December was a big month for Bryan Batten, founder of a Wilmington-based eBook subscription service.
“So, we rebranded, had our official launch and are now open to the public,” Batten said of Entitle, a startup that allows users to borrow eBooks and read them on a wide range of mobile devices. “We’re currently working to get people signed in. There is a steady influx of new users and few support issues, so the technology is working.”
The name change from eReatah to Entitle came about because of feedback Batten received during testing.
“We made a last-minute decision to change the name. In the beta period we solicited a lot of feedback, and respondents told me it was hard to pronounce and spell. People did not understand what it meant. It was a lot of vowels.”
Batten said the new name is more versatile as well.
“There are a lot of things you can do with marketing and taglines, and it brings in books as well,” he said.
The company has received a significant amount of national media coverage since its Dec. 16 public launch.
“It has been really good. TechCrunch, Business Insider, Mashable – they all did nice articles,” he said. “Fox & Friends had us on for their gift guide, and we made it on Street Smart on Bloomberg. People are interested in the model and the value proposition, so I think we will continue to get more coverage as we grow.”
Although the name has changed and the publicity has been rolling in, the company is still based on Eastwood Road near Sweet & Savory, sticking to its local roots. Entitle currently has a staff of four in Wilmington, one in Greensboro and one in New York City.
“We are looking to bring on another COO-type role, and as things continue to grow at the current pace, we are going to be hiring more engineers and customer support,” Batten said. “As the business grows, customer support will grow the fastest.”
Over the summer, an SEC filing revealed that the company received $5.3 million in investment capital. Batten has said in media reports the funds come from a single investor who asked not to be identified.
Entitle is putting the investment to use, assembling an expert crew and adding more bestsellers to its growing list of more than 100,000 available eBooks.
As Batten told Bloomberg TV's Matt Miller and Julie Hyman, “You can’t beat Amazon by being Amazon,” but with a dedicated team in place, new look at an old business model and a rebrand under its belt, Entitle
is looking to make an impact in the market.
New year, new tech goals
Last year, the Business Journal asked members of the local business community about their resolutions when it came to how they use technology.
We caught back up with some recently to see how they did on the resolutions and what role they see technology playing in personal and business circles this year.
Elizabeth Kuronen, PPD, vice president of strategic communications, marketing and public affairs:
“As for technology use at PPD, I would say social media channels were beneficial to PPD in 2013. LinkedIn has been a very useful employee recruitment tool for us and has strengthened our outreach. Our Facebook page is mostly used for sharing PPD news and events and we expect to see more traffic in 2014. Twitter has been a great channel to send tweets about our tradeshow activities and promote our PPD experts. YouTube has allowed us to share more promotional and educational video clips with a broader audience. In general, I think social media will continue to serve PPD well when connecting with our clients and employees across the globe.”
Annie M. Anthony, Cape Fear Volunteer Center director:
Anthony reported that the center has had an increase in the usage of Facebook during 2013, and in 2014 she is looking for new ways to engage younger people by using a mobile application or YouTube. Anthony also would like to figure out a way to decrease the cost of printing by finding a more efficient system … or by refilling her own printer cartridges.
Steve Tetrault. Gig Bureau (an online talent agency and booking
website), co-founder and president:
“We’ve finally figured out a worthwhile video conferencing system so we can effectively communicate with our Missouri office,” Tetrault said about his company’s most significant technological breakthrough in 2013.
“In 2014, we’re looking toward the possibility of hiring remote employees, which will be a huge paradigm shift for us.” Some analog items are still on Tetrault’s list as well.
“I just renewed my print subscriptions of Inc. and Fast Company, and
I use a Moleskine notebook and pen for note-taking during meetings. I won’t be wearing a smartwatch anytime soon.”
Steve Schnitzler, Port City Java CEO:
“We have updated our entire POS [point-of-sale] system, and are looking to integrate a loyalty/rewards program. This has proven very difficult, either because of physical slowdowns at the register, improper integration with the POS or costs per transaction. The ‘big boys’ all have proprietary systems that they have spent millions – if not tens of millions – developing, and we don’t have those resources.”
Schnitzler also made a personal resolution to spend more time disconnected.
“Facebook is repetitive and somewhat boring at this point. I can’t stand Twitter; the entire short attention span, ‘Listen to me’ aspect of it is beyond ridiculous, and I don’t use LinkedIn, Instagram or any other social networking site. I am trying to create ‘cell phone free’ times when the phone is away or off, and I simply don’t look at it. It can be consuming, and I want to be tied to it less.”
Ian Oeschger, IBM software developer:
“I think I did a pretty good job trying to manage my time this last year. It’s a gradual, multi-year effort not to feel so self-encumbering as a work-at-home IT professional.”
In 2014, Oeschger is going to try and use mobile workforce tools more.
“My employer has mobile versions of its collaboration software – Office email + enterprise chat – that I have so far avoided. I am going to try these out this year to see if they help me feel more liberated.”
Scott Balaban, Gameblend Studios (a video game development shop), partner:
“With all the tablets and e-readers we use for testing and development of our games, I’m a bit tired of looking at glowing rectangles,” said Balaban, who is leaning toward unplugged options in his personal life.
“For most reading, I’ve been going back to paper books and magazines.”
Gameblend is also going more traditional.
“In addition to our digital lineup, we are going back into traditional toys and games. This involves manufacturing both here and abroad. Relearning about shipping and distribution is high on the list.”