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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6 Things to Look Forward to at Global 2020

Startup Grind Global Conference, February 11–12, 2020 | Fox Theater + Downtown Redwood City, CA

2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of Startup Grind and the 8th year of our annual Global Conference (Global 2020). Personally, this is my seventh year producing this show and the first year doing it with the most world-class team in the business. My first event had 1,000 people and this year nearly ten times that. The two things which always remain constant? 1) it’s a grind, but one that we love and 2) a good team is everything.

Each year we try to bring you something different, something special. We’ve designed this year’s event and program to bring endless opportunities for not just founders, but for startup teams and those at the forefront of startup groups within their organizations. It’s an event for everyone involved to learn all things tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship and to connect with the best minds and brands in business right now. It’s also been recognized as one of the best in the world.

Alas, here’s a bit of what we have in store.

Diversity — it’s not just a word, it’s a way

  • 45% of speakers and 43% of attendees identify as women
  • 25% of speakers are people of color
  • 30% of speakers started their companies outside of Silicon Valley
  • Startups from over 90 different countries will attend.
  • The age of this year’s speakers ranges from 14–61
  • The level of funding for companies’s represented is from bootstrapped (here, here!) to $24B.

Grab a ticket to Global 2020.

100+ Sessions

With industry leaders and experts from Reddit, Slack, Refinery 29, VSCO, Rent the Runway, Zoom, Disney+, Adobe, Facebook, and more. Get insights on everything from creating an interesting pitch deck to storytelling for press; building an effective marketing campaign to understanding policy and privacy regulations, the list goes on. Here are just a few standout sessions:

Top 5 Qualities of Successful Early Stage Founders with General Catalyst

Data-Driven Business: Curating the Customer Experience with Hulu + Thirdlove

Maintaining Startup Velocity While Building Mature and Reliable Systems with Uber

Negotiating, Investing, and The New Era of Cultural Influencers with Seattle Seahawks Linebacker, Super Bowl Champion, and Six-time Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner

Changing entrepreneurship in America by avoiding Silicon Valley’s Mistakes with Tristan Walker, former EIR at Andreessen Horowitz and Founder + CEO of Walker & Company Brands.

See the full speaker lineup

300+ Exhibiting Startups

With over 4,000 applications from startups in 133 countries, 500+ hours of interviews and an insane amount of inspiration, we’ve narrowed the list down to just over 300 incredible, innovative, high-growth startups who will join us as Global 2020’s exhibiting startup batch.

  • 323 startups from over 49 countries
  • 35% have 10+ people on their team and are rapidly expanding
  • 38% have raised more than $500k
  • 37 industries represented including Software, Healthcare, Fintech, SaaS, AI, E-Commerce

See the full list of Global 2020 startups

Content — for teams, not just founders

Whether you wear one of many hats (as many of us in startups do) or are the sole leader in your role, we hope you’ll find great content catered to you and your journey. Here are a few sessions designed for teams. Take the “attendee journey” below to find even more.

  • Product: Go-to-Market Strategies, Machine Learning, Failing Fast, Scaling PM teams with VSCO, Amazon, SoFi
  • Growth: Disruption, Innovation, Scaling, Global Expansion, Sustainability with Adobe, Poshmark, Google
  • Marketing/PR: Pitching to Media, Storytelling, Influencers, Competition, Mobile Trends, Brand, Launch with Zoom, Andreessen Horowitz, Rent the Runway, Disney+
  • Data: ML for Data Scientists, Customer Experience, Maintaining Velocity, Building Reliable Systems with Uber, Hulu, Greylock
  • People + Ops: Future of Work, Wellness, Teams, Collaboration, Hiring with Sequoia, IWG,
  • Community: Attracting, Building, Retaining a Strong Community + Network with Reddit, Slack, Airbnb, Patreon
  • Founders: Failures & Bounce-backs, Access to $$, Top Founder Qualities with Forerunner, Oracle for Startups, Scale Venture Partners, GV, Thumbtack

Want help tailoring sessions that are right for you? We’ve created an attendee journey that takes into consideration your goals and your purpose for joining us. PS — it includes a great template for a letter to your boss on why they should send you! Let us help guide you: take the attendee journey

Quality Connections — make friends!

As you may or may not know, Global 2020 takes over the streets of downtown Redwood City. This year we’ll have even more outdoor spaces and special events to help you stimulate some creativity and make new friends. The Community Canopy will be open to attendees who want to take a minute to enjoy an activity completely separate to the tech scene — meditate, taste some legit cookie dough with Doughp, demo a Boosted board, find a mentor, or a chapter director from your city. 230 Startup Grind Chapter Directors from 200 chapters & 61 countries around the world will be attending this year’s event (wearing a “Chapter Director” badge and likely some serious SG gear). They’re the best friends to make! We hope you’ll find at least one while you’re there.

Credits, Discounts, Giveaways — from our Sponsors

Our sponsor tent will host partners from a range of industries who are all here to support and offer resources to the Startup Grind community. Exclusive to SG attendees, stop by the main tent (and check your attendee emails) for discounts and giveaways from our partners including Plaid, AWS, Chase, Mailchimp, Oracle, Industrious, T-mobile, Segment, and more.

Just over a week left — on with the grind! We hope you’re excited. We can’t wait to see you there.

just a few of my favorites, from the left: Jelle Kajim (Sales ); Phin Mpofu (Community); Judy Chang (Marketing); Gigi Morrar (Startups)

Not yet attending yet? What are you waiting for! Grab your ticket to Global 2020

6 Things to Look Forward to at Global 2020 was originally published in Startup Grind on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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2020: 5 Predictions for the Startup & VC Community

A return to fiscal responsibility and sound board governance

Private companies with inflated unicorn values got a reality check in the public markets in 2019. Lyft and Uber felt it on the largest scale, but it’s happened at all stages, as companies prioritized growth ahead of fiscal fundamentals. WeWork imploded because calling yourself a technology company when you aren’t doesn’t actually produce a scalable $40 billion-dollar business, just an illusion of one. The growth-at-all-cost mantra isn’t paying off.

The market will continue to return to fundamentals, fiscal responsibly, and sound board governance. Founder equity at the early stage will be structured so that board involvement will have more oversight. For example, founder’s equity at the angel round will be forced into the option pool as they have to earn it out. You’ll see SoftBank and VisionFund tweak their mega-funding, grow-at-all-cost strategy and evolve towards more fiscal responsibility. Masayoshi Son will still be the maverick risk-taker, but I’m betting VisionFund 2 doesn’t get off the ground. The original fund needs the focus, and investors will demand it.

Dual-class, super-voting shares fade away with tech startups

The last few years have seen a rise in dual-class shares particularly with technology startups. These are shares that give founders super-voting rights. Mark Zuckerberg’s class B shares give him 60% control. That means Zuck controls everything at Facebook. This scenario played out during the recent WeWork debacle with Softbank having to buy out founder Adam Neumann to the tune of $1.7 billion.

As noted in a recent Vox article: “Companies like Facebook are basically putting in place a share structure that is a bulwark against management change,” said Amy Borrus, the deputy director of the Council of Institutional Investors (CII).

Dual-class shares aren’t going away altogether. It will take some time to come to fruition, but next year we will see the earliest stage deals set this up. All-powerful, all-ruling founders will gradually give way to more structured and equitable governance.

Female founders finally break the 2% threshold and get real VC traction

Here are two key facts in our industry: first, there are more opportunities to access funding than at any other time in history. Second, report after report shows that companies with women in leadership positions experience better innovation, increase productivity, and improve financial results. Still, women are still getting a paltry amount of venture funding (hovering around the 2% figure for years) according to data from PitchBook (and others).

2020 is the year we finally see real growth pushing that 2% to at least 8%. That’s not anywhere near where it should be — it could take 10 years to see parity — but at least we’ll start to see upward traction. I see the wave building across the industry from conferences to boardrooms to the startups working with Oracle.

Some of the strongest, most insightful startups in our program are led by female founders. Each of them cite access to capital as a major hurdle in starting and growing their businesses, which is a shame because companies like Snap Tech, Transmute, Jobecam, Gapsquare and others are solving big global problems and helping both the enterprise and our society advance.

Explosive growth in environmental and agricultural tech

2020 will bring tremendous growth in solutions solving for environmental and agricultural advancements. Our societal and human needs are pushing the urgency. There is also a tension with how social enterprise and impact funds are realized. AgriTech and environmental tech will be where this happens.

We are already seeing this in our Oracle for Startups program. Kinetica, a platform for active analytics and real-time insights, is partnering with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) to protect the fragile ecosystems and waters around the San Francisco Bay. In the realm of food production in an increasingly unstable climate, LettUsGrow helps indoor farms thrive to produce healthy, sustainable, and safe food. TechShelta provides technological support to greenhouse farmers in Ghana and across Africa to help optimize production. Agroscout uses drone technology and real-time data to give farmers better ways to plant, irrigate, rotate, nurture, and maximize crops for better food production.

Shift from traditional “incubators” to a focus on virtual support via corporates

While there has always been a focus on helping startups and entrepreneurs through traditional accelerators, you’ll see a greater increase and collaboration with startups and corporations. Regional incubators will continue to pop up, and they will have short lives, well-established firms notwithstanding. Instead, there will be a focus on virtual acceleration and collaboration. Much like what we see from Coursera and Udemy for education, we will see more virtual offerings for incubation and acceleration. Corporations across the globe have launched virtual startup programs and innovation hubs to connect and support startups.

As Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” mantra underscores, great ideas and technological solutions can happen anywhere across the globe. No longer limited to the traditional hotspots of San Francisco, Boston, London, and Tel Aviv, we are seeing solutions pop up everywhere. That’s why you’ll see the strong uptick in “virtual” programs to meet and reach those entrepreneurs with the resources they need regardless of where they live.

2020: 5 Predictions for the Startup & VC Community was originally published in Startup Grind on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Tech Startups Are Changing Education For The Better

In the last decade, we have been able to see an immense growth of technology involvement in education. We’re not only talking about using computers in the classroom anymore. Technology, big data and the Internet have started revolutionizing every aspect of education in the recent years.

Of course, students are benefiting the most from this technology boom, but they’re not the only ones. Parents, teachers and school administrators are all experiencing this positive change that is modernizing, improving and facilitating education across the planet.

This is all due to the innovative educational tech startups that have realized the need to fix the problems with the traditional education systems and transform the way we learn and teach.

Startups that Are Changing the Game

As you can imagine, the most influential tech startups in education are those creating some sort of apps for fun and interactive learning. These include learning apps and games for kids and adults that are created for computers, tablets and mobile phones, which makes them incredibly convenient.

Then, there are the startups that wanted to enhance the learning process through better file organization. Schools and universities around the world are using platforms and apps that allow both students and teachers to keep everything in one place, stay organized, share files and keep track of assignments.

Aside from that, certain edutech startups have focused on facilitating the school administration process, engaging the parents through progress tracking, monitoring things like class attendance, test results, and even cheating and plagiarism.

Finally, there are the programs that provide and facilitate video lectures and online courses for both students and future teachers. For example, more and more aspiring teachers are opting for online degrees like the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and other popular training courses, to be able to keep up with the trends.

The Revolution in Education

All these startups and their technology solutions have caused quite a revolution in education, and it seems like the changes are only going to continue. Here’s how tech startups are changing education for the better.

Personalized Learning

Technology has started erasing the problematic all-for-one learning model and introduced a new personalized one. Thanks to the innovations, students can now get a custom-made learning experience that significantly increases their academic success.

Learning on the go

With technology, students around the globe are now able to learn wherever they want, whenever they want. They can study at their own pace and keep track of news, files, assignments and grades with just a few clicks.

Countless Learning/Teaching Resources

The Internet has given us access to boundless amounts of information. When it comes to education, that means countless learning resources. There are hundreds of tech startups as well as famous companies dedicated to enhancing the learning experience, which makes it easy to find learning and teaching resources in the form of eBooks, video lessons, online certificates and a lot more.

The Greater Change

Edutech startups are already shaking up education systems around the world and remodeling the modern classroom. Not only are these innovations shifting the learning process towards personalization but also changing the roles of everyone involved – from curriculum creators, across teachers to students and parents.

But this change is a good one, and it’s only just begun. We have yet to see all the ways tech startups will continue to alter and enhance education in the future.

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3 Top-Paying MBA Concentrations in 2018

Many Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs offer their students the opportunity to choose a concentration, which can also be called a “specialization” or a “track.” In Australia, some educators may refer to this as a “major.” 

While concentrating in any one aspect of business administration is not essential for career success, it can sometimes lead to higher paychecks and increased credibility in your area of specialization. Let’s take a look at 3 of the concentrations that are currently resulting in some of the top-paying job opportunities for MBA graduates.

1. General and Strategic Management

In the USA, managers are consistently some of the best-paid professionals in all industries; and management is one of the best paying MBA concentrations a student could choose. Top executives earn  US$183,270, on average. The highest paid top executives earn more than US$208,000 per year. Marketing managers in the USA earn US$129,380; and sales managers earn an average of US$121,060 per year.

In Sydney, Australia, senior managers typically earn average yearly salaries of AU$150,000, according to

A management specialization can help you solve the conundrum of how to be hired as a business manager if you don’t actually have any work experience supervising other employees. More importantly, this curriculum will give you the training necessary to manage others with confidence.

2. Technology Management

Technological expertise is becoming more critical for executives in every industry, so a specialization in technology management or a similar concentration can help to further virtually anyone’s career. Extremely similar specializations include information and knowledge management and IT management.

With this degree in hand plus relevant work experience in the USA, you’re likely to be able to land a job as an IT director; this role pays an average of US$147,000 per year, according to It’s also possible to get hired as a vice president of IT, earning an impressive salary of US$177,000 per year. In Australia, reports that IT directors earn an average of AU$164,243.

3. Strategy

In large part, strategy is such a financially rewarding focus of study in the United States because the most prestigious consulting firms are actively seeking candidates who have expertise in this specialization. So if consulting is a career path you’d be interested in pursuing, this might just be the right specialization for you.

In the USA, management consultants earn average annual salaries of around US$123,000 per year, according to Glassdoor reports that management consultants in Sydney, Australia earn AU$122,000 per year. Career website reports a much lower but still totally respectable figure of AU$96,044 per year for management consultants in Sydney.

Their statistics suggest an average management consultant salary of AU$84,743 per year across all of Australia.

If the financial rewards are a top motivator for you to seek out an MBA degree, these are 3 of the top specializations you’ll want to consider. All of these concentrations have the potential to reward you handsomely after successful graduation from your chosen MBA degree program.

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VC Corner: Ann Miura-Ko, Floodgate


Ann Miura-Ko has been called “the most powerful woman in startups” by Forbes and is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford. The child of a rocket scientist at NASA, Ann is a Palo Alto native and has been steeped in technology startups from when she was a teenager. Prior to co-founding Floodgate, she worked at Charles River Ventures and McKinsey and Company.

Some of Ann’s investments include Lyft, Ayasdi, Xamarin, Refinery29, JoyRun, TaskRabbit, and Modcloth. Given the success of her investments she was on the 2017 Midas List of top 100 venture capitalists.

Ann is known for her debate skills (she placed first in the National Tournament of Champions and second in the State of California in high school) and was part of a five-person team at Yale that competed in the Robocup Competition in Paris, France. She has a BSEE from Yale and a PhD from Stanford in math modeling of computer security. She lives with her husband, 3 kids ages 10, 8 and 6 and one spoiled dog.

Pitch your startup for an opportunity to meet with Floodgate.


What is your / your fund’s mission?

Floodgate exists to invest in prime movers – entrepreneurs who build movements that become category defining companies – before the rest of the world believes in them.

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

I believe great companies emerge when gigantic themes collide. One such collision occurring today is the incentive to centralize data in order to train machine learning algorithms and the simultaneous societal push to decentralize data driven by privacy concerns and lack of trust in institutions. How, then, can we protect our data while having systems understand who we are and what we want to do? I think the answer is decentralized intelligence, new technology that decentralizes how intelligent algorithms are created while offering us intelligent control of our own data. While I have yet to find a company that truly addresses this theme, you can imagine a world in which each individual is able to control all of their personal data and only reveal what they want to who they want.

Who is one of your founders you think we should watch?

Nancy Lublin, CEO of, is definitely a founder to watch. Nancy is a natural creator of movements. She previously founded Dress for Success, a network that empowers women to thrive both professionally and personally, and Crisis Textline, a non-profit that provides crisis intervention support via text. Both organizations are incredibly successful at leveraging thousands of volunteers to address human problems that profoundly impact the daily lives women and teenagers across the nation. Nancy brings this vast experience into the world of enterprise software. She is leveraging the knowledge she has accumulated in developing technology to intelligently prioritize Crisis Text Line messages and train volunteers to most effectively communicate with people in crisis. She will translate this to enterprise corporations who seek to empower their organizations to have hard conversations with customers, between employees and with partners.

What and when was your very first investment? What struck you about them?

Taskrabbit; Nov 2009

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

Is this a founder I want to work with for ten years? And do I think they’re going to want to work with me for ten years?

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

Does this investor’s expectations match what I want for this company, and for my life?

Who is one leader you admire?

I really admire David Swensen, Chief Investment Officer at Yale. He’s changed the way that universities manage their endowments and nurtured incredible, diverse talent within his organization. Alumni from his office are now leaders in endowment offices all over the country, and part of why he’s able to develop great talent is because he’s working on a mission he loves.

What are the top 3 qualities of every great leader?  

1. They have strong beliefs, loosely held. Great leaders can listen to people who disagree with them, learn from the experience and even experiment with tactics, but they maintain their conviction.

2. They hire up. Great leaders create spectacular teams by hiring people who are better at what they do than the leaders themselves.

3.They take non-consensus bets, strategically. When evaluating opportunities, great leaders can articulate the risks of a given bet and the reasons why they can be overcome.

Favorite business book, blog, podcast?

Play Bigger by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney. It’s different, because rather than focusing on building a product or a business, they’re thinking about building a category. And they have the data to show how important that really is.

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

I love teaching. Whether teaching my kids at home or teaching my class on entrepreneurship at Stanford, it’s something I really love to do. And I love eating.

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

You have to be all in — this is your life’s work. It will take everything you have, and that takes sacrifices, but it’s worth it in the end.

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

1. Build every part of your company (product, business model, organization, category) like it’s your product. It deserves your focus, experimentation and attention to detail

2. Eliminate distractions. Eliminate distractions. Eliminate distractions.

3. The strategy to minimize loss is not the strategy to win. Execute on the strategy to win.

Anything else?

Although we spend lots of time talking about numbers, metrics and frameworks, there’s an artistic component to entrepreneurship that’s really important. You have to imagine a world that doesn’t exist and find a way to bring it to life. That gives you license to think differently. And it’s fun!

Pitch your startup for an opportunity to meet with Floodgate.

Want to hear more? Ann spoke at our Global Conference earlier this year, check out her talk here.

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5 Reasons Why Bitcoin Will Never Be Beaten

The rise of Bitcoin can be described as monumental in several countries on earth. Bitcoin has become a driver of transactions in many facets of human endeavor. The expanding sphere of influence for cryptocurrencies can be seen in the daily transaction numbers.

After emerging as the sole cryptocurrency in 2009, Bitcoin has given rise to more than 1,500 tokens and coins. While a good percentage of altcoins are ERC-20 tokens issued on the Ethereum network, others are Bitcoin forks like Bitcoin Cash.

Let us look closer at the reasons that assure us that Bitcoin is sustainable.

The Community Base

There is no central authority that oversees how Bitcoin is traded, mined or distributed. What obtains at present is a community of Bitcoin enthusiasts that take the necessary steps to advance its fortunes.


The volatility of Bitcoin price so far this year is an area that calls for attention. In a sense, all cryptocurrencies are largely affected by the fortunes of Bitcoin. What members of the Bitcoin community are known to do is to fight off misrepresentation and false information.

Tech Improvements.

The technical improvements to the Bitcoin network can be reviewed on Github, where contributions are aggregated. The community consists of block producers, coin enthusiasts, reviewers, developers, and users. The community has no power over the market price of Bitcoin.


For many developers, hosting native apps on existing blockchains is a preferred economic decision. In a sense, the existing Bitcoin Blockchain can accommodate apps of various descriptions. This is a pointer that indicates the reliability of Bitcoin in the years to come.

The power of information.

In view of the power of information on market forces, it is understandable that the community members are active on social networks. This army of Bitcoin users provides free bitcoin Telegram signals that include information, clarifications, and references, where necessary, to keep the Bitcoin horizon clear and bright.

​Bitcoin is Largely Transparent

The transparency of Bitcoin makes it easy to track how it is mined and evaluate the transactions at any point. The records of transactions on the Bitcoin Blockchain can be accessed in order to keep a track of the nature of transactions.


The transparency of the blockchain is a vote for its adoption in many economic and organizational segments. When any technology becomes available and is suitable for adoption in many areas of life, its sustainability is assured.

Suitable for Multi-Purpose Uses.

The blockchain has been identified as suitable for use in elections, building a database, healthcare, and in educational frontiers. The realistic use of the blockchain makes it attractive for adoption around the world.

New Innovations Work.

Newer apps that are developed indicate that there are innovations that can work with the transparency of the blockchain. As much as it becomes clear that the processes that go into transaction processing on the blockchain are not opaque, integrity can be assured.

System is Working as Described.

In several areas of human endeavor, an assurance of a system working as described is important. When there is a walk-through of any system that can be corroborated by the process outcome, efficiency can be determined. This is an area that supports the blockchain as a utility.

Its Real-World Uses

Bitcoin passes the real-world usage test. It is one of the best cryptocurrency exchange and is accepted by merchants in many parts of the globe.  Bitcoin can be stored in a variety of wallets, and many tokens that are ERC-20 compliant are also safely stored in an Ethereum wallet too.

Template Other Blockchains can Adopt.

The Bitcoin Blockchain provided a template for other blockchains to adopt. Today, many emergent blockchains are an improvement on the original Bitcoin Blockchain design. The blockchain as a result of its transparency is also adaptable for process verification.

Extended Processes.

The use of the blockchain has extended to processes of manufacturing for standard-compliance. Others have pointed at using it to track fake medications, establish decentralized organizations among other reasons.

An Increasing Merchant Acceptance

Whatever enjoy a wide acceptance has a good chance of succeeding. Bitcoin acceptance is growing around the world by the day. There are several brick-and-mortar shops as well as online outlets that accept Bitcoin payments.

As the avenues to swap Bitcoin for other altcoins and fiat currencies increase, many people will be willing to accept it. When shopping online, the ease of BTC payment means that payment can be concluded with much ado.

Bitcoin users who have payment cards can easily swipe them at til points (or point of purchase). As the integration mechanism for Bitcoin payments deepens, more shoppers will be at ease when making payments.

Major payment processors like Stripe and Uphold already have Bitcoin payment option activated for their customers. Account holders are able to convert their Bitcoin balances into their virtual cards. In this regard, many options exist now that allows you pay with your Bitcoin.

The Emergence of Supportive Technologies

One of the pointers that show that Bitcoin is here to stay is the emergence of supportive technologies. While many people recognize that it might be asking for too much to expect the Bitcoin code to be re-written, others are more optimistic.

Becoming Faster.

Innovations like the Lightning Network have come into the Blockchain to make the Bitcoin network faster. Other integrations are being explored to take care of the recognizable shortcomings of the Bitcoin Blockchain. Despite the areas of inefficiencies, the network has a glowing potential.

New Technologies and Safer. 

The Bitcoin Cash platform already provides an integration that expedites the pace of transactions on Bitcoin network. As the days go by, newer technologies are emerging to make Bitcoin safer, scalable and efficient.  

On-going protocols that are undergoing test runs also point in the direction of a blockchain upgrade. Patches are introduced at intervals to plug any loophole in the network. As a dynamic entity, the room for improvement of the Bitcoin Blockchain surely exists.

Note Bitcoin is Following the Path of Internet Development.

In the early years of the World Wide Web, there were few applications that were Internet-driven. Today, all traditional systems have become Internet-compatible. This line of thought is a pointer that the blockchain will grow in leaps and bounds in the years to come.

Bitcoin is Not Going Away.

Bitcoin has come to stay as the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain platform. In view of its resilience after a wave of political and market onslaughts, it is evident that it can never be beaten.

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind

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How Shifting Trends in Media Consumption Will Affect Digital Marketing

For decades before the 2000s, media consumption remained virtually unchanged. People got their news and entertainment from the TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and other traditional forms of media. Rental stores were one of the few places you could go to get new music, CDs or a movie to watch — apart from cinemas.

The Tech Boom.

But then the internet-powered tech boom happened. Within a few years, a simple download replaced the need to go to the rental store for entertainment. People could stream music, videos, and movies from the comfort of their homes. Soon, people, especially millennials, were ditching cable TV for content streaming, giving rise to the cord-cutting generation.

The shift in media consumption has affected many allied industries, including digital marketing. While digital marketing has been undergoing a renaissance of its own, the shifting landscape of media consumption is playing a significant role in that renaissance.

For instance, digital marketing strategies used to include platforms like text messaging, interactive kiosks and TVs as the main ad platforms. However, with changing media consumption habits, digital marketers have had to rethink their content creation strategies to include platforms like Facebook and Pinterest that didn’t exist a couple of years ago.

Check out a few more ways that the tide of change in media consumption is driving the revolution in digital marketing. 

1. To own or to stream?

In the past five years or so, we have largely shifted from renting movies from the rental store to streaming Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other OTT content providers. In fact, over 60 percent of households with a broadband connection in the U.S. have at least one subscription to a streaming service.

For digital marketers, this offers a new platform for reaching out to audiences. Marketers are coming up with new marketing strategies to ensure content reaches viewers on some of these streaming platforms, including Netflix and the music streaming platform, Spotify. This way, they can get the message out to their audience even when they shift from traditional ad platforms like cable and print media.       

2. The growth of social media.

With billions of active users every month, social media has contributed immensely to the shift in media consumption. A survey conducted in 2016 by the Pew Research Center found that out of the billions of active users, 62 percent of American adults consume news via social media. The same survey also found that about 18 percent of adults get news from social media on a regular basis.

Many surveys and studies have shown millennials leading the pack in terms of adoption of social media as the main means of media consumption. Digital marketing departments are continually designing engaging content that speaks to audiences on social media. Unlike other advertising platforms, content designed for social media must speak to the hearts of audiences for the content to be shared across platforms.  

3. Live video.

Live video and video streaming have been around for a couple of years via teleconferencing platforms like Skype. However, 2016 saw live video streaming become one of the most popular ways of media consumption. Brands began using this media form to reach out and engage consumers, a trend that is bound to explode in 2017.

Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram that have started digging into live video and offer digital marketers the perfect opportunity to reach out to consumers in a timely, unscripted, and authentic manner. Plus, as this post from Over The Top SEO illustrates, videos can be creatively repurposed into many things, including embedding videos in emails as part of your email marketing strategy.  

4. Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things has been growing steadily over the past couple of years as an evolving platform for media consumption. The IoT has seen an increasing number of gadgets (or things) become connected to the internet, presenting digital marketers new ways of engaging with customers. For instance, marketers can push media content via smart refrigerators, smart watches, or even Bluetooth-enabled training shoes.

The opportunities are virtually endless in this area.

Bottom Line

As with any technological advancement, there are a ton of challenges when it comes to adoption of the new media consumption platforms by the digital marketing community. Issues like tech support, regulatory compliance, and data privacy and security will continue to haunt the marketing industry.

But as more media consumers become part of the digital movement and technology improves, digital marketers should have an easier time in this space going forward.   

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind

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White House Pledges to Open Government Data — Fuel AI Boom

The president’s most senior technology advisor is announcing that the White House is secretly pursuing an aggressive AI plan. Now with many of the seemingly backwards policies ( Bringing back coal, immigration, the Paris Agreement, etc ) coming out of the Trump Administration. Seems hard to believe that they’re pushing technology forward.  

Pushing AI Research Forward

Michael Kratsios, who is Donald Trump’s chief technology advisor, said — speaking at a MIT conference in early June called EmTech Next, that the US government would release any data that might help push forward AI research in the United States.

Now although he did not specifically say immediately what kind of data would be released or who will get access to receive the information. He went on to say that the government is looking for ways to unlock federal data to AI researchers.

 Unlock Government Data.

“Anything that we can do to unlock government data, we’re committed to,” Kratsios told EmTech Next conference. “We’d love to hear from any academic that has any insights.”  

It’s no secret that data has been a crucial factor behind recent breakthrough or advances in artificial intelligence.  As an example, improved voice recognition and image processing have been dependent on the availability of vastly large quantities of training data.  

The government has access to large amounts of data, and it’s possible that it could be used to train innovation algorithms to do new tasks. Kratsios say’s  “Anything we can do to figure that out, we will work very hard on.”

Discreetly Pushing.

The Trump administration has faced vast criticism for a more indifferent approach to AI than many other countries have already taken.

Kratsios argued that the White house is discreetly pushing an aggressive policy, pointing to examples of research projects that have gotten federal funding. When he was asked about Trump’s particular interest in artificial intelligence, Kratsios answered, “The White House has prioritized AI, and he obviously runs the White House.”   

Trump’s administration recently convened a meeting of AI experts at the White House, and it announced the creation of a select committee dedicated to AI. This committee has not yet met though.    

Chief Technology Advisor.    

Trump’s chief technology advisor reverberated that the White House claims that the government has increased funding for AI automation by 40 percent. Picking apart these numbers is a bit challenging for a few reasons: because much of the funding is classified, “AI” and “automation” are broad and somewhat non-specific terms, and funding in these areas has historically been tracked very closely.  


The issue is challenging, to say the least, considering that fact that automation has already played a role in job loss or displacement across the country – which is a key factor for many Trump voters. And besides gaining new efficiencies and revenue, artificial intelligence might well lead to further disruption for many workers. 

China’s Commitment. 

Currently, the US’s approach to AI is most certainly less public than approaches from any other governments. China for instance, has made a bold commitment to artificial intelligence.  It has called for an AI industry worth hundreds of billions over the next couple of years, and their government has challenged Chinese AI researchers to surpass their international counterparts by the year 2030.

Businesses in China are already building a reputation for cutting-edge innovation in areas such as image and voice processing and autonomous driving cars.  Now other governments around the globe, including India, the UK as well as France, have announced similarly bold AI initiatives. 

Conversely, the Trump administration is also following immigration and trade policies that are making it more difficult, not easier for universities and tech companies to attract AI talent from other countries. Currently the United State’s is the leader in artificial intelligence, but for how long will that still be the case?

Kratsios responded by saying the government would go after an immigration policy that would let AI P.H. D researchers and engineers in, and he signaled that the White House feels the US has a formidable lead over other countries. “It’s not surprising that countries are embracing an industry the US has been leading on for years,” he said.

On a final note from his talk, Kratsios said that the Office of Science and Technology has about 60 staffers today, compared with around 120 during the Obama administration, and he claimed that the office has a broad range of expertise in everything from quantum computing to energy as well as AI.  

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind

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Better Service at Restaurants — With AI and Deep Learning

Coming soon to a restaurant near you: Artificial Intelligence.

AI is making appearances these days in many industries. 

AI is actively changing healthcare and finance every day. However, AI is still an infant in the foodservice industry. In 2016, food service accounted for 2.1 percent of the U.S. GDP. While that’s not massive, restaurants are the second largest employer in the U.S., and people interact with restaurants nearly every day. That means AI will soon find its way into your eating experience. Here’s how:

AI in Restaurants 

Robots will not be taking your order at the fine dining establishment down the street just yet. AI’s initial inroads in food service are an easy one: online ordering.

Chatbots are already working here, offering assistance as you place an online order for pizza. Chatbots and AI-based online ordering systems may fully automate restaurant takeout and delivery. That means fewer human errors in your food order.

Here’s how else AI will aid food service:

  • Recommendations. 
    — Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon are already telling you what you want. The natural next step is to have AI recognize our food preferences, even allergies or dietary restrictions. Food ordering apps can remind you of that dish you loved last time (or the one you hated) and recommend trying similar items if you’re nervous about something new.
  • Assessing food quality. 
    — Video intelligence can determine the quality of food to make sure things are fresh and have a good appearance.
  • Kiosks
    — Self-ordering kiosks are already appearing in some counter-service and fast food restaurants, including Panera and McDonald’s. These kiosks cut down on errors because people are putting in their own order instead of first telling someone else. Kiosks can save money for management and make the overall customer experience smoother, so you can expect to see more of these popping up in casual dining places.
  • Robots
    — While not appearing en masse, robots are helping in food service. A more common use is with food preparation or with delivery and optimization in warehouses and distribution centers. However, “Flippy” is helping cook burgers at CaliBurger and an actual robot waiter.

    “Pepper” takes your order at the MasterCard cafe and other locations in Asia, including Pizza Hut.

    (One company proposes a robot in consumer kitchens to prepare food and clean, but it may be awhile before you see it in your neighbor’s kitchen!)

AI in Restaurant Management

One of AI’s most valuable uses is data analysis. So far, there’s little mention of companies using AI to predict food orders, revenue, inventory, or customer traffic, but a few companies are starting to offer that data to restaurant groups.

One such program, Ingest.AI, takes volumes of data about food deliveries, shift hours, staffing, reservations, vendors, and bill paying. Most restaurants use a variety of software programs to manage related tasks, but none interact or generate a big picture, resulting in both food waste and wasted time and money.

This AI program “stitches all the data bits together and uses the data amalgam to give the restaurateur a 360-degree view of its operations, increasing the restaurant’s overall efficiency,” according to Wired Magazine.

Data can help restaurants automate scheduling.

 More than just scheduling is the forecast of busy or slow nights. Menus design based on popular items, manage inventory, and track staff who are better at up-selling or those give away too many freebies.

A restaurant might even know your preferences, making it easy for your server to offer your favorite dish and store your credit card on file for a hassle-free experience.

Deep Learning in the Food Industry

Deep learning may have a place in our food intake as well. Deep learning is a subset of AI. Deep learning uses artificial neural networks (ANN), a way of computing that mimics the human brain — except we have billions of neurons, while a large ANN consists of thousands of neurons.

These neurons work in many layers, from which we get the “deep” part of deep learning. Each layer can add and compute new information.

A Deep Learning Project

A group of Harvard students used deep learning in a project for TripAdvisor to help those searching for restaurants. The program took images uploaded by restaurants and visitors and classified them into five categories: food, drinks, interior, exterior, and menu. The results were 87 percent accurate on average. 


A similar project aims to predict restaurant attributes by analyzing user photos using 200,00 images on Yelp.

The Future of AI and Eating

The costs associated with AI and deep learning are too high for single-owner restaurants to manage. But as AI becomes less expensive and begins to save people money and time, you can bet it’ll be serving you up a plate of food in one way or another very soon.

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind

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