I now have a approved and official United States patent

In 2005, I received a patent cube, which is what Microsoft gives an employee for having a patent submitted. Now, I am proud to say that patent number 8243897, “Automatic Detection and Notification of Proximity of Persons of Interest” is now an official United States patent and I am listed as the inventor. Upon a patent being accepted, Microsoft gives the employee a plaque honoring the occasion, which is what I have pictured here. 

Brian's Patent Plaque


A Few Ideas for Foursquare

As I’ve been/will be on the road a bit this month (NY, San Francisco, Santa Monica, London, Paris, Seattle) I enjoy checking in with Foursquare. I’m still having fun with serendipity nature of it all, but I got to thinking about Foursquare’s reach and engagement. The following is from https://foursquare.com/about/:

Foursquare by the numbers (last updated September, 2012)

  • Community: Over 25 million people worldwide
  • Over 2.5 billion check-ins, with millions more every day
  • Businesses: Over a million using the Merchant Platform (more information at foursquare.com/business)

As a Foursquare fan (and Ambassador) I want to see Foursquare grow and succeed, so here is my free advice to Foursquare to grow users and engagement:

  1. Grow via product improvements: These include automatically checking in with the trigger being, time of day, time since last check-in, location, distance traveled since last check-in, NFC signal associated to a business (if that’s possible) and notifying the user based on these these same, but instead of checking in, the user is alerted to local deals or favorite stores/brands nearby. (note that I don’t see these features on my Windows Phone, but some might exist on iPhone or Android)
  2. Grow via partnerships: These include increased partnerships with companies like Starbucks and Wallgreens for loyalty card and in-store efforts, but also car manufacturers (like Glympse has), wi-fi hotspot companies, and through partners leveraging the Foursquare APIs. Think about what TripIt.com + Foursquare could do.
  3. Grow via marketing: Sure, advertising and social media should be use, but what if the Ambassador program turned into a regular user feature so all users could be ambassadors and get credit for it? Other cheap and broad-reaching tactics could include “save here with Foursquare” stickers instead of just a check-in window sticker, and getting employees and super users to present (a customizable, Foursquare-created deck) at local community chamber of commerce and networking events. 

Those are a few ideas I’ve had while on the road, but of course, all of these should be measured to determine which ones are working (double-down on these) and which ones aren’t (kill or modify these).

Related are brand advertising efforts, which could be considered partnerships too. I wrote up a few ideas back in February 2011 for Foursquare resources for Brand Managers that are still mostly applicable too, but of course, they’re focused on getting brands involved in Foursquare and less so on growing Foursquare users and engagement.