had one transaction with an American Express card. But, we have paid for the “privilege of membership” with them every month since 2007. It’s ridiculous the amount of money we paid in the past 6 years to accept a card that we never need. We’ll start out by accepting only Mastercard, Visa and Diner’s Club cards. If we need to expand to eChecks (electronic eChecks – we already process our own eCheck paper drafts) I’ll let you know.

But in reality, this new merchant account is a major step forward and will cost us about half of the expense of our former merchant account.  Thanks to all of you who have helped our company become more stable in the past year and a half and get to the point where we can actually qualify for bank credit on our own now!

Newest Version of PRG Ready To Sell

This past week saw some very significant developments. The Port Referral Group is now approaching 3 years old. It was officially started in 2010. But we haven’t promoted it at all since mid-2011. Now it has been completely re-packaged, re-designed and it’s ready for prime time! The purpose and functions are identical. And all benefits for those original members are still in place and in fact, are enhanced beyond what they used to be (especially by the fee waivers for GroupCaller™ and VoiFone™ services).

As I have mentioned in the past, it appears our first major sales growth will occur outside the USA, starting in the Philippines. Although we sold many PRG memberships in the past, and have some active GroupCaller™ Clients, we have no current revenue on which to base our sustenance, except for small amounts received for reloading minutes from a few customers. I have never been too concerned about this because we really haven’t been fully prepared for a full-out marketing blitz. We’re still not completely ready, but we’re ready enough to take on thousands of new PRG members in a short time frame. So let the recruiting begin!

New PRG Description Page

Please take a look at the info page for the PRG. I updated some of the content this week. The description is much more concise than ever before, highlighting the 5 major benefits available to PRG members.  In short, PRG members enjoy FREE VoiFone™ subscriptions, access to the lowest wholesale per-minute fees (normally only available on the high-end license and subscriptions), waived GroupCaller™ license, full access to their own CRM account FREE OF CHARGE, direct access to “yours truly” with access to this private blog, beta tester designation and thus the ability to influence the development of our system, and of course, the profit sharing system that forms the core of this special membership.

I purposefully did NOT create a focused, obvious eye-catching link to this page because I don’t want to give people the mis-impression that this company is “all about” a money-making opportunity. We’r’e not – we’re a telecom firm devoted to creating this all-in-on communications system that’s integrated with CRM and other functions to provide a robust experience for all our users. You can find all the links to PRG information through the Affiliate menu item on most of the website pages.

New PRG Opportunity Video

During the past week I also created and published a 15-Minute slide show video to help all Associates and others who wish to promote the PRG to explain it to the people they know. Next week I expect to begin conducting live webinar presentations of the same slide show during which a Q & A session will be provided to attendees. This is a great opportunity for everyone interested in our business to get their questions answered from “the source” (me, of course!).  Be sure to take a look at it when you get the chance. This video should give you a good overview of the immediate income earning opportunity available to anyone who wants it.

PRG Is “ON SALE” For A Limited Time

New members are now able to join the PRG for as little as $27 a month subscription! Before this, the lowest fee in the past was $15 weekly (about $60/month) and many people paid the full $6,000 for a Platinum membership. So for anyone interested in the PRG, “this” is the right time to sign up, before this offer expires. (No, we haven’t yet set an expiration date for the promotional pricing).

11 Planned Applications

For those of you who have been with us for some time now, don’t worry, we are STILL working on development of ALL the applications and the comprehensive system that we first introduced back in 2007. Please refresh your memory and check out what’s coming in  the future for all users of our services.

New Streamlined PRG Membership Signup and Order Pages

If you haven’t joined the PRG and wish to do so you can register for it on our new Registration Page. This page is accessible with a link from very bottom of the PRG information page. Once completed, this form takes you to the new PRG Order Page. Be sure to notice the deeply discounted pricing!

Do Some What-If’s To See Earnings Potential Of PRG Membership

Our Port Income Calculator is still available! It has not been modified from the past but still provides a great way to get at least some idea of the potential for fabulous earnings as the company transforms itself from a micro-sized firm to the multi-national mega-firm that we have envisioned from the beginning!

Questions? Post Them Here!

If you have any questions about the PRG or the sales opportunity (or about anything else related to the company), please post them below. That way everyone visiting this blog has a chance to benefit from answers to your queries. Please check back here often. I’ll be updating this blog several times each week.

 

 

CES 2013 Report – My Top 10

OK, it’s finally time for my CES report for 2013. For the first time ever I picked up a strange virus down there. I already reported on that but it wasn’t until today that I feel normal again. I noticed it on Thursday night last week and was almost useless at CES on Friday. Today is the first day I feel normal again so it lasted for a full week.

This was the largest CES in their history. That’s really encouraging for one simple reason: Our industry seems nearly impervious to the ravages of the worldwide economic downturn. You wouldn’t know there are ongoing financial problems everywhere if all you saw was the Consumer Electronics Show.

They had almost 2 million square feet of exhibit space with more than 3,250 exhibitors showing more than 20,000 new products released for 2013. More than 150,000 attendees showed up, 35,000 of which came from more than 170 non-USA countries. To envision the space, picture more than 37 football fields and you’ll get an idea of the real estate taken by the exhibitors and attendees.

My Personal 10-Ten Of CES

Each year I like to select my Top-10 of CES. These are the technologies, gadgets, services or ideas that I think are the best, or at least most interesting in my personal point of view. I go there specifically looking for new ways to enhance our business here and I’ve never been disappointed. I also go there to re-charge my own batteries, metaphorically speaking. Once again, this year didn’t disappoint. I come back more energized than ever (notwithstanding the illness) and enthused knowing we’re on the right track with GlobalTmail™ and the products and services we’re developing. There’s something that just “feels right” about what we’re doing. It’s ambitious and has broad application in today’s marketplace. I’m not predicting we’re going to unseat the communications giants like Skype or CRM success stories like Salesforce or email and SMS providers like Constant Contact and the countless cell phone companies out there. But I “AM” confident that we’ll carve out our own little niche’ supplying much-needed services to millions of users world-wide who will know our services and make them a household name in their own realm.

I posted photos from the show so you can take a look at them.  And here are the things I found most interesting this year:

1. Wilson “Sleek Cell Phone Booster”

I WON!  How can I “NOT” like this? OK, so maybe this isn’t the abolute #1 product on my list, since I had listed it in years past, BUT I can’t help but gush a little about winning something…ANYTHING…in Las Vegas! It was one of those “drop your card in here and win” things. On my very first stop on the very first day, I visited Wilson Electronics, a company I blogged about in the past years. They’re a Utah firm that provides cell phone signal booster technology. Cell phones have a send/receive distance of about 5 miles from the closest tower. This extends the cell signal up to 20 times that far – close to 100 miles – which means it’s pretty hard to lose a cell phone signal anywhere in the USA. And here it is! This thing just arrived as I began writing this article – PERFECT TIMING!

Cell Phone Booster

This is the Wilson Cell Phone Booster designed to boost cell phone signals up to 20 times their normal strength

Gee. I’m going to HAVE to go someplace and try this out today! After I have tested it through the notorious “Bermuda Triangle of Utah” – a place I drive many times each week that ALWAYS drops cell signals and even FM radio – I’ll let you know how it performs.  Since I’m expecting to do a lot of business road trips this year, I could not have won a better prize. THANK YOU WILSON ELECTRONICS! Here’s a promo page about this device in case you want one for yourself. When I first started following this product a few years ago, it retailed for about $350. Now it’s down to around $100. Two of Wilson’s competitors were in the same area, both bad-mouthing Wilson, who appears to be the larger company.  Evidently Wilson has won the marketing battle. You can look at the two sour-grapes companies if you want, also. They are SmoothTalker and SureCall. I’ll stick with Wilson unless somebody can prove otherwise to me.

2.  MobiWeb

We’re currently seeking an SMS provider for our text-messaging module in the CRM. I’m targeting 1st Quarter of 2013 to have this up and running so it’s available to customers. I see the text-messaging capabilities as a hand-in-glove fit with our VoiFone™ application since the vast majority of these users will primarily use their cell phones rather than their computers for the calls. We’ll be able to reach 214 countries – pretty much the entire world – if we run our services through this provider. That’s a feat not even Skype is providing. Check out their website to learn more about them. I’ll open dialog with the guy I met at CES next week.

3.  Cybertegic – Internet Marketing

It never fails that on the last day of the show, near the end of my search I find an outstanding vendor. I’ve been quietly looking for somebody with real expertise for Internet marketing for the past year. We haven’t been ready to use any form of Internet marketing yet. In fact, as of today we’re still not ready. But within the next 30 to 60 days we WILL be ready so the time is right to find an expert in this field. I had a lengthy discussion with the Sales Manager for Cybertegic, Jacqueline Khella, just before the end of CES. I’m glad I kept going because I have a hunch this might be the group we work with. They’re expensive, as virtually all these vendors are, so I can’t execute a contract with them today. But as we begin making sales, and with the next infusion of capital, I want to be ready to “pull the trigger” on a great Internet marketing solution that will greatly increase our sign-up rate and usage of both primary services, GroupCaller™ and VoiFone™.  You can read about them yourself on their website.

4. ScanSnap and NeatDesk

I have watched paperless office scanning solutions for years. Several years ago a French company who since met its demise, took my #1 spot. NeatDesk beat them and everyone else out of the low-end high volume small entrepreneur market for desktop scanner filing systems. I followed Neat Corporation the past couple of years and bought a unit for the company a few months ago. I haven’t yet fully implemented it for office use, but the testing I did convinced me I was on the right track. What a great system! It’s a high-speed scanner that has great filing and OCR software, making it possible to file virtually everything an company needs to keep by just running it through this fast scanner, numbering the document and dropping the original in a storage box for later retrieve in case the original is ever needed (which rarely happens). Once it’s scanned, the document goes into a search-engine type database, making retrieval a snap.

Well, NeatDesk finally has a competitor from Fujitsu. It’s called ScanSnap and it’s every bit as impressive (and about the same size) as NeatDesk. It does a few nifty things that NeatDesk doesn’t do (yet), like allow you to place any size document in the hopper and have them all scanned regardless of sorting by size (8.5×11, business cards, receipts, invoices, etc.). Not only does it automatically scan both sides (same as Neat) and OCR them (same as Neat), but it straightens out the resulting graphics file (a MAJOR improvement). This way you don’t need to pay attention to whether you’re loading documents upside down, backwards or sideways – they’ll all show up right-side-up. I like that feature a lot! The scanner seems comparable to Neat in speed and capability. I think I’ll watch both of these companies now. But because I already have Neat,I’ll get to know it best. If you want to know my experience, contact me in a few months when I’m more of an expert with it! I’m excited to get rid of all the clutter in my office – and THAT’S the whole idea behind these 2 great products.

5.  FinderCodes, Mobilelocate, Nio, SticknFind, Fobo (and more!)

It seems like every year there are a plethora of certain new categories of companies. This year was no different. One such newly crowded field is what I’m calling the “finder” business. These are companies providing technology that helps you locate stuff you lost, or was stolen  – like cell phones, car keys, bicycle, your dog, etc. Using GPS and other technology, there are now a number of companies producing a product/service combo that guarantees you’ll find your lost “whatever-the-heck-it-is” in a snap.

One of these won a “Design and Engineering Award” honor at CES so that’s the first one one I’m listed:  FinderCodes.  There’s no software to install. It’s just a QR code system that allows you to get an account with the company, then buy QR code tags that you can affix to items yuo need to find if they are lost. It’s essentially a sophisticated lost-and-found system. If somebody finds your item, the tag tells them to scan the QR code with their smart phone. That scan will instantly notify the owner that their item has been found, and give the finder a means to contact the owner through their website. The next one, Mobilelocate takes advantage of existing cell phone GPS technology.   You register a smart phone with this company and they will give you the exact GPS location of that phone (for a fee of course). The Nio is the next item, which works only with iPhone and iPads. It’s an alarm device that you can use between your Apple device and nearly anything else (like car keys, purse or wallet, laptop computer, etc. The tag (on a key chain) is set to sound an alarm on both the device and the iPhone or iPad if these items exceed a certain distance from each other, thus preventing the loss of the item. Fobo is a similar item but works between your smart phone and the Fobo device, a silver-dollar-sized colorful and durable disc. But this one has many features making it more useful than Nio. You attach Fobo to anything (luggage, car keys, laptop, purse, wallet, etc.) and it’ll notify you when the item is within a certain distance of you, or if you get too far away from it, or if it moves (eg put it on a stack of money and if anyone moves the money, you’ll be notified on your cell phone, or leave it in your car in the parking garage to find your car when you forget its location, and more. (There’s a cute video promoting this item that’s worth watching.) Stick-N-Find is the last device in this category. You should watch the little video on this site too. It’s a little different from the rest because it’s designed to instantly find thinks (like kids running off) when they get a certain distance from your phone. It has a pretty cool little radar screen that shows you where your item (or child) is and you can make it sound an alarm or even flash. It’s great for the remote control you keep leaving all over the house, too. That’s it for the many find-it devices (but there are MORE . . .i’m just talking about these). Wonder why suddenly, engineers all over the world decided we need to actually FIND our stuff? Anyway, no need to worry about losing stuff now, right?

6.  Astro Payments, LLC

This company is just now launching. It seems they may be much like us in that respect, not quite ready for prime time, but almost there. Actually I think they’re several steps ahead of us in development because they’ve been actively using their system in the real world more than we have. This is a mobile payment solution that allows merchants to accept payments from cell phones. It appears quite a bit different from the Square, Paypal and other similar devices that attach to your cell phone. I’ll be watching this one because if we begin markeing through trade shows and increase our face-time marketing through independent agents, this might be a very handy solution for specified sales personnel to accept payment for our services.

7.  I’m Watch (from Italy!)

This is a nifty device that pretty much brings all the functions of your smart phone to your wrist. So you can just leave your phone in your pocket and do everything from the watch itself, like SMS, email, phone calls.  And of course, they didn’t leave out their companion device, the “I’m Here” finder. Not to be out-done by everyone ELSE in the tech world,  here’s a nice little video about their FINDER product – i think the finding app is more sophisticated than the other dedicated finders above.

8.  PeepHole Viewer

I’m not generally that much into home security devices. There are so many around. But this company caught my attention because of the simplicity in design of their various products. For instance, I really like the Brinno Peephole Viewer because it looks just like any other ordinary peep hole in a door – except that the person outside has no idea that you’re actually watching them on a nice large video screen and they CANNOT detect that you’re on the other side of the door like you can with normal peep holes.  You may want to check out their line of products if you’re interested in simple, affordable do-it-yourself electronic home security.

9.  USB Cloud

This is a tiny USB drive that’s actually a marketing device. There are several possible applications to GroupCaller™ and/or VoiFone™ that I’ll be exploring with this company. Basically,it’s just a tiny device that we give to people that will take them wherever we want them on the Internet. For instance, we could use it to give them access to Client-only web content like the Admin Area for GroupCaller™.  Or if we’re promoting VoiFone™ sales people could use it when doing a demo for propects. Just pop it into any PC or MAC and it goes right to the demo page, sign-up page or a combination of pages and content. This is going to take some study and negotiation but we “may” have a good marketing tool here. This is a Japanese company.

10.  Cubify – 3D Printing

This is another one of those trendy topics at CES:  3D Printing. It’s actually an automated method of turning whatever 3D rendering you can create (or a 3D photo), and making a physical object out of it. I’ve got pictures of this and another vendor in the Photo Gallery. Cubify seemed to be the more useful item and in a price range small companies, educators or individuals could afford. Their basic model is only $1,299 retail and it’s pretty amazing.  Until this year, this type of technology was only available to larger companies. Now, the price is so low anyone can make a physical model of almost anything 3D concept they can envision. Take a look at their website and you’ll see what i mean.

 Next On Deck: 1st Quarter 2013 Launch

The way I see it right now, it appears our real sales launch will be the first Quarter of this year. We’ve got about another month of development before VoiFone™ can be sold effectively; and we’re still working on some final touches for GroupCaller™. But I expect by April this year,we’ll have steady customers for both services.  Please stay tuned and check back here often. I won’t write articles every day, but I expect to publish several each week.  It’s pretty time consuming to write articles so the frequency will depend on my time availability as I’m working on these projects.  Thanks for your interest and support.  This blog is for those of you who have a vital interest in this company and our growth. Please feel free to leave comments and/or contact me about anything pertaining to the business. I’m always happy to respond to questions, concerns or comments.

 

 

VoiFone Finally Heading To Manila

Today I sent our newly minted Philippines Sales Manager, Randy Albalate, to Manila to break ground and prepare for a marketing launch of VoiFone™. There remain some daunting challenges which I mentioned in the previous article before we can really begin selling and promoting this product heavily. But we are far enough along for Randy to begin building a marketing and sales infrastructure so that’s exactly what we’re doing.

The plan is for him to establish a sufficient income over the next few months for himself and his family so he can afford to move his wife and 3 kids to Manila by spring. He’ll be selling VoiFone™ and GroupCaller™ services. He will also manage our GroupCaller™ Agents who use that product to locate new Leads which the Clients buy from us. You can read about this new service on our website.

The First 30 Days

Initially, his primary task is to set up as many Associates as possible who are also interested in promoting VoiFone™ either through their own retail location, or as a Crew Manager in the maritime industry, or just as an independent entrepreneur.  When I say he will set up an “infrastructure” I am referring to a human infrastructure – people who will help promote and use our services.

We are under a lot of pressure right now to complete several new modules on the website Randy will need to accomplish these near-term goals.  I’ll be up early and late trying to complete these things by Sunday night (Monday in Manila).

Simplify The Installation

So the faster our programmers can simplify the installation of VoiFone™, streamline the process of loading funds into their account and create the fail-over and least-cost-routing I discussed in yesterday’s article, the faster we’re going to see an acceptable level of revenue start flowing into the company.

These improvements are coming. Please stay tuned – I’ll be updating the blog a few times each week from here on out this year.

Happy New Year! Catch-Up on Nov 2012 to Jan 16, 2013

OK,  I’m fully back in the saddle now. The last 2 months of 2012 really took a toll on me and my extended family. The first week of 2012 was spent preparing to be gone on my annual trek to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Nevada for a full work-week between Monday, January 7 and Friday January 11. As it turned out I didn’t get home until the night of Saturday, January 12. On Thursday night, I caught some kind of virus – not really all flu symptoms but enough to sap all my energy and ability to function. I felt like a walking Zombie on the last day of the show, Friday and after departing for the long drive home Friday evening I wound up turning around and returning to Las Vegas to rest in a hotel another night. I got a good night’s sleep and headed for home around noon on Saturday, still sick. I didn’t really feel good until today, January 17 (Thursday). Now I’m functioning back at full steam and anxious to really get moving on several projects at the same time.

In addition to the stress from my mother’s passing, I decided to buy the house I’ve been leasing for more than 5 years. That has required that I spend inordinate amounts of time catching up on accounting and tax matters, which must be completed before the mortgage loan will be closed. The good news is that my mortgage broker reports I’m qualified for the loan. After having dropped out of credit markets and using a “cash-only'” approach to life for the past 15 years or so, I didn’t even have a credit score – not bad, not good, just . . . “NOT”. The good news is that it’s not too hard to build a credit score up to snuff when it’s non-existent. That’s in process and my score is already more than 700 after only 3 months of working on it from non-existent.

The bad news is that I still have a couple weeks of almost full time work required before i can fully devote my full time to the business. And by full time, I mean my normal 60 to 80 hours weekly. Right now I’m only averaging about 30 to 40 hours a week on the business and the rest on getting the accounting & tax work done (well that has a lot to do with the business TOO, but not with marketing & sales, which is what we really NEED). It takes a lot more than 40 hours a week to really keep things going.

VoiFone™ Brand Created

I was calling our VoIP soft phone service “V-Phone” but had to change that because Verizon owns the rights to the term “V-Phone.” That caused me to embark on a search for a brand name. I found and registered “VoiFone” and thus a new brand was born. You won’t yet find a VoiFone™ website but there is one in the planning stages. We’re using the new name and it’s really beginning to sink in now!  Here’s the logo at the top of the page if you want to know what the brand looks like already.

No Valid Marketing Yet

We still aren’t aggressively trying to market and sell VoiFone™ or our flagship hosted call center system, GroupCaller™. The reason we’re not doing either is there is sitll substantial development required before we can effectively accept and service a growing customer base.  A few of us are effectively using VoiFone™ in our personal lives right now. But there are basically 3 things that need to be completed before we are ready for prime-time marketing:

  1. Two Or More Additional Wholesale VoIP Providers:  Currently we are using only 1 of 2 accounts we have with wholesale VoIP providers. The 2nd provider is dormant at the moment because they only service the USA and don’t cover Alaska and Hawaii.  But even two is insufficient. We need at least 2 or 3 additional providers. The reason is that there are still many phone numbers the cannot be reached with the current single provider.
  2. Fail-Over and Least-Cost Routing:In addition to providing us a more comprehensive service by reaching virtually all phone numbers in every country in which we operate, there are two additional critical reasons to add more VoIP Providers:
    1. Fail-Over: This is an internal process that tells our VoIP switch that if it attempts to make a call through Provider A and that call fails, it must instantly switch to Provider B. If Provider B fails, it must switch to Provider C, and so forth. Thlis ensures our customers that most calls will go through. Most larger VoIp phone services use multiple wholesale providers for this very reason.
    2. Least-Cost Routing: Because each VoIP Provider has different prices, our system has the ability to instantly “know” which of the 4 or 5 providers has the best price and route the call through that proivder.
  3. CRM Upgrades: At the end of November I hired a CRM expert programmer to upgrade a number of issues with our CRM, which is an integral feature of the VoiFone™ system, GroupCaller™ and is actually a very integral part of everything we’re doing. The project was divided into 3 segments. He still hasn’t finished the first segment and has become less communicative in recent weeks. He’s located in India and I’m trying to get his attention now that I’m back from CES. If he doesn’t perform within 2 weeks, I’ll terminate him and negotiate a new deal with one of many others who bid on this project. This is a substantial expense and needs to be addressed before we accept more than just a small handful of new customers.

CES Report Is Coming

I’m back in the saddle now after spending all of last week at CES in Las Vegas. It was a great trade show and I got the benefit from it I was seeking. There are at least 2 new vendors it appears we’ll do business with. Also, I won a $350 prize from Wilson Electronics! I’ll tell you about it in the next article, which I expect to publish late tonight.

Stand by. . . it’s coming!