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5 First-Hand Tips To Build a Startup As A Digital Nomad

When starting a new business, there are many initial decisions to make. One of them is to plan the new company’s location. Or, in some cases, whether to have an actual location or not.

Many entrepreneurs are now opting for location independent options.

According to OpenColleges’s complete guide to digital nomads, “remote working trends are growing worldwide, and taking the faster internet connections and growing millennial workforce, who value travel, into account, it is safe to say that digital nomadism is here to stay.”

Although most digital nomads are freelancers, contractors or remote workers, some globetrotters are also creating and running startups while enjoying a dream lifestyle. At first, it may sound tricky, but once you dig deeper into it, location independent setups can have more benefits than being based in a costly startup ecosystem.

There is a clear financial advantage.

To find out more about the financial advantages, we have talked to Sarah Hum, digital nomad and co-founder of Canny. We have asked her to share her advice with other entrepreneurs planning to start a location independent company, and she has kindly given us some helpful tips.

Sarah Hum and Andrew Rasmussen (co-founder of Canny) decided to quit their jobs at Facebook to pursue their double dream: to start a company and travel the world. Sarah and Andrew launched Canny a year ago, and so far, they have lived and worked from 14 cities in 10 different countries.

They are bootstrapping their SaaS startup, which goes from strength-to-strength, achieving profitability within the first year.

Here are 5 first-hand tips from Sarah Hum to help build a startup as a digital nomad:

1. Cut in half San Francisco’s living expenses.

“Back when we had our ‘real jobs,’ we lived in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Soon after we decided to work on Canny full-time, we moved out to become nomads. We cut our personal expenses in half. The lifestyle change was a big factor in us reaching ramen profitability less than a year in.”

2. Meet other digital nomads.

“I think loneliness is really common. We left our friends when we left home. But we realized there are many people also living the nomad lifestyle. Go out and meet them! The most memorable cities are ones where we made lasting friendships.”

3. Adapt to the time difference.

“Most of our customers are in North America. Being in Taiwan means a 12+ hour time difference. In order for us to continue providing stellar support, we’ve had to adjust our schedules. We’re now on a biphasic sleep schedule, we nap in the middle of the day.”

4. Make use of remote hiring platforms.

“During our time on the road, we decided to put out our first job listing. We posted it to an open community and several job boards for remote work picked it up. Within the week, we had hundreds of applicants. Way more than we expected. It turns out, a lot of people are looking for remote positions.”

5. Learn to communicate effectively.

“We have made our first hire. We’re now a distributed team. This brings a whole slew of new challenges: onboarding our first teammate, navigating the time difference, organizing work, and more. The best way for us to tackle all these is to first learn to communicate effectively.”

If you are planning to start your own company, you may want to consider the option of becoming a digital nomad. The community of digital nomads is growing globally and you will find other founders willing to share their valuable advice with you.

Image credit: Steven Zwerink on Flickr.

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Jeremy Webb5 First-Hand Tips To Build a Startup As A Digital Nomad
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VC Corner Q+A with Shruti Gandhi (Array Ventures)

Shruti is a founder and managing partner at Array Ventures which is a deeptech, enterprise, early stage fund. Shruti brings a strong mix of operating and investing experience. Previously, Shruti was an early stage venture capital investor at True Ventures and Samsung Electronics.

Shruti started working with Machine Learning algorithms while working on her master’s thesis in computer science from Columbia University on understanding user behavior on instant messaging platforms. While at IBM she worked on self learning algorithms that detected user location based on IP addresses, which she later incorporated into the Lotus Sametime product. Later, her company Penseev helped users make better connections with their friends based on social data.

When not investing, she is hacking on some app or thinking about ways she can be in many places at one time. Shruti also has an MBA from the University of Chicago, where she polished her finance skills before making the switch from engineer/founder to investor.

Enjoy this week’s VC Corner Q+A with Shruti Gandhi.

Q&A:

What is your fund’s mission?

Our mission at Array is to empower founders tackling big problems.

When did you close your current fund?

First close for Fund 2 was in March this year (2018)

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

Crypto will take over many large industries

What are 3 top qualities of every great leader?

  1. Curiosity

  2. Creativity

  3. Tenacity

What was your very first investment? and when?

Mobilize in 2015

What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

Do I want to live in the world this company wants to create?

What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

Will this investor help me achieve 10x more than I could on my own?

What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

  1. Clear deliverables

  2. True north mission

  3. Consistent values

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Experimentation in the kitchen

Favorite podcast?

We have a podcast at Array that I love listening to. You can find it here.

Who is one leader you admire?

The leader within that drives every woman

What is one piece of advice you’d give every founder?

At the end of the day, CEO is really a sales job

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Jeremy WebbVC Corner Q+A with Shruti Gandhi (Array Ventures)
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3 Types of Intelligence Every Startup Founder Needs

Have you ever paused and tried to come up with a definition for the idea of intelligence? Typically, people associate intelligence with the ability to perform complicated equations or figure out complex logic problems. But it goes much deeper than that.

The Role of Intelligence in Entrepreneurship

“Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including as one’s capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, and problem solving,” Wikipedia explains. “It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.”

While everyone agrees that intelligence plays a role in being a successful and productive entrepreneur, there’s still confusion about how intelligence is acquired and what amount of intelligence is needed to find success.

To a degree, intelligence is hereditary. If both of your parents are talented scientists with dozens of awards and recognition from leading institutions, then your chances of being smart are pretty good. However, not every intelligent person has “smart” parents. Just as genes play a role, so do environmental factors. Furthermore, the types of intelligence a person acquires are often a direct result of the world in which they live.

Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, has developed something he calls the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. This theory essentially states that there are eight distinct types of intelligence and there’s no direct correlation between them. In other words, a person could possess strong intelligence in one category and be totally helpless in the other seven areas (or vice versa).

Dr. Gardner also believes that these various forms of intelligence have evolved over time in response to their value in human history. If a particular form of intelligence wasn’t beneficial to society, it wouldn’t have evolved and survived to this point.

3 Types of Intelligence You Need to Master

Different types of intelligence are valued in different areas of life. When you look at entrepreneurship and study the factors that set the most successful startup founders apart from the pack, you’ll notice that there are three types of intelligence that seem to have evolved into relevancy over the years. The more you hone your skills in these areas, the more potential you’ll have.

1.      Social Intelligence

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” How many times have you heard this saying? Well, you hear it because it’s true. Your connections with people are almost always more important than your book smarts – and that’s why you need to focus on honing social intelligence: The ability to build effective relationships with other people and successfully navigate social environments.

As Dr. Daniel Goleman points out, humans are biologically hardwired to connect with other people. The human brain contains more spindle cells – cells that guide social decisions – than any other animal species. We also have mirror neurons that help us predict the behavior of people around us. Then there’s dopamine, the chemical secreted by the brain when we find other people attractive and engaging. 

As an entrepreneur, social intelligence allows you excel at networking, effectively manage employees, and enhance your sales skills. It’s integral to your overall success. The question is, how do you improve your social intelligence?

Believe it or not, it all starts with body language. Researchers have come to the conclusion that 55 percent of communication is non-verbal. (Approximately 38 percent is the tone of voice, while just 7 percent is the actual words spoken.) The more you can improve your body language – i.e. gestures, eye contact, posture, etc. – the greater influence you’ll have.

From a leadership perspective, it’s also important that you learn how to use your words for maximum influence. This means taking firm stances and having confidence in what you say.

“We admire and respect assertive people,” business coach Eva Gregory writes. “It’s frustrating when others beat around the bush or attempt to be indirect. But there’s a difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.”

For example, assertiveness would be saying something like, “I feel like it’s in the company’s best interest for us to go with the second marketing campaign.” On the other hand, an aggressive statement would say, “I don’t care what you think, we’re doing the second marketing campaign.”

A high level of emotional intelligence enables you to lead a group of people through persuasion and motivation. It’s essential to your success as a startup founder.

2.      Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence is often described as the ability to successfully and efficiently communicate with people across a variety of cultures. It has a variety of components, including behavioral, motivational, and metacognitive aspects.

When Dr. Gardner talks about the idea that different types of intelligence evolve and rise to prominence over time, cultural intelligence would certainly be a good example.

In the past, cultural intelligence has only mattered for a select few people – i.e. those who spent a lot of time traveling the globe for business. But as the internet and technology have grown, borders have dissipated, and cultures now have more interaction than ever before.

Cultural intelligence must be learned and practiced over time. The more you become aware of your deficiencies in this area, the more you can improve.

Inquisitive people tend to possess high levels of cultural intelligence. They ask questions, look for new information, and don’t automatically assume their way of doing something is the best way.

“If you find yourself puzzled or surprised about something members of the culture say or do, that can be an entry point to the culture,” applied cognitive psychologist Dr. Louise Rasmussen writes for Global Cognition. “The fact that you don’t immediately understand what’s going on is a sign that they may have a different shared understanding than you. This can be a good point to ask questions or otherwise get more information.”

Cultural intelligence is also rooted in a willingness to learn through a variety of channels, including websites and blogs, films, books, and travel. The more you diversify your pursuit of knowledge, the greater your cultural intelligence will become.

In a business world where you’re increasingly likely to have interactions with multiple cultures – both inside the workplace and outside of your company – a high degree of cultural intelligence will help you tremendously.

3.      Emotional Intelligence

The third type of intelligence modern entrepreneurs must possess is emotional intelligence, or the ability to detect and understand your emotions and the emotions of others.

“Emotionally intelligent people are empathetic – they’re good at putting themselves in someone else’s shoes and seeing challenges from different perspectives, which can also help them solve problems. These qualities typically make them excellent, respected communicators,” startup consultant Andrew Deen writes. “Although emotional intelligence is highly prized in the traditional workplace, it can be extremely helpful – and even crucial – for entrepreneurs.”

As Deen explains, a high level of emotional intelligence improves self-awareness, leads to more effective communication, enhances control over emotions, allows you to identify customer needs more effectively, unifies employees through enhanced leadership, and is “the number one indicator of success.” But how do you, as an entrepreneur, improve your emotional intelligence to enjoy more success?

The number one key to honing your emotional intelligence is to be strategic with who and what you surround yourself with. For example, the more time you spend with smart and creative people, the more likely that you’ll personally be smart and creative.

Reading is also something that has a positive impact on emotional intelligence. The more you read, the more you begin to understand how people think and process information.

On a more personal note, you need to be cognizant of your own emotions and how they impact your performance, output, and ability to lead. For example, you need people in your life who can let you know when you’re being foolish or biased. Having people in your life who hold you accountable will help you get back on track and avoid making costly mistakes.

“Emotional intelligence takes work and practice just like any other form of intelligence,” entrepreneur John Boitnott points out. “Good news – you’re in total control of working those emotional intelligence muscles. Watch who you interact with, learn new things and give yourself emotional outlets. These will all help grow this highly valuable personal capability.”

The Pursuit of Intelligence

A lot of people assume that intelligence is 100 percent hereditary. In other words, they think it’s something you either have or don’t. And while genes certainly play a significant role, to believe that you have no control over your level of intelligence is to be acutely unaware of your own power and influence.

Social, cultural, and emotional intelligence are all important for entrepreneurial success. They are also forms of intelligence that you can sharpen and improve over time. In this sense, you have more control over your own destiny than you realize.

What will you do with it?

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Kenyan Entrepreneur Changing How Films Are Consumed In Africa

Movie Mtaani is an online platform that has been existence for the past nine months. It was launched in mid-2017. Movie Mtaani aggregates Kenyan movies for easy access and viewership as well as the promotion of Kenyan films.

This company has three employees, Edwin Mbugua, the CEO and founder Dave Ngiri, the marketing manager and Collins Mugala, the production manager. The team has experience in IT, film production and distribution.

We caught up with Edwin Mbugua the founder, to learn about the inspiration to launch the platform and their future plans. 

                                                               Edwin Mbugua – CEO and Co-Founder 

Startup Grind: What was the motivation to begin Movie Mtaani? 

Edwin Mbugua: The idea for Movie Mtaani came out of curiosity and the need to easily access locally produced films. I would get a lot of queries from film producers on the different distribution channels they could take advantage of. The available channels at that time were media stations or YouTube.

I ended up online and I discovered that the challenge our films face is that they are scattered everywhere. Having this information, I brainstormed with a close friend on the idea of having a central place for Kenyan movies and that is how Movie Mtaani was born.

Startup Grind: How did you raise money to run Movie Mtaani?

Edwin Mbugua:  The seed capital to build Movie Mtaani came from the founders personal savings. In order to sustain the platform, we are planning to run adverts and premium content. We will also have movie nights where we will partner with film producers to showcase their films at selected places, for example, we are planning to hold the first ever Kisumu Movie Night on June 3rd at Dunga Hill Camp.

Startup Grind: What is the biggest challenge to pulling off such a platform?

Edwin Mbugua: The main challenge has been the cost of getting the content from film producers, especially for exclusive content.

Startup Grind: How do you market? What channels work best?

Edwin Mbugua:  Currently, the movies are marketed through our social media platforms with a lot of focus on Facebook and Twitter and through our subscriber’s mail list.

Startup Grind: How do you select movies to feature?

Edwin Mbugua:  We have a film producer who reviews the submitted movies for quality purposes which are then uploaded to the platform. We have old and new releases ranging from action, drama, comedies and TV series. The films have been filmed in English, Swahili, Kikuyu, Luo, Kisii and other languages.

Startup Grind: How do the film industry players benefit?

 Edwin Mbugua:  Film producers benefit when they lease their content to us for an agreed fee for a certain time as well as for the upcoming films we spread the word out there giving visibility. With our platform, we give a level playing field to both experienced and upcoming film producers. 

Startup Grind: How is the movie culture like in Nairobi and Kenya? What more can Kenyans do to support the movie culture?

Edwin Mbugua: The movie culture in Nairobi used to be vibrant some time back in the days when people used to flock cinemas to watch international films. Now things are again starting to look up with Kenyan films getting acceptance. Looking at Kenya, we have a tendency of giving preference to international movies giving blame that we can’t access our movies. Movie Mtaani tends to change this narrative by aggregating Kenyan movies for easy access and viewership as well as promoting Kenyan films.

How Kenyans can support the movie culture is to first appreciate our own by watching our own films when they premier — borrowing from Nigeria (Hollywood) and India (Bollywood).

Kenyan movies have shown that they have are world class by the various international awards received the likes of Kati Kati, Pumzi and recently Watu Wote.

Startup Grind: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs in the movie streaming space?

Edwin Mbugua:  Within the short time, we have been in existence knowing what your audience wants is key.

Startup Grind: What is the big dream?

 Edwin Mbugua:  Movie Mtaani aspires to showcase Kenyan talent not only Kenya but to Africa and the world at large one film at a time.

Startup Grind: What can schools do to prepare their students to join the Film & TV industry?

Edwin Mbugua:  Partnering with industry players and institutions so as to equip students with current skills as film and Tv industry is dynamic. 

Startup Grind: Can someone purchase the movies? Will there be a premium platform in the future?

Edwin Mbugua: Yes. We are currently building a feature where subscribers can purchase the movies. The platform will have both freemium and premium exclusive Kenyan content as we continue stocking our content library.

Startup Grind: What is your parting shot?

Edwin Mbugua:  The demand for Kenyan films is there going by the feedback we are receiving within the short period launched and it is with these that we aim to showcase to our subscribers both online and offline.

“Look out for Kisumu movie night happening at Dunga hill camp on June 3rd, 2018 featuring Kenyan films.”

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Jeremy WebbKenyan Entrepreneur Changing How Films Are Consumed In Africa
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How to Build a Social Media Strategy for Your Startup

Do you own a startup? Do you want to make it successful?

“Running A Business Is Easy.” — Nobody ever said this.

You have created a great product or service, but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is to convince people why should they care about your business and tell them what it can do for them. According to this report, “Generating relevant traffic and leads are the top marketing challenges for a business.”

Social Media

Social media can be your secret weapon to increase brand awareness and lead generation for your startup. The best part? It’s cost-effective mean of marketing. It’s not a channel that you SHOULD use, it has become a channel that you MUST use. It’s the most popular and effective medium to connect with your target audience and get your brand in front of them.

“Almost all the businesses and startups have social media profiles, then why do most of them fail?” I hear you ask.

You’re right, startups have social media pages, but the most common mistake they make is: NOT having a social media strategy. Only a correct plan and strategy can help you to improve brand awareness, customer acquisition, and lead generation.

71 percent of customers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. Don’t worry! In this article, you’ll find five proven ways to build a social media strategy for your startup.

1. Build (or improve) Social Media Profiles

As I mentioned, social media has immense power to attract people, generate new leads and increase revenue. But it only works when you do it right, otherwise you’ll struggle to get desired results. What to do then?

Before creating a social media strategy establish your mission, objectives and goals that you need to achieve. Now check which social media platforms meet your objectives. You don’t have to be on every social network because each platform has its own audience and USP. Build yourself a strong social media page with each platform your enter. Make your social media page with complete business information and proper image sizes. Here’s a guide for social media image sizes.

It’s Time To Improve And Update Them.

Do you have existing social media accounts? It’s time to improve and update them. Take a look at your social media statistics and demographics to understand your audience’s behavior and how it’s working. Choose the platform that meets your needs.

Julia C. Campbell as a voice for social media updates and improvements put it best here:

“Pick one network and do it well first. Choose one that you like to use personally and are comfortable using. Master it.”

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool allows you to check comprehensive demographics information.

Image via my personal Facebook account

2. Create a Content Strategy

You must create a content strategy and distribution plan before starting posts on your company’s social media accounts. Without a definite direction, you’ll be distracted. A clear definition of your desired state is going to allow you to use gap analysis to create a laser-focused action plan that is going to take you to your destination.

Here are some questions to get started:

  • Who’s your target audience for a particular content?

  • What types of content do you need to publish on social media?

  • What’s the frequency of your content?

  • What’s your plan to promote it?

First, answer these questions. Build a strategy and share the content your audience will enjoy. “I don’t know what to post on social media,” I hear you say.

A Few Ideas

If you have a startup for a marketing tool, start sharing content about marketing in form of blog content, videos, infographics, podcasts, presentations, etc. You can also share “Motivational Monday” images. Share inside photos of your office culture, this will give your followers insight into your company.

I recommend you to share relevant content from other sources regularly.

Always be consistent with your content. Follow the most popular 80-20 rule. 80 percent of your content should be informative and the other 20 percent can be promotional.

Piktochart regularly shares graphics on their Twitter page.

3. Engage with your audience

Social media is for conversations. Engaging your audience on this channel can help you to build a community of fans for your brand. It can also help create fruitful relationships with your customers.

First, you need to post interesting content that encourages people to take an action. It could be a Twitter poll, a funny graphic, a video, or a product photo that encourages your audience to tag their friends.

How do you feel when people engage with your posts and comments? It feels awesome, right?

It gives you an opportunity to make a conversation and understand your audience. Here are some ways that you can consider:

  • Respond to these interactions appropriate and answer their queries.

  • Take the conversation further by asking a question.

  • There’s a negative comment. Don’t rush, respond positively and try to resolve the issue.

  • Run contests, ask people to take a specific action, and offer incentives.

When you respond to customers, they’ll more likely to purchase from you and will share a positive experience with more people.

Check out this Facebook Post of Modcloth. They did a great job here:

4. Go Live!

It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re, startups always look for a cost-effective social media marketing strategy. We live in the fast food world where people need everything instant. Facebook live is a great medium to produce instant content. You MUST include live video in your content plan.

Live Video

It’s a fresh and unique way to provide appealing content to your audience. Popular brands already suing Facebook Live across the globe. Livestream discovered 80 percent consumers would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog and 82 percent prefer live video from a brand to social posts.

Use Live videos to ask questions, company culture, event, or product launch. It drives real-time engagement. Encourage your audience to comment and respond to their questions. Don’t forget to calling out their names. It makes people feel special to hear their names in your live video.

Here’s an example: Embed Code

<iframe src=”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftarget%2Fvideos%2F10154487189168120%2F&show_text=0&width=560″ width=”560″ height=”315″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allowFullScreen=”true”></iframe>

5. Use Email to Support your Social Media

Do you think email and social media as a competing channels? You’re making a BIG mistake. Smart businessmen take these two channels as a team player to fulfil their purpose. Be a smart marketer and use the power of email to support your social media marketing.

Jay Baer put it best at MarketingSherpa Email Summit:

“Email and social media have an important part to play in the conversation between company and consumer. They are strategically, operationally and tactically aligned — or if they aren’t, they should be.”

Don’t forget to place social media follow button in your email campaigns and make it shareable. This act will help you to generate more reach and fans. Where you need to place the buttons in email: Above the fold OR below the fold?

I recommend you to Run an A/B test – Place the buttons above the fold in email A and below the fold in email B. And see the results.

In one study, marketers were asked: “Which marketing channels does your organization integrate with your email program?”

You can also send a dedicated email campaign to your subscribers and ask them to follow you. See how crocs does a great job:

I hope these five social media strategies will help you to grow your startup. Do you want to share something? Please drop your views here.

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Jeremy WebbHow to Build a Social Media Strategy for Your Startup
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Startup Have an App? Areas To Concentrate on For Success

There was a time where a business having an app seemed pretentious or was simply their main business model. With consumers becoming more technologically savvy on a daily basis many people turn to a company’s app for guidance. Most people never login to their bank accounts on the computer as they can simply use their phone to check the huge or meager balances.

Having an app is much like having a website was a little over a decade ago. An app helps legitimize a business but it can also delegitimize a business if it is poorly designed or frustrates users. The following are a few areas to concentrate on so the app can be as successful as possible.

Define What The Company Wants Out of the App

A company designing an app just because a competitor did so is not sufficient reasoning. If you are going to spend the money to have a great app developed then it has to do something for the business or provide convenience to customers. An ecommerce company would want seamless buying through their app instead of having to head to a desktop or a buggy mobile site.

An app that tracked investments could show you real time results of the stocks you have money in. Ad revenue can be huge for apps with large download numbers and this is where many gaming apps make their fortune. Define what you want out of the app then put into a place the creation strategy of doing so.

Test, Test, Then Test Again

You are going to have to test your company’s app more times than you can count. You don’t want to launch your first app only to have it shut down and freeze up consumer’s smartphones. This is the easiest way to find your app removed from the phone in just a few uses.

Do not just have your team test this but rather a group of people you would compensate to try to give tips on what could be better. Obviously expert testers will be able to find bugs quite easily but cannot give opinions of a normal consumer as they are an expert in apps. Even if you have to delay the launching of an app this should be done instead of putting out a low quality app. The app you create will reflect on your business almost as much as your website so this is something to keep in mind.

Make The App Very Easy To Navigate

One mistake that many app developers make is thinking that the users will be as app savvy as themselves. Digital experience monitoring is defined by Appoptics as DEM and it is the monitoring strategy used to quantify and to optimize applications and digital touchpoints to provide a seamless user experience. Gartner verbosely defines DEM as follows:

“Digital experience monitoring is an availability and performance monitoring discipline that supports the optimization of the operational experience and behavior of a digital agent, human or machine, as it interacts with enterprise applications and services. For the purposes of this evaluation, it includes real-user monitoring (RUM) and synthetic transaction monitoring (STM) for both web- and mobile-based end-users.”

The use of those who specialize in UX should be paramount as well. The perfect app is much like an equation with every part being of some importance. Taking the time to develop the perfect app can change the trajectory of a business quite quickly. Do not skimp on expenses when it comes to your company app as your app could be the only portion of your company that a customer interacts with.

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Content is NOT DEAD – follow the BUZZ

During our April event, StartupGrind Tel Aviv hosted Shaul Olmert, CEO and founder of Playbuzz. As a platform Playbuzz provides a storytelling platform for publishers and brands ( founded in 2012, raised $66M to date, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars).

Olmert shared his journey, and how Playbuzz became an overnight success, growing from 3,000 users in the first month to over 50M within six months with no advertising budget. They decided to solely use Facebook.

In Olmert’s words, the story of Playbuzz shows how “content is still king!”

Olmert shared with us several tips for entrepreneurs:

Don’t lose faith:

Olmert almost lost faith in himself and went for soul-searching. He had to isolate all the noise and ask himself what he really wanted to do, and what he was good at. This period is what led him to start Playbuzz, that came from the heart.

The big picture:

The main role of the CEO is to remind everyone WHY they are doing what they’re doing – making sure the team preserves the business focus, reminding them what they are trying to achieve. 

Choose what NOT to do:

There is a certain pace in which an organization can grow, so you need to figure out what you are banking on. Each day you have to choose what you are NOT going to do, not only what you will.

Confidence:

Don’t let anyone tell you that a market is dead: Contrary to other founders, Olmert thinks that if you really believe in something, you should do it. Even if others tell you (as he was told), that there is no addressable market. As it turned out, Playbuzz was simply ahead of the times in terms of interactive content.

Partnerships: choose the right investors:

Choosing the right partners on your journey as a startup is crucial. Choosing investors is like choosing partners for life – you want someone who will believe in your vision, and someone you can get along with.

People:

When hiring, don’t focus on the fluff: Don’t focus on where they went to school and what experience they have. It’s much more important that they understand the product and the grand vision, and that they really want to work with you.

Time:

Once a company starts growing, invest most of your time in the people: Hiring employees is like giving someone else the keys to your car – you have to trust them. This is why Olmert spends much of his time interviewing new employees, and getting to know those who work for him.

Fundraising:

Raise money when you can, not when you need it: Olmert advises that fundraising is a balance. You shouldn’t raise money when you are desperate — you want to come with leverage. However, you should also avoid raising too much money, because the more money you have, the more money you will spend (and at times you will do spend unnecessarily).

Powerful quote:

“Communication is the most important things in human life. And so much of it is done digitally, so if you can improve the communication, you can affect people lives. It’s beyond the industry and making more money, it’s about doing something that matters to people”

About Shaul Olmert:

Olmert grew up in Jerusalem. He was raised by a politician father and an artist mother. He took an early interest in movie-making and cinema. He served in the Israeli army creating instructive video content and then studied design and communications in Germany and the US. He worked as Biz Dev for Oberon Media and was later VP of digital at MTV.

When he returned to Israel, he realized he still didn’t have a clear picture of what he really wanted to do, or what he was really good at. Playbuzz is essentially the result of this soul-searching. Playbuzz enables its customers to distribute and monetize interactive stories that create better audience engagement.

The idea of Playbuzz resulted from the understanding that user attention equals monetization. Once great traffic is established, more advertisers want to advertise alongside the engaging content.

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Content is NOT DEAD – follow the BUZZ

During our April event, StartupGrind Tel Aviv hosted Shaul Olmert, CEO and founder of Playbuzz. As a platform Playbuzz provides a storytelling platform for publishers and brands ( founded in 2012, raised $66M to date, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars).

Olmert shared his journey, and how Playbuzz became an overnight success, growing from 3,000 users in the first month to over 50M within six months with no advertising budget. They decided to solely use Facebook.

In Olmert’s words, the story of Playbuzz shows how “content is still king!”

Olmert shared with us several tips for entrepreneurs:

Don’t lose faith:

Olmert almost lost faith in himself and went for soul-searching. He had to isolate all the noise and ask himself what he really wanted to do, and what he was good at. This period is what led him to start Playbuzz, that came from the heart.

The big picture:

The main role of the CEO is to remind everyone WHY they are doing what they’re doing – making sure the team preserves the business focus, reminding them what they are trying to achieve. 

Choose what NOT to do:

There is a certain pace in which an organization can grow, so you need to figure out what you are banking on. Each day you have to choose what you are NOT going to do, not only what you will.

Confidence:

Don’t let anyone tell you that a market is dead: Contrary to other founders, Olmert thinks that if you really believe in something, you should do it. Even if others tell you (as he was told), that there is no addressable market. As it turned out, Playbuzz was simply ahead of the times in terms of interactive content.

Partnerships: choose the right investors:

Choosing the right partners on your journey as a startup is crucial. Choosing investors is like choosing partners for life – you want someone who will believe in your vision, and someone you can get along with.

People:

When hiring, don’t focus on the fluff: Don’t focus on where they went to school and what experience they have. It’s much more important that they understand the product and the grand vision, and that they really want to work with you.

Time:

Once a company starts growing, invest most of your time in the people: Hiring employees is like giving someone else the keys to your car – you have to trust them. This is why Olmert spends much of his time interviewing new employees, and getting to know those who work for him.

Fundraising:

Raise money when you can, not when you need it: Olmert advises that fundraising is a balance. You shouldn’t raise money when you are desperate — you want to come with leverage. However, you should also avoid raising too much money, because the more money you have, the more money you will spend (and at times you will do spend unnecessarily).

Powerful quote:

“Communication is the most important things in human life. And so much of it is done digitally, so if you can improve the communication, you can affect people lives. It’s beyond the industry and making more money, it’s about doing something that matters to people”

About Shaul Olmert:

Olmert grew up in Jerusalem. He was raised by a politician father and an artist mother. He took an early interest in movie-making and cinema. He served in the Israeli army creating instructive video content and then studied design and communications in Germany and the US. He worked as Biz Dev for Oberon Media and was later VP of digital at MTV.

When he returned to Israel, he realized he still didn’t have a clear picture of what he really wanted to do, or what he was really good at. Playbuzz is essentially the result of this soul-searching. Playbuzz enables its customers to distribute and monetize interactive stories that create better audience engagement.

The idea of Playbuzz resulted from the understanding that user attention equals monetization. Once great traffic is established, more advertisers want to advertise alongside the engaging content.

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Advice to Startups from Shark Tank's Mr. Wonderful

Kevin O’ Leary visited Sacramento on April 19, 2018 to for the “Wealth Building Strategies from a Shark” Event. In 1999, he sold his business, The Learning Company to Mattel for $4.2 billion. O’Leary is also known as Mr. Wonderful on the long running TV show, Shark Tank. To date, he has invested over $8.5 million in over 40 companies that have pitched on Shark Tank.

Three Points for a Successful Pitch

During his presentation at the majestic Crest Theater, he covered three points for a successful startup pitch. In illustrating the points, he used Wicked Good Cupcakes, a company he invested on in Shark Tank, as an example of a great successful pitch. The founders covered his three points and received a $75K investment from O’Leary despite being a commodity that can easily be replicated (You can view their appearance on Shark Tank here).  Here are the three points:

1. Articulate the Opportunity in 90 Seconds or Less

When O’Leary listens to a pitch, in 90 seconds or less, he should be able to understand:

  • What the business does.
  • How it works.
  • What the opportunity is.
  • If the entrepreneur can’t convey the above in 90 seconds, it’s doubtful that he will make an offer. In the case of Wicked Good Cupcakes, the founders quickly explained their business and revenue. 

2. Why the Entrepreneur is the Right Team

O’Leary needs to feel confident that the entrepreneur is able to execute on their business plan. He often sees a great idea where he doesn’t have the confidence in the entrepreneur. As he stated, “Execution is critical.”  Using Wicked Good Cupcakes as an example, their product was wonderful, the founders were articulate and dynamic, and they already had a proven track record. 

3. Know the Numbers

Entrepreneur needs to demonstrate that they know and understand their numbers.  If they don’t know the numbers, they don’t know their business and as Kevin states, “deserves to burn in hell in perpetuity.”   He was impressed with the founders of Wicked Good Cupcakes because they knew their numbers cold; down to the penny.

O’Leary state that if an entrepreneur is able to cover these three points in their pitch, they would be in good shape. 

Why Women Entrepreneurs Make More Money

In terms of giving advice to entrepreneurs, O’Leary did an analysis of the companies he invested in; he found that that the women led companies performed better. In his analysis, the following are things that he found that woman consistently did better.

 1. Time Management

O’Leary stated that there’s a saying that if you want something done, give it to a busy mother.He found that woman were generally better in managing their time and completing tasks.He attributed this to their experience in managing a family where multi-tasking is learned skill.

2. Set Achievable Goals

In general, he found that woman set goals for their employees that were achievable.As a result, because the employees were able to meet their goals, morale was high.In contrast, he found that men often set very high goals that were often unachievable.(He called theses testosterone fueled goals).And in contrast because these goals were not achieved, morale was low.

3. Maintain Cultures that Have Less Employee Turnover

O’Leary found that woman were able to create a positive culture that had less employee turnover than their male counterparts.Looking at the previous point, as an example, because achievable goals were created, employees met their goals, morale was high, and thus people stayed with the company.Whereas in the situation where goals were unrealistic, employees were unable to meet their goals, morale was low and consequently turnover is high.

4. Assimilate Feedback to Enhance Customer Service

He also found that women were better listeners than men.Using that skill, they were able to take feedback from their customers and improve both their business process and service.

5. Protecting the Brand as a Core Principle

O’Leary found that woman did a much better job of protecting the brand of their business.For example an angry customer can do a lot of damage to a company’s brand by going on social media and venting their frustration.Being able to listen and address issues is a core to being able to protect the brand.

These five areas that he found where woman did better than men are also good points that every entrepreneur should heed.

I’m an avid fan of Shark Tank and to be honest, Kevin O’Leary was not my favorite. But after listening to his presentation and Q&A, I have better respect for him. One of the themes in his talk is that it’s much better to be brutally honest in business.

You do people a disservice if you tend to sugar coat.

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Complaining Is Ruining Your Life

No matter how good things are, we all have a tendency to complain.

You know the term: First World Problems. 

But complaining adds no value to this world. Even worse, it attracts other complainers, and then they become your circle of influence, leading to a cycle of even more complaining.

It may sound obvious, but instead of complaining about the challenges you are facing, your time is better spent finding a solution and putting that solution into action. When you learn to act on your solutions and build the habit of not complaining, it can lead to a major shift in the quality of your life.

In this article, I want to share some thoughts on why complaining brings you and others down, how to stop perpetuating this cycle, and what to do instead of complaining. 

Once you understand these three things, you can harness your negative energy to focus on your path, not your past, and you will become unstoppable. 

Complaining Compounds Negativity

I used to spend a lot of my time beating myself up or complaining about myself to myself. My increasingly negative focus only created turmoil in my brain and trashed my self-confidence. It is tempting to complain to those around you, or on social media when you’re experiencing adversity in your life, but this is the last thing you should do. 

Research shows that people who complain a lot on their Facebook page are usually the ones who get unfollowed and unfriended the most.

It comes down to Newton’s third law of motion—every action has an opposite or equal reaction.

We all go through bad days and face challenges in our life, but that doesn’t mean we have to post our exact thoughts on social media sites. What’s more important is how you handle those problems.

Honestly? No one gives a shit about how much your girlfriend or boyfriend isn’t paying attention to you, or how your boss won’t give you that raise. There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t have their own problems to deal with every day.

In fact, it says more about your integrity if you remain cool under pressure. 

If your issue doesn’t require serious help from a health professional, then you should contact a friend and talk about what’s bothering you over the phone or in person. That’s a much smarter decision than to post your biased and negative thoughts on social media sites.

If your issues concern your financial situation, instead of whining about how you don’t have enough money, then you might want to consider working harder, getting a second job, or talking to someone who can help you reduce your debt. Maybe you continue to spend money instead of “doing without” for a while. 

Or maybe you’re someone who complains about “how fat you are.” As I said earlier, if you make a plan and follow through with it, you will achieve the results you want. For example, if you cut out all processed foods and refined sugars, and make it a priority to exercise every day, then you’ll start realizing new levels of weight loss.

To be certain, none of this advice is effective until you make a purposeful mental shift to think about what you want as your long-term results. Make sure every decision you make will have a positive effect on your life, or else, don’t do it.

Making these decisions isn’t always easy, in fact sometimes it can be confusing trying to understand the decision you need to make! When this happens you need to look outside yourself to better understand where you are vs where you are going.

Stop Complaining with a Dose of Perspective

A pivotal moment in my life occurred when I vowed to not complain about the wrong things. After working an exhausting eleven-hour day, I was mentally gearing up for my first 100 km ultramarathon race; it was the longest race I’d ever competed in. 

The race was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., which meant I’d be running during the night, when normally I’d be asleep. I calculated that the race would take me about 12.5 hours to complete, and I knew I had to focus on my path to get rid of all negative thoughts of fatigue during the run.

As I ran, I saw several homeless people sleeping under a bridge. My first thoughts were, “Damn, that looks comfortable.” Then I began thinking about how those homeless people looked while all curled up, and it made me feel grateful that I wasn’t homeless and that I had a bed to sleep in. More than that, I had a job, food, shelter, and water. 

I really had nothing to complain about, especially while running an ultramarathon. 

That sight kept me grounded. It reminded me what I already knew: after running such a strenuous race, I was usually too wrecked to give a shit about what material items I owned. As long as I had a bed to crash in and some grub to restore those lost calories afterward, that was really all that mattered.

I keep this perspective with me always, the visual stops complaining before it starts for me. My intention is not to offend – I’m not saying you do not have real problems. I simply know the best thing you can do when facing adversity in life is to anchor yourself with some perspective. Do not dwell on the past—choose to start acting for your future.

Substitute Complaining with Action

In my opinion, there is only one thing you should reflect on about your past: that is seeing how far you’ve come. This is another way to gain helpful perspective when you’re getting ready to take action on your plans. 

If you’re at the lowest point of your life right now, then know your reflection will begin with today—but don’t think about your life circumstances until one or two years from now. And don’t complain during this growth process. We know complaining compounds negativity.

So, where does taking action come into play? Simple.

You cannot take action on plans that do not exist. Once you’ve stopped complaining and made your plan it is time to take action and start following your path.

Remember, we focus on the path not the past.

If you’re someone who tends to dwell on the past and you keep reminding everyone about how life was thirty years ago, then you’re living in your own world. Just know that even though war and corruption are still in the news, we are living in the most advanced, easily-accessed, creative times. Learn to embrace what’s around you.

For me, I get frustrated when I hear people complain about things they can’t control. These things include gasoline prices, the stock exchange, and even “how things aren’t as great as they used to be.” It’s obvious the gas giants are the ones to blame for the escalating prices, but if you’re not going to do something about it, then keep your mouth shut. 

If you really care, think of something you can do to save on your gas expenses. Maybe you could buy an electric car or design an app that allows you to collaborate with the gas giants to offer discounted gas. I don’t care how you solve this problem, just don’t complain about the high price of gas if you’re not going to do anything about it.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re eighteen or eighty and you’re reading this.

Just do what you can and don’t complain! None of us are entitled to anything. The world owes you nothing. Just the fact that you’ve been born and have the chance to live should be enough impetus for you to realize you can make anything happen. 

If you want something, work hard for it and don’t complain along the way.

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Jeremy WebbComplaining Is Ruining Your Life
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