Technology

Employee Perks From Incredible Company Cultures

With every new hire, a company welcomes to the team the company’s culture increases in complexity. Of course, there are cultural norms within the company that are unlikely to be impacted by a single person but have culminated with the addition of every previous employee.  Overall, the construction of company culture has a linear relationship to the growth of the team.

The modern workplace has become an experiment in work-life balance as many companies offer perks and benefits that would seem unthinkable only a few decades ago. The benefits packages that attracted your parents and grandparents to their careers are now boilerplate in most companies.

If a tech company today offered a prospective employee only medical, dental, and 2-weeks paid-time-off benefits, the candidate would likely seek greener pastures. How has

The Evolution of Company Culture

The rapid evolution of company culture has exploded recently as job candidates become ever more selective about where and how they want to work. The competition between the tech giants to attract top talent has had an unexpected byproduct of inspiring other companies to follow suit and offer similar employee perks.

Google may be the most notable and recognizable for their efforts to create a workplace that is conducive to productivity with restaurant-quality food, laundry services, child care, on-site massage parlor and much more, entirely free.

Although most companies do not have the budget for the perks and benefits available to the average googler, a lot of companies offer free snacks, quality coffee and espresso machines, work from home opportunities, and even a stocked beer fridge for company happy hours.

Epic Employee Perks

Google is not the only company to gain notoriety for their dedication to building a culture around work-life integration, companies like Zappos, Dropbox and Airbnb are also offering envious perks.

Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.com, the online shoe retailer that sold to Amazon was a visionary who built a customer-centric company that begins with a dedication to employee satisfaction. Every new employee of Zappos is offered $2,000 to quit, in this way they can eliminate people who are only looking to make a quick buck and not focused on finding a job they love. Every employee from the custodian to the C-Level executives also spends the first two weeks on the customer support phones. This is a great way to inspire a culture of empathy and a customer centricity at every level.

Dropbox is yet another company that has built a company culture that inspires collaboration and team building. One perk at Dropbox is their music room. This fully stocked studio comes complete with instruments for employees to play music which can relieve stress and be a fun way to bond with other people within the company.

A lot of companies offer paid-time-off and support traveling. Airbnb, the largest provider of vacation rentals, provides every employee with a $2,000 budget for vacation travel.

17 Companies with Incredible Employee Benefits

To see more of the amazing perks offered by the companies with the best company cultures, check out this piece from GetVoIP:

Employee Perks from Successful Company Cultures

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​5 Reasons Why Blockchain Will Become Mainstream This Year

There is no doubt that we are living in a digital world, and blockchain is the world’s leading software platform for digital assets. Using new technology to build a better financial system, blockchain platform production is key. There are five reasons why blockchain will become mainstream this year.

The future is cash-free. 

Cryptocurrencies have a series of characteristics that make them stronger than most physical money-based currencies out there. The key, of course, is the blockchain, which is the next revolution currently happening. Since everyone will be able to access the code behind the currency, everyone will also be able to ensure that no one is taking shortages that benefit themselves, implying a true democratization of monetary systems.

The attractiveness of this is significant in crypto’s financial growth and development, as it allows more than a narrow focus on payment systems due to blockchain’s ability to encode and store highly sensitive information and personal details through the use of smart contracts. Some companies, however, are doing more than that. According to Forbes, Dispatch Labs is one blockchain company that is developing an “advanced blockchain protocol that facilitates the upload and control of programmable files for dApp developers.”

The architecture of Dispatch’s programs is said to enhance the utility of blockchain by “enabling decentralized encryption and programmability of any type of data file, not just smart contracts,” thereby creating a foundation in which developers can work on solutions to issues without data constraints.

Economic and governmental agencies are interested in cryptocurrencies. 

Cryptocurrencies are becoming a matter of interest for banks and governments around the world. Just like bitcoin was once a topic discussed mostly by techies and nerds, but is now making headlines on a regular basis, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have now become mainstream topics.

Due to the growth of discussion for economic and governmental institutions, it is now seen as having the potential to disrupt the current monetary models. Through discussions on the introduction of regulations by economic institutions and through the increase of interest by investors, as well as platforms run by decentralized organizations will make its adoption inevitable.

Dispatch Labs, states as its vision, the creation of “the platform for disrupting a host of industries by enabling the development of secure, decentralized peer-to-peer applications on a scale never before possible” in order to “facilitate the things an ubiquitous, democratized blockchain can do for the world.” By increasing the utility of blockchain technology, the functionality will allow mainstream use.

Cryptocurrency is showing growth of the asset class. 

At the end of 2017, cryptocurrency markets had generated an amazing 3,300 percent in returns, making it the most lucrative and fastest growing asset classes available today. Digital currencies provide investors with the ability to recognize significant returns in a relatively short period of time, according to CoinCodex.

Figures on the return of investment for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin highlight massive gains that indicate the benefits of long-term investment and sticking to the principles of buying and holding in the cryptocurrency market.

Blockchain will be business-ready. 

In order to ensure business-readiness, Dispatch allows business applications to easily transition to blockchain without the worry of speed or functionality issues. In this way, business applications will also become less vulnerable to hacking and security breaches.

According to Hackernoon, Dispatch Labs technology is likely to create the biggest disruption in 2018, propelling the industry forward and creating an opportunity for blockchain to become mainstream. The Dispatch blockchain is a “shared ledger, growing linearly while the data managed by the chain can continue to grow exponentially.” Also, Dispatch “enables the decentralized management of data storage,” allowing for dApps that “build and run operations on the access, manipulation, and distribution of that data.”

The need for future potential. 

Perhaps the most telling of all is the future potential of blockchain technology. While other systems are finding their value diminished in this digital age, Blockchain’s ability to combine the security of cryptography, the storage and transmission of encoded data, and peer-to-peer networks to create a shared database means that its use in various industries is endless.

The beauty of blockchain is that something can be unique and stored digitally, without needing an equivalent in the real world, meaning there are limitless possibilities for contracts, wills, deeds, certificates, and, of course eventually a digitally integrated global economy. Through a global economy, we could see enhanced economic growth and decreased world poverty.

What excites you most about blockchain technology becoming more mainstream? Tell us what applications you’re looking forward to in the comments.

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Jeremy Webb​5 Reasons Why Blockchain Will Become Mainstream This Year
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How a 6 Month Holiday can Save 400 Million Jobs

800 million jobs could be gone by 2030.

Billionaire Jack Ma of Alibaba group says that only by changing education can we compete with machines. Instead of teaching our children knowledge, we have to teach something unique: Values, Believing, Independent thinking, Teamwork, Care for others Arts, Sports. These are areas a machine can never catch up with us on.

I understand his point of view. In fact, according to Deloitte’s study of employment, no, there’s no need to hit the panic button. Their research indicates that over 144 years in the UK, technology has actually created more jobs than it has eliminated, replacing dangerous, repetitive, and less interesting work with knowledge and people-oriented jobs.

Assessing the vulnerability of modern jobs and understanding trends that put them at risk is crucial, but we are also reaching a point in technology that allows us as humans to decide whether we want to add to the portfolio of already available careers in order to fuel the economy, or take advantage of the flexibility machines are giving us, and spend time fueling society.

The 6 month off – 6 month on approach.

The aim of my 6 month approach is primarily to easy the level of unemployment society views as a threat by 2030, but have a numerous number of benefits as a result.  It is a simple scheme that I can see working on a sign up basis. A recruitment platform that posts jobs working according to the scheme, that allows two applicants to be chosen for each role. In other words, the job would be ‘shared’ by successful candidate A and B, six months of the year each.

Not viable for all jobs.

Of course, this kind of approach would not be viable for all jobs, but the beauty of the platform is that any job posted on it is up to the employers discretion, as is the hiring. Traction on what kind of job is the most successful via this approach would be fascinating. Which industry would this be most popular in?

Would the employer choose two people of the same calibre? Would they chose complete opposites to add diversity? As a study of human hiring, it could be an interesting pilot to run. The added benefit to the employer is that they would be paying essentially two for the price of one in any role they submit to this scheme.

With a fresh new and energetic perspective only six months down the road each time. If candidates A and B are hired well, the six months out could be used as a time for self improvement and innovation, that they will bring back to benefit your company.

As a candidate, the scheme is a rolling sabbatical. A  six month holiday with the peace of having a job secured six months down the line to a dot. It is a time for self improvement relating back to Jack Ma’s human uniqueness. Values, Believing, Independent thinking, Teamwork, Care for others Arts, Sports.

I am not naive enough to think a scheme like this is foolproof,  but when we think of the future, and the millions that could become unemployed as a result of incorrect education to cater for the undeniable rise in technology, we have to start thinking outside the box.​

“If we don’t change the way we teach in 30 years we will be in trouble.
We need to stop teaching our kids knowledge.
We have to teach something unique: Values, Believing, Independent thinking, Teamwork, Care for others, Arts, Sports.
So that a machine can never catch up with us..”

An interesting point of view from Jack Ma, Alibaba Group

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Digital Turns Physical: AR, Haptic, Users Touch Cyberspace

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology have been getting a lot of hype over the past few years.

This may be in light of Pokemon Go’s AR features and the introduction of the first VR headsets. Currently, though, these tools remain on the margins as companies work to identify the most appropriate applications.

One technological innovation that is enhancing the marketplace value of AR and VR is haptics, or technology oriented around touch – and such natural user interface tools are on trend for 2018. Whether it’s gesture recognition interfaces or VR environments that respond to touch, haptics enhance engagement, accessibility, and emotional resonance of virtual experiences, and that’s important if AR and VR are ever to gain real marketplace traction.

When AR, VR, and haptics collide, the results are innovative, marketable, and simply exciting – but what exactly are companies doing with this new tech? With greater insights into how end users respond to AR and VR tools, we’re encountering new modes of interaction, whether for marketing, shopping, or just connecting with friends and family.

Interventions In Ecommerce.

When given the opportunity to implement new technology, there’s always a significant market segment that wants to know how it will shape ecommerce, and that is unsurprisingly true of AR, VR, and haptics. Taken up with the goal of reinventing the mobile economy so that it is more trustworthy and convenient and offers a greater depth of engagement, new technology is shaping both the marketing and sales aspects of ecommerce.

One reason AR and VR are so popular with marketers is that they’ve been shown to foster empathy and emotional engagement. In fact, research has shown that they may actually be more engaging than television programs and commercials. If this fact bears out, then marketers need to shift their spending significantly to emphasize mobile AR and VR options. A high level of use by major brands on the marketing side could do more to drive adoption than marketing of AR- and VR-oriented devices themselves.

Obsess And Youvisit: AR In Action For Ecommerce.

It’s one thing to say that AR and VR are going to change how we shop or how we experience marketing, but what does it look like when we actually apply this technology? With VR still being expensive, most companies are turning to AR as they test the waters, though there have been limited VR rollouts. Supporting these new experiences are platforms by Obsess and Youvisit, among others.

This technology can provide immersive shopping.

  Applied in place, AR and VR ecommerce technology provides for an immersive shopping experience without all of the normal “stuff” of shopping. This is especially valuable for items like bedding and houseware that take up a lot of space; without it, many shops wouldn’t be able to offer these products or would need to eliminate a great number of other displays in order to make room. In fact, this is precisely the reason that Vera Bradley has begun offering a VR experience – the brand has a new bedding line that just doesn’t always fit in stores.

How does it work? In the case of Vera Bradley, the company worked with Obsess to design a VR app for use in-store or at home. While using the program, shoppers can look at the bedding from different angles, in different color combinations, and pull up information on the products. Similarly, Mastercard and Swarovski partnered with Youvisit to develop an equivalent Swarovski home décor experience.

All that’s left, of course, is the haptic element; users can’t yet virtually touch the products as they peruse them in VR or AR settings and for some this will be a serious barrier to purchase. Businesses adopting these tools should consider whether offering fabric swatches or the equivalent for virtual products could further the experience for shoppers using the tools in-house.

Gaming, Engagement, And The Element Of Fun.

While ecommerce always leaves its prints on new technology, one of the great advantages of AR, VR, and haptics is that they really lend themselves to gaming. This is evidenced in Pokemon Go, one of the first places that a lot of gamers encountered AR technology.

In fact, Pokemon Go’s most recent update, about 18 months out from its initial release, has updated to what it terms “AR+” wherein not only can players interact with Pokemon in their surroundings, but the Pokemon will have a kind of reciprocal awareness, responding to the player’s actions. This, coupled with the haptic element of throwing the Pokeball, make for a new kind of gaming experience that’s now exploding into other platforms, settings, and franchises – large and small.

Not all AR draws on haptics.

Of course, not all AR draws on haptics or vice versa, so when app and game designers are working on new programs, the main goal is to determine how any given interaction feels. AR, for example, works well because it doesn’t try too hard to be immersive. On the other hand, VR – in its attempt to provide a total experience – requires users to strap on a clunky headset, and that alone can be enough to diminish their enthusiasm for the experience.

Similar rules apply to haptics. Haptic engagement is just immersive enough, allowing users to throw or push or otherwise simply manipulate an object. In The Saber Team’s Chanukah App, for example, users can actually “spin” the dreidel on their phone screen. The action is uniquely engaging, especially for young users, and its digital nature offers a particular selling point. As the Chanukah app designer Shmuel Aber explains, “The ability to physically interact with the dreidel through a device encourages children to play this traditional game and share their culture with friends.” The haptic element, then, opens doors on emotional and social levels that pushing a button doesn’t.

What’s Next In AR, VR, And Haptics?

VR and laser projection technologies are beginning to replace methods for manufacturers. Clearly, AR, VR, and haptics are all on the verge of something big, but what’s next for these burgeoning technologies? Ultimately, so much of their growth hinges on improvements in smart phone technology, including gesture recognition and pressure sensitivity.

For many users, haptic technology as we think about it today hinges on Apple’s Taptic Engine, the complex interface that makes Apple devices “click” in time with user motion. The carefully honed technology makes it feel almost as though users are depressing a button when they’re just touching a fixed screen. This is no longer big news, but an expectation, and other brands are trying to compete; that’s what we can see happening in the Galaxy S8 and LG V30, devices that are introducing pressure sensitivity to the mobile haptics framework.

These devices aren’t alone in introducing more advanced haptics technology, and in many ways, they’re just playing catch-up. The German start-up Lofelt, on the other hand, is working on what’s they’re calling “next-gen” haptics and, as the company phrases it, the whole premise is about “creat[ing] a natural connection between people and their digital devices.” Again, connection is at the heart of these technologies – but for Lofelt the goal is to bring these features to other gaming platforms, movies, and more.

How far is Lofelt taking these haptics innovations?

Consider their proposal to use tactile signals in automobiles, preventing drivers from the need to rely on visual cues when driving and sustaining their focus. Or, their most well-known product, the Basslet – basically a soundless subwoofer worn on the wrist with headphones to enhance sound perception and experience. Pushing beyond the traditional confines of gaming, Lofelt could be the future face of AR, VR, and haptics-based innovation.

Creating actual sensation. 

Ultimately, the Basslet suggest something very important about the current state of innovation and that’s the fact that haptics as virtual touch or touch-responsiveness just isn’t enough. Users are looking for devices that actually create the real sensation, or a closer facsimile, and nothing in the VR or AR world can do that yet. Those VR products that advertise a touch element do so in the same clunky way they provide visual input: by requiring users to strap on a clunky piece of technology, as seen with the Go Touch VR system. It allows for screenless interaction, but not for the sort of sensory feedback of texture or shape that real objects provide, and that may not be possible.

Based on available technology and human physiology, try as they might, startups and major tech companies may both end up against a wall, able to provide something like “smell-a-vision” before they master haptics at their most meaningful. And that’s okay – but it’s not the promise of today’s technology. Users still think that VR shopping should let them touch the fabrics, not just see the blankets, or that haptic gaming should let them feel the cold metal of a sword or the lock on a treasure chest. And they can’t.

What AR, VR, and haptics can do, though, is create a new kind of interaction and connection. AR, for example, is gaining traction in communications technologies because, sans VR goggles, users feel as though they’re really present with the person they’re talking to.

The novelty of “first-gen” haptics hasn’t worn off yet;

we still feel like there’s something bigger going on when we interact through touch. It’s when we move on to that “next-gen” framework, ala Lofelt, that tech’s language could dangerously surpass user’s experience of it, and where those same companies should practice an abundance of caution and instead enjoy this new moment.

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Jeremy WebbDigital Turns Physical: AR, Haptic, Users Touch Cyberspace
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Your Home-Based Startup: Tips To Thrive

Starting a Business is Easier With Today’s Technology.

Starting your own business in your home is easier than ever with technology making it possible to work with clients around the globe. Working for yourself at home gives you an incredible sense of freedom as you can work from nearly anywhere in the world.

The one drawback of working for yourself is that if you are not working then you are not earning. You are in control of how much money you make and how many hours you want to work weekly. Those who are not great at motivating themselves are not ideal to work from home especially if they are their own boss. The following are tips that will allow your home-based business to thrive.

Schedule Your Day Meticulously .

All people work in a different way but having an agenda or routine can help immensely. For the more difficult things you should try to complete these in the morning while administrative tasks can be done later. The most important thing that you can do is to limit the amount of times that you check your emails daily. An email from a client can completely distract a person and break their train of thought. Most emails are not urgent and a client can call you if they need an immediate answer or have a problem.

Use An Address Other Than Your Home.

Clients can be pushy even to the point of showing up at your home. Do not use your address as the business address so you can avoid situations like that. Even job seekers can get overzealous about a potential company. Using another address also gives your business a bit of credibility as corporate sounding addresses differ from residential addresses. A virtual address is a great option and allows you to maintain your privacy from clients.

Work Outside of the Home Once or Twice a Week.

If you mainly just use the computer you should work out of the home a few times a week. A park with Wi-Fi or even a coffee shop can help break the monotony of working in your home office day after day. This will allow you to really bask in the freedom that you have because you work for yourself. Some people need to be in a quiet office though as they are easily distracted. Headphones can be a lifesaver in this situation so you can get as much work done as possible.  

Continuously Sell To Help Replace Customers Leaving.

The one thing that constantly needs to be done even for companies that have high client retention is to continue selling. This will help grow a client base and reduce the harm done when a client will not sign another contract.

Following up with clients that might have left to work with another company is important. The quality of work and pricing you offer might convince those who have strayed to sign a new contract with the company. The digital marketing team should be bringing in traffic to the site and generating leads that convert.

Working at home is simply incredible but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any issues. Keep yourself as productive as possible in order to optimize your time and increase profits. ​

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Jeremy WebbYour Home-Based Startup: Tips To Thrive
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The Benefits of Self-Organizing Teams

Teamwork is a hot topic these days. Managers are always searching for ways to improve teamwork and function for better productivity and better cohesiveness. After all, a strong team not only gets more done but has less turnover. 

Is your team leaning Lean or adjusting to Agile? We’re not here to argue for one or the other (or explain the difference), but we do believe in the power of Agil’s self-organized teams in some work settings — including ours! The problem is, the definition of a “self-organizing team” varies depending on the company.

What is a Self-Organizing Team?

A self-organizing team has some decision-making power. They also take ownership of their work and are continuously working to improve themselves and the process. Many people get hung up on the decision-making power part, leading to the myths that:

  • A manager cannot direct or redirect the team.
  • No one can tell the team what to do.

As The Great ScrumMaster puts it, “The self-organized team is a living organism, and every team member affects how strong or weak this organism will be. Team members who take responsibility and start to be accountable for the self-organized team entity instead of themselves as individuals are one step closer to being part of a great team. The ScrumMaster’s role is to support team rather than individual behavior. He must create such a team from individuals by reminding them that the team is an entity and is more important than individuals. He must always encourage team members to help others, rather than hide behind their own tasks.”[1]

There are other terms tossed around, including self-directed teams and self-managed teams, which leads to confusion. One blogger explains it this way:

  • “A self-organizing team is a team where team members get to decide among themselves who does what; the team gets to work on problems and have some power to remove their own blockages. Clearly, there are teams who are more self-organizing than others and teams which have more authority than others.
  • In a self-managing team, there is no active day-to-day management of the team. The team are [sic] effectively left to manage their own work. To my mind, this is a stronger form of self-organizing.
  • A self-directed team is a team which sets its own goals, decides its own objectives and determines its own priorities.”

Some companies attempt to create self-organizing teams and find that the team is not held accountable, or management is still telling everyone what to do. Finding that balance is not easy, and requires the right company culture and employees who are ready to take ownership.

Self-organizing teams are a different working approach than most people are used to. In most environments, transitioning to a self-organized team takes effort and time — and hits a few bumps along the way. However, this move is worth the investment.

The Benefits of Self-Organizing Teams

  1. Speed. Self-organized teams decide how to meet deadlines in a way that works for everyone and can turn around a product much faster.
  2. Agility. Priorities can change. Self-organized teams can quickly shift gears. Values that suddenly take higher priority can be moved up in the queue without interrupting people in the middle of other tasks or leaving questions about what must be done and when.
  3. Quality/customer focus. Self-organized teams are built to focus on what the customer wants or needs, and uses such feedback to improve the product and process. Instead of just “doing what the manager says,” the team is working to make the end goal better for the sake of the buyer/user. 
  4. Less time on team management. Assigning work, checking statuses, verifying that everything is done — all this management takes time. A self-organized team tracks and reports its own progress.
  5. A true team. Many teams have a “main person” or the “go-to guy.” What if that guy quits tomorrow? Self-organized teams understand each other’s roles and tasks far more and rely less on one particular person as “owner” of something. That means it’s easier to handle losing employees, and it takes less time to train new ones. (However, it is a misconception that Agile teams can handle frequent turnover without problems.)
  6. Employee satisfaction. Employees each have a purpose and know what it is. Instead of blindly following orders, team members are invested, choosing how best to accomplish a goal and then moving the project forward together.

What do you think about Agile teams? Contact us so we can put our self-organizing skills to work on your project.

[1] The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWay. Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn). Jan 9, 2017 by Zuzana Sochova.

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Jeremy WebbThe Benefits of Self-Organizing Teams
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Creating Lead Generation, Product and Sales the Easy Way

Two years ago I made a shift in my marketing agency and moved from consulting, implementation and development. We were all a connected, growing and extensive team. 

We determined to move to another model where we would offer technology first and add consulting and implementation to the technology.

We could see that the technology was very scalable. The technology is basically, a platform that can sustain in the same way 10 clients or 100 clients. All of this activity is hosted in a cloud environment and will consume only the resources requested by the clients at any certain moment.  

A learning phase.

At that time, when discussing our ideas with the clients I seemed to be putting forth the idea that I am not a technical person. However, by continuing my work in this way, I’ve found out what works better for my company.

I used excuses instead of applying myself to learning that which I did not know.

After a while I realized that it was only an excuse to say that I was not technical. It was showing my lack of availability to myself and to the progress I owed to myself to learn more in the technology area. I determined to work out the way in which I could teach myself a lot in the areas I felt I was lacking in — and that especially included technology. By finally making this shift in myself and my personality, I’ve observed some very interesting things. 

The competitive business world.

1. A lot of clients are too comfortable and prefer to use “horse and carriage” type of solutions having bigger costs, delays in execution and sometimes big or small incompatibilities with the actual web standards. Practically, some decision makers are more interested in keeping their comfort zone than the good of the company and I find this not acceptable in today’s very competitive business world.
 

2. Also, I’ve observed a lack of understanding that the technology, in general, is better and better, more secure and cheaper at the same time. We must learn all the technology that we can in order to become faster and better at what we do and the services that we provide.
 

3. I’ve met companies who wish to have all “information security” for their database  — and yet will send everything they have to secure to an external processor. The external processor then takes care of the operation of sending newsletters. Using this process is basically losing the control over your company security.

A more appropriate way of doing this action from a security standpoint, and even from a cost and execution point of view — would be for the company (or client) to secure their own information with a username and password in a rented platform. Possibly even consider the notion of using a private server. 

This process can then become an asset for the company to utilize an external processor to manage the newsletter or whatever the case may be. In the case of e-mails, there is another potential problem: the deliverability of them to the inboxes of the recipients. It’s better to work with a specialized provider. 

4. I saw many ignorant clients buying things sold as 100 percent custom made but they were buying just arranged templates and personalized open source platforms. I witnesses that 70 percent of the work was already performed.

Of course, this is all about honesty first and then the creativity that has to be provided no matter what. How good the technology is without a great copywriter and an amazing idea will generally produce nothing or less than nothing.

I saw a happy client who bought a WordPress blog that was 100 percent customized — or so he supposed — when actually, WordPress is a free open source software. You can even buy a theme with less than $30. I saw ZERO type of any actual type of personalization — and ironically, this “custom” equipment remained with the creator’s link in the footer. 

We must find better ways to do our work. We must study and know well that which we purchase. 

The purpose of this article is to show you, the startup founder, owner or marketer — that there are better and more effective ways of doing things.

Today’s theme is how to create lead generation pages, product pages, and sales pages.

A Facebook Ad or Google Adwords can be directed towards a page where there is offered something — possibly a “lead magnet.” Some companies exchange this for the name, e-mail address and the phone number. Some companies will allow you to sell something and show you, “we have a sales page.”

The e-commerce platforms, the ones for online stores have well standardized the pages for product presentation and even the ones for lead generation. But when selling products and services outside these platforms the problem is how do we build a sales page or opt-in page.

Those services can be created in-house or externalized towards an agency. The added value of an agency will come, not from reselling the technology based on the fact that the client is not informed, but from the creativity of the message and execution. Without the creativity and the know-how technology will not produce even two cents in advertising.  

Yes, I’m repeating myself — the technology exists already and it better and better and cheaper all the time. We need to be in a position to know when the right time to take advantage of the technology and apply it for our work. 

The Clickfunnels Platform: a small startup from the USA sensed the demand from companies and agencies to create pages for lead capture, sales pages, and sales funnels. You can test the platform free for 14 days and after that, the cost is only $97/ month.

On top of the base services – the page builder there are also available upgrades – autoresponder system, membership portals and affiliate programs. The platform contains already templates for Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and e-mail marketing optimized pages which are adapted for potential conversions.

These pages can be installed on your private domain or they can work on a clickfunnels subdomain and are hosted on the company’s servers. More details here: http://clickfunnels.eu

WordPress Profit Builder: it is ideal for WordPress fans and it works in the form of a plugin and theme which can be customized. When you attach the plugin there will become available the templates for the optin pages. There are also the sales pages and the presentation pages (product reviews) so you will just have to change the text and photos and of course you can alter the design.

It can simply be installed on your own domain. The product can be purchased with a license to be used on 3 to 50 websites for your own projects or for the clients having also developer rights and doesn’t have a free trial period. The price is one time fee – between $67 and $147. More details here.  

Convertri: the main advantage of Convertri is the speed of loading the pages created and hosted on the company’s server, important element especially during the paid campaigns where you have literally a fraction of a second to attract the attention of the user.

If the page is loading slowly — then the results can cause you a lot of trouble with your clients — and can be pretty bad with very low or nonexistent conversions. The platform has a trial period of 14 days for which you have to pay just $0.01  and after the trial, there is a monthly fee ranging from $59 and $199 for the agency version. Convertri has also a plugin version for WordPress which is included in the price. More details here

All three solutions have integrations with CRM systems, autoresponders, payment processors and others and you can be up an running with your company’s offers in a matter of hours. You gotta love the new technologies.  

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Jeremy WebbCreating Lead Generation, Product and Sales the Easy Way
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The Story of Building Tesla: With Marc Tarpenning of Tesla and Shernaz Daver of GV

Marc Tarpenning of Tesla told the audience of entrepreneurs at this year’s StartUp Grind Global Conference to think big. It means going to look for those problems that need solutions and focusing on the issues that have real meaning.

The Big Think Idea

And, that’s exactly what he and the co-founder of Tesla did. Looking back, Tarpenning is still in awe of how their think big idea is now a global company with many vehicle models and numerous plans for more thanks to its current CEO Elon Musk.

However, the think big had to start somewhat small. For Tesla, Tarpenning and his co-founder, it began in 2003 in a small office. They were looking for a product idea around sustainability. That’s when they decided to focus on the electric vehicle.

Looking for Investment Money

They went after investment money in 2004. However, not many were convinced back then that the electric vehicle would be possible or even wanted by consumers. However, Tarpenning’s own doubts about the autonomous car were solve when he viewed one in action in 2010. That’s when he realized that technology doesn’t seem possible until that moment shows you it is possible. Then, there is that thought you could have thought of that. It seems so obvious once the solution to the problem is right there.

Creating the Tech

And, in creating the technology for the electric vehicles that are now out on the road, some funny war stories emerged that add color to the story of building Tesla. During the conference, he relates how they learned better safety practices and stopped using the parking lot at their small offices after a battery disassembled itself and launched onto the roof of the offices. There was a major learning curve there.

The VC’s in the Tesla

Then, there was the story of how they won over some venture capitalists after going for a spin in a test car they put together. It might have very well been the first drag race down Sandhill Road between a Lamborghini and the test vehicle for what would be the future Tesla. And, it turns out the future Tesla won so the founders also found themselves with some potential investment money.

Elon Musk

However, the best story may be when they pitched Elon Musk. Numerous other investment pitches didn’t go well because the venture capitalists just didn’t see how an electric car was possible. However, when they pitched to Musk, he was ready to get involved. Makes sense considering he was in the process of building space ships with SpaceX. He became a very supportive force and eventually took over as CEO in 2008 when the company needed leadership that fit the incredible things they were looking to achieve.

Fast Forward Ten Years

Fast forward to the current period, which is now 10 years on from Musk taking over. While both founders are no longer with the company, Tarpenning is one founder of Tesla who looks back fondly on the experience of building Tesla by thinking big and putting meaning to what he was developing. Besides the big idea, Tarpenning realized that it was critical to have supportive, visionary leadership like Musk delivered. Plus, it was a relief that all the customers were supportive and waited patiently for their vehicles that were years behind schedule.

Meaning and Solutions

Now, Tarpenning has spent the last nine years in education and politics, seeing how he might think big there. However, it may be the next chapter for Tarpenning as he considers other areas of interest where he could add meaning and much-needed solutions. Whatever that may be, it’s bound to be a good story just like Tesla.

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Jeremy WebbThe Story of Building Tesla: With Marc Tarpenning of Tesla and Shernaz Daver of GV
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My Favorite CES Products This Year

The Consumer Technology Association’s Consumer Electronics Show just wrapped up in Vegas, after over 3,900 visiting companies showed their edgiest new products off to over 170,000 attendees.

Products on display ranged from the niche (Laundroid’s laundry-foldng robot) to the potentially revolutionary (self-driving cars). It can be a little difficult to sort through the sheer amount of innovation and exciting new technology on display.

Here’s just a few of our favorite products from this year’s big show:

Home Protection

StartupGrind started covering the Internet of Things about four years ago, and since then IOT has most definitely arrived in the American home, with everything from speakers to thermostats to lighting networked and remotely controllable. Now Angee is using IOT capabilities to make home security smarter, safer, and and easier to use.

Angee’s multi-mode protection allows users to switch between multiple security states throughout the day depending on the time and who is home. How does Angee know who’s home in the first place? Security tags placed at entrance points and around the home (or apartment) perimeter identify familiar users who enter or exit.

Angee’s 360 degree camera tracks motion when motion isn’t expected (meaning it won’t try to notify you if all it sees is your kid walking through the kitchen). Sound receptors can recognize unfamiliar or alarming noises such as breaking glass or fire alarms. If something unexpected is detected, Angee will immediately notify you.

Of course, the Angee app can always be used to simply check in using the camera’s live stream, unless privacy mode has been activated. Angee’s camera system faces the wall when occupants are home, so no footage of you or your family is actually being captured, and data is only sent from the system to the cloud when a possible threat is detected or you access it.

Home security is a big issue. SafeGuardTheWorld reports that about 2 million home burglaries occur in the US annually. — and Angee provides an innovative way to make your family feel safe without constantly tripping false alarms or threatening your privacy.

The Biowatch

You might not know it, but the vein pattern in your wrist is one of the most unique things about you. This small part of your circulatory system is totally different from anyone else’s, and unlike fingerprints, it can’t be lifted off of objects you handle. The Guardian reported in 2014 that many European banks have abandoned PIN or chip-based identification for vein mapping at some ATMs.

The Biowatch uses a daily authentication of your vein pattern to store credentials, managed in a companion app. Wearers of the Biowatch could unlock their laptop simply by sitting down in proximity to it – the Biowatch confirms their identity, and communicates with the laptop via NFC technology.

The watch is attractive and can be attached to the wearer constantly throughout the entire day, making identity confirmation essentially a mindless, yet highly secure procedure. According to PRNewswire, the Extreme Tech Challenge deemed Biowatch one of 2018’s Vertical Prize Winners. Wearable are going to be huge–StartupGrind recently reported on how they’re being used by millenials to transform fintech–and biowatch is one of the smarter new wearables out there.

Melomind Relaxation Headphones

Startup founders know that stress is a challenge to manage, and at StartupGrind we’ve tried to provide some ideas on how to relax and stay grounded. Chilling out by slipping on headphones and listening to music is nothing new. But Melomind’s creator, myBrain Technologies, are more serious about stress relief than your average headphone company.

The Melomind headphones are outfitted with four electroencephalographic sensors that monitor your brain activity as specifically designed music begins. The music is then modulated based on your brain activity readings to facilitate the process of de-stressing.

Biofeedback therapy has well-documented medical uses, according to WebMD, and is very commonly used to alleviate severe anxiety. Melomind brings these benefits into your home, drug-free. And yes, you can use it to listen to your day-to-day music too.

My Special Aflac Duck

Robotics had a big year at CES–Geek.com reports on robotic participants ranging from dogs to personal assistants to exotic dancers. But The Verge reports that insurance giant Aflac quietly introduced a humane and needed concept to the excited flurry of robotic innovation.

The duck, designed by a partnership of Aflac and robotics toy company Sproutel, is soft and cuddly like any other children’s toy. But the ducky is meant for kids dealing with cancer treatments, and a range of functionalities provide emotional support for kids going through a scary time.

[Editor note: when I read this description, I had special feelings for Ducky without ever seeing her. Hence using the name of Ducky, instead of Duck. I know a child would…]

Ducky makes emotional responses — such as pleased chirps or concerned groans — when children use emoji buttons to share their moods. Children can use pretend IV tools to practice giving medicine to ducky, creating a sense of control over their own medical treatments.

During IV mode ducky can help kids with calming breathing exercises, and children can use ducky to create a “happy place” soundscape that they can play when they feel scared. This may not be the most cutting-edge edge project on display at CES, but it does simply and effectively show how robotics can be used to truly improve people’s lives.

What was your most exciting product at CES 2018?

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Jeremy WebbMy Favorite CES Products This Year
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5 Ways Your Employees Are Being Unproductive — and How to Fix It

Productivity is one keystone of your business’s success. It’s a measure of how much your employees are able to accomplish each day, and accordingly, a gauge of the ROI of your workforce. With a high enough ROI, any raw expenditure on human resources will be worth it, as you’ll develop new products and serve customers with enough efficiency to generate revenue in excess of what you’re spending.

But productivity is an elusive area to master; most employees lose productivity in multiple areas every day, compromising your HR budget and throttling your startup’s potential to grow. Unless you’re able to track down and correct these areas of productivity loss, your business’s potential will be at their mercy.

Top Areas of Productivity Loss

What are the most common — and most egregious — offenders responsible for lost productivity?

1. Email:

If you ask a handful of your peers to rank the most egregious productivity offenders, I almost guarantee email won’t make the list.

That’s because we’ve accepted email as an essential part of modern business, and we don’t think about how much we’re emailing or how long we’re spending on it. Each email only takes a few minutes, so what’s the harm?

The harm is that we’re sending hundreds of emails a day, and even a slight delay in our processes or increase in email volume is enough to cost hours of work on a daily basis.

So what’s the solution? One option is to use a tool like Gmail Metrics, a kind of analytics app for email, to investigate how your employees are handling email and take corrective action (like rebalancing workloads or retraining employees on proper emailing standards).

2. Meetings:

Meetings fall into a similar category as email; they’re viewed as essential business functions, so any time they take is often disregarded and swept under the rug. But meetings are especially dangerous for a several reasons and to varying degrees.

Meetings involve multiple people, so any lost productivity is automatically multiplied; they’re often recurring, so the losses compound over time; and it’s hard to enforce consistent meeting rules across an entire organization. It’s estimated that bad meetings cost $37 billion a year. It’s definitely worth taking action. Include only the parties necessary for your meetings, and limit them to 30 minutes — 15 minutes if you can.

When you plan them, have a firm agenda and a stated goal for the meeting. Then, avoid recurring meetings unless they’re truly necessary.

3. Sleep deprivation:

You know that losing sleep can affect productivity, interfering with each employee’s attention span, motivation, and cognitive abilities — but you may not know how much.

According to one study, insomnia can cost businesses about $2,500 per year per employee in lost productivity — and that doesn’t factor in absenteeism. How can you improve employee sleeping habits without instituting napping on the job?

For starters, you can inform your employees about the downsides of sleep deprivation and encourage them to get a full eight hours every night. You can also be more flexible with start times, and you can consider enforcing a policy that prohibits late-night emailing.

4. Tech distractions:

It’s no secret that the marvelous new technologies that allow us significant leaps forward in productivity also take us a few steps back; distractions like social media platforms and personal smartphones steal employees’ attention away from more important tasks. In younger audiences, almost three-quarters of employees spend at least some time every day on tasks that aren’t work-related.

This problem is tricky to solve because some digital interactions are actually a good thing — it gives employees a break from work, exposing them to news that might be relevant to their positions. So rather than block distracting apps altogether, you can monitor productive versus nonproductive performance using an app like Time Doctor, only taking action with the most egregious offenses.

5. Procedural inefficiencies:

Procedural inefficiencies are usually the hardest productivity detractors to pin down. These are problems in your daily workflow that end up wasting time. For example, you might accidentally have two different positions accomplishing the same task. You might have too many checks and balances, adding extra hours to each project that passes through.

Audit your workflows periodically, and try to view them from an unbiased perspective. Are there new tools or automated functions you can integrate to make things easier? Are there areas of redundancy that can be resolved?

These aren’t the only ways employees can lose productivity; they’re just some of the most important. Start optimizing these areas, with gradual and focused changes; then, zoom out to uncover more areas where you can improve productivity.

And ask for employee feedback — your workers’ perspectives will help you more than you realize — and keep inching toward higher productivity. If you’ve implemented changes to boost your productivity and you’re still disappointed with the numbers you’re seeing, take a closer look at your workforce itself.

If you have teammates who lack motivation or feel disconnected from your company’s purpose, it may be time for them to polish their résumés — and they probably won’t have many productive accomplishments to show.

You’ll never reach perfect efficiency, but you can always improve. If you push your team to take ownership of the problem alongside you, you’ll see your organization’s productivity soar– and its potential will no longer be hampered by the inefficiencies you’ve simply learned to live with.

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Jeremy Webb5 Ways Your Employees Are Being Unproductive — and How to Fix It
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