Technology

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

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/vc-corner-qa-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.

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/blockchain-technologymobile-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.

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/how-ai-will-become-a-priority-for-marketers/

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Employee Perks From Incredible Company Cultures

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

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

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

The Evolution of Company Culture

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

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

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

Epic Employee Perks

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

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

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

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

17 Companies with Incredible Employee Benefits

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

Employee Perks from Successful Company Cultures

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​5 Reasons Why Blockchain Will Become Mainstream This Year

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

The future is cash-free. 

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

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

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

Economic and governmental agencies are interested in cryptocurrencies. 

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

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

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

Cryptocurrency is showing growth of the asset class. 

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

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

Blockchain will be business-ready. 

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

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

The need for future potential. 

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

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

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

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/5-reasons-why-blockchain-will-become-mainstream-this-year/

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How a 6 Month Holiday can Save 400 Million Jobs

800 million jobs could be gone by 2030.

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

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

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

The 6 month off – 6 month on approach.

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

Not viable for all jobs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

An interesting point of view from Jack Ma, Alibaba Group

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/how-a-6-month-holiday-can-save-400-million-jobs/

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Digital Turns Physical: AR, Haptic, Users Touch Cyberspace

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

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

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

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

Interventions In Ecommerce.

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

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

Obsess And Youvisit: AR In Action For Ecommerce.

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

This technology can provide immersive shopping.

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

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

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

Gaming, Engagement, And The Element Of Fun.

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

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

Not all AR draws on haptics.

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

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

What’s Next In AR, VR, And Haptics?

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

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

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

How far is Lofelt taking these haptics innovations?

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

Creating actual sensation. 

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/digital-turns-physical-ar-haptic-users-touch-cyberspace/

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Your Home-Based Startup: Tips To Thrive

Starting a Business is Easier With Today’s Technology.

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

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

Schedule Your Day Meticulously .

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

Use An Address Other Than Your Home.

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

Work Outside of the Home Once or Twice a Week.

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

Continuously Sell To Help Replace Customers Leaving.

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

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

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

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/your-home-based-startup-tips-to-thrive/

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Creating Lead Generation, Product and Sales the Easy Way

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

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

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

A learning phase.

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

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

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

The competitive business world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/creating-lead-generation-product-and-sales-the-easy-way/

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The Story of Building Tesla: With Marc Tarpenning of Tesla and Shernaz Daver of GV

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

The Big Think Idea

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

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

Looking for Investment Money

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

Creating the Tech

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

The VC’s in the Tesla

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

Elon Musk

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

Fast Forward Ten Years

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

Meaning and Solutions

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

Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/the-story-of-building-tesla-with-marc-tarpenning-of-tesla-and-shernaz-daver-of-gv/

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