Technology

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 Glassdoor.com.

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 Monster.com. 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, Payscale.com 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 Monster.com. Glassdoor reports that management consultants in Sydney, Australia earn AU$122,000 per year. Career website indeed.com 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

Introduction:

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.

Q&A:

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 Loris.ai, 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.

Volatility.

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.

Developers.

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.

Transparency.

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.

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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.   

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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.  

Automation.   

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.  

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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. 

Photos

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.

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VC Corner Q+A with Charles Hudson

Introduction:

Charles Hudson is the Managing Partner at Precursor Ventures, a classic seed stage investment firm based out of San Francisco, CA. Precursor seeks to invest in a company’s first round of institutional investment and focuses on investments in B2B software applications, B2C software and services, and connected hardware.

Prior to launching Precursor, Charles Hudson was a Partner with SoftTech VC, one of the most active seed stage investors in Internet and mobile startups. He focused on identifying investment opportunities in mobile infrastructure, mobile applications, and marketplaces. He was also the Co-Founder and CEO of Bionic Panda Games, an Android-focused mobile games startup.

Prior to joining SoftTech VC and co-founding Bionic Panda Games, Charles Hudson was the VP of Business Development for Serious Business until the company was acquired by Zynga in February 2010. Prior to Serious Business, he was the Sr. Director for Business Development at Gaia Interactive, an online hangout and virtual world for teens. Prior to Gaia, Charles worked in New Business Development at Google and focused on new partnership opportunities for early-stage products in the advertising, mobile, and e-commerce markets. Prior to joining Google, he was a Product Manager for IronPort Systems, a leading provider of anti-spam hardware appliances that was acquired by Cisco Systems for $830 million in 2007.

Charles spent several years working at In-Q-Tel, the strategic venture capital group for the Central Intelligence Agency. While at In-Q-Tel, he focused on identifying investment opportunities that could deliver significant value to the CIA and the commercial market in both the short and long term. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a B.A. in Economics and Spanish from Stanford University.

Q&A:

What is your fund’s mission?

We invest in people over product at the earliest stage of the entrepreneurial journey

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

I’m really excited about how well many of our first-time founders are performing

Who is one founder you think we should watch?

Isa Watson at Envested

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

Is this a prize worth winning?

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

Do I have a clear sense of why an investor should be interested in what I’m building

Favorite business book, blog, podcast?

How I Built This with Guy Raz – check out + subscribe here!

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

I love to read non-fiction

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

It’s your company, you probably know it better than anyone else so trust your own instincts and judgment

When did you close your current fund?

December 2016

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

  1. Recruiting

  2. Fundraising

  3. Reinforcing culture

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

The very first investment from Precursor Fund I has not yet disclosed that they have taken money, so I can’t say who it is 🙂

Who is one leader you admire?

President Obama

What are the top 3 qualities of every great leader?  

  1. Empathy

  2. Self-awareness

  3. Courage

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Jeremy WebbVC Corner Q+A with Charles Hudson
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Blockchain Technology/Mobile App Development

With the huge competition already existing in the marketplace, start-ups are struggling to make use of newer technologies to stand out in the competition. Skilled mobile app developers are now being hired by start-ups leading to the massive growth of the industry.

One of the new technology being used by start-ups is the blockchain technology which it has been popular since long due to its association with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Now, however, this technology is being used in the mobile apps not only for making the transactions fast but also for keeping most important user information secure.

Why is blockchain technology being used by mobile app developers?

Though blockchain technology has been popular initially as a base for the stable functioning of every cryptocurrency, it is now being looked upon as a database that can be used almost any mobile app. The blockchain is a decentralized ledger that tracks the transactions between different parties that are shared with all the stakeholders. This makes the system very transparent and enhances app security as no fraudulent transactions can be made and no one can tamper with the transactions without the knowledge of the stakeholders.

Multiple areas can be integrated using this technology. Not only are digital transactions made more accessible by using new methods through blockchain protocols but any peer-to-peer transactions in the mobile apps proves to be a natural fit with this technology. Thus, blockchain helps in maintaining unalterable and dedicated records of transactions of any kind based on the needs of the mobile app.

Blockchain applications can disrupt the existing business models markedly by providing lower-cost instantized solutions. The blockchain protocols can make the digital transactions in business processes more accessible by using new methods. The manual, time-consuming processes can be automated with the use of blockchain.

The strong encryption underlying the blockchain technology will make blockchain stay for long, even if cryptocurrencies lose the race. This technology with its backing of many major financial institutions, real estate consortiums, healthcare organizations, and other industries that need to track transactions securely will stay in vogue in the coming years.

How does a start-up check whether blockchain is suitable for their application or not?

The start-up first needs to understand the process by which Bitcoin’s blockchain works. This helps in understanding the trade-offs that a start-up needs to make if they want to implement blockchain themselves.

The design decisions made for Bitcoin blockchain implementation will be valid for mobile app development projects of the start-up only if they are based on an implementation of peer-to-peer, pseudonymous electronic cash system. In other cases, the most likely chances are that the start-up requirements will be very different from the requirements of Bitcoin blockchain.

How will start-ups be using blockchain technology for their mobile apps?

It is most likely that the major use of blockchain in mobile apps will be to make mobile payments safe. With the use of blockchain in mobile apps, more mobile phone users will be able to trust the mobile banking using secure mobile apps.

An example of this is the partnership between the blockchain mobile payment company, TelCoin and telecom companies. Using mobile apps secure mobile payments can be made by people who have mobile phones but not bank accounts.

Other such examples of the use of blockchain technology in mobile apps include the company, landmapp, which will develop a service and mobile app that documents land rights and land titles using blockchain technology.

The basic purpose of the app is to reduce the costs for titles, mainly in the developing world, particularly Africa. The ShelterZoom app is based on blockchain and aims to build a service or mobile app that will streamline the way real estate offers are made.

Even big companies like IBM are harnessing the networking and identification capabilities of the blockchain. Using blockchain, the identities of people can be verified when they use services like getting a driving license or opening a new bank account. This will enable people to use a mobile app network and verify their identity using blockchain.

Is it easy to develop blockchain apps?

It is not a very easy task to incorporate blockchain technology in the mobile app development project, and it is still harder to make them secure. Skilled mobile app developers who are well-versed with blockchain app development are still lacking in the industry.

Thus, it is very important to set up the right standards and use the right tools for encouraging more developers to enter the field. Here are a few tips that can help start-ups in applying blockchain technology to their mobile app development project conveniently and make the blockchain app development easy.

Purpose and usefulness of blockchain for a particular business should be well-known

You need to be very clear about the need for a transaction and ledger model and its application to the business or industry for which the app is being developed. If the features of the app demand transparency, trust, and accountability throughout the network, only then blockchain technology needs to be applied.

Blockchain open source should be utilized to the max

Open source blockchain platforms that need minimum experience should be deployed for easy and quick blockchain based mobile app development. A few popular open source blockchain platforms available for facilitating the development of such apps are OpenChain, MultiChain, HydraChain, Eris, BigChainDB, Hyperledger, Stellar, etc.

Stay updated and maintain the relevance of technology

Start-ups need to ensure that the developers upgrade their skills constantly as new technologies evolve at a rapid pace. There is not only need of academic upgrade and training, but the developers also need to be active on social media profiles and panel discussions to stay updated.

Conclusion

The coming years will witness blockchain being built into countless mobile apps, ranging from retail to finance, supply chain and many other industries. This will provide highly secure mobile options for these sectors or industries. It is also predicted that a blockchain-based app store may even replace the Google’s Play Store and the Apple’s App Store as the primary way for searching, downloading, and purchasing the mobile apps.

Start-ups need to realize that for integrating blockchain technology for their mobile app development project, they first need to learn more about the blockchain and explore the abundance of helpful resources about this technology online.

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Jeremy WebbBlockchain Technology/Mobile App Development
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How AI Will Become a Priority for Marketers

A marketer’s goal is to find an audience for the product or service. While smart marketing teams work hard to identify people who might be interested, it’s not an easy task. Let’s say your target audience is 35-40-year-old dads who earn at least $60,000 a year.

Now what?

You write content aimed at them. You advertise in places they look, read, and listen. But you don’t always have the right message or the right platform. You may hit home with a small group of those people, but where are the masses beating down your door for your product?

AI will change that. Consider recommendations you receive from Pandora or Netflix. You might be surprised at some of the suggestions, but after watching or listening a while, you realize it was a good pick after all. The program knew what you liked before you did.

According to Google, AI is the future of marketing because it will achieve one of the most essential goals: relevance at scale. 

Let’s think about those two words for a moment: relevance and scale. Many business owners think they want scale. They approach marketing with a “spray and pray” technique — one that’s a waste of money. You might reach thousands of eyeballs with a freeway billboard, but are they the right eyeballs?

A viral video on YouTube might reach millions, but are any of those people actually going to order something from your business?

Relevance is critical.

That’s finding the 37-year-old dad who not only earns enough money to buy your product but sees value in paying for it. And here’s how AI will help.

  • PPC
    Marketers use pay-per-click advertising (PPC) to reach people searching for a specific set of words. You pay only if someone clicks on it, making it an efficient use of ad spend — especially because such ads on Google and Facebook give you a variety of options for segmenting your target audience by location, age, income, and interests.

    AI can help determine which platforms, which words and what message will improve the likelihood that someone will click on those ads. Plus, AI will soon manage those ads and adjust the campaign as needed based on how it’s performing.

  • More personal web experience
    PPC ads typically direct visitors to landing pages. Unlike a company’s main website, a landing page focuses on one specific action. But with AI, we might soon be able to customize a website visitor’s experience on a regular site, serving up different information and content based on that person’s location, device, demographics, and more.

    Google already serves up results using AI (called RankBrain), and it won’t be long before this approach is used elsewhere.

  • Analytics
    Marketers already study Google analytics to determine web traffic and where customers disengage. By examining at which point in the conversion process someone drops off, marketers can make improvements to retain more people. AI can learn these processes and present reports about problems.
  • Content
    Whether it’s emails or blog posts, marketers spend a lot of time on content geared toward a specific group of people. AI will help identify segments and create the best material for them.
  • Engagement
    When a customer’s interest starts to wane, you want to send him or her an email, a discount, a message, something to stay top of mind. AI will observe these changes in behavior and learn when to send what type of message for the optimum engagement.
  • Sales forecasting
    AI analytics can also help sales and management teams by reporting when to expect higher or lower sales volume based on past results, events, the weather, or anything that might affect your service or product.
  • Pricing changes
    Hotels are already relying on AI to manage dynamic pricing. Will other products and services follow suit, altering the prices of things based on supply and demand?

The Bigger Picture

AI will help marketing teams in these small ways, but more than that, it will integrate and combine the information. After all, if each section of your marketing team is using a different program, what good are those results?

They are spread across software platforms, with no one way to view it. Many of those tools are proprietary and offer just one slice of your audience data. AI will be the solution for taking all of that information and sorting it so that marketing executives can get a clear idea of what’s happening and make decisions.

How to advertise in this world of AI.

But as Forbes observes, this may lead to consumer behavior essentially powered by AI. And thus, how does a company advertise in this world? For example, the first time you ask Alexa to order diapers, which brand does it choose? Will paid advertising become a suggestion Alexa makes, as in, “You might want the Huggies brand based on your buying preferences, but Pampers has a sale today for $1 off.”

AI has far more implications for consumers and marketers than we’ve even begun to realize. If you’re ready to start using AI, talk to us about how.

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Jeremy WebbHow AI Will Become a Priority for Marketers
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