January 28th, 2013 | Filed under: Customer Experience | No Comments »
From traditional management consultancies to boutique design firms, everyone seems to acknowledge the role customer experience plays as a point of differentiation in today’s increasingly competitive landscape. For the most part, thought leaders agree that customer experience management requires leadership alignment in order to foster a consumer-centric organization, as well as tools and processes to continuously measure and refine the customer experience. However, the key element that seems to be missing in today’s literature around this topic is how to actually design the customer experience.
So, how does one actually go about designing a compelling customer experience that builds a loyal fan base, provides a layer of differentiation and drives revenue growth? Ask a startup founder.
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January 6th, 2012 | Filed under: Motiv | No Comments »
Two startups have caught my eye recently. While they don’t have big names yet, you can expect that to change quickly.
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December 12th, 2011 | Filed under: Motiv | No Comments »
Greetings readers, and welcome to a new monthly blog series where I will discuss all things ‘startup’ – from venture capital resources to analyses of innovative companies that I think are truly disrupting their industries, or creating entirely new ones.
I wanted to start by introducing two companies that I recently discovered, both of which leverage technology to simplify consumers’ lives and literally “put the internet to work for you”: ShopSavvy and ifttt.
ShopSavvy, a free smartphone application introduced in September 2008 by Dallas-based idea factory Big in Japan, allows users to do comparative shopping on the go. The application, which is available on Android, Windows Mobile and Apple’s iOS systems, uses smartphones’ cameras, the internet, and geolocation services to identify products and inform shoppers where they can find those products online or locally. The app can read traditional barcodes as well as QR codes, and has a slew of features that allow users to add photos and prices, post reviews, share products via various channels, stream deals aggregated from the web and other ShopSavvy users, and check the availability of products at local retailers.
After using the application for a few weeks, I have been amazed by its potential to change the way consumers shop and its broader impact on B2C product-centric business models. Especially during such times of economic uncertainty, consumers are increasingly arming themselves with information to make smarter purchasing decisions, and ShopSavvy provides a clearly defined benefit in the form of immediate savings. For merchants, however, the application is more of a direct affront to profit margins, as they must become more aware of and responsive to competitors’ pricing schemes – a challenge that is especially daunting to smaller, less flexible retailers who cannot purchase on the scale of larger, big-box competitors. Continue Reading»
November 16th, 2011 | Filed under: Motiv | No Comments »
When you hear the name Washington, DC, what comes to mind? The White House? The Capitol? The Pentagon? They probably should–not only is DC home to some of the most recognizable government buildings in the world, but the US government is also the single largest employer of DC residents. In total, 38% of DCers work for the government, and many others work for government contractors, big law firms and non-profit associations. So where do private businesses fit into the mix and what does AOL, a tired, old dialup internet provider have anything to do with the scene?
The truth is that Motiv’s location in DC makes us somewhat of an anomaly. Many of our competitors choose to be in places like New York, San Francisco or Chicago – business “hubs” that are also vibrant centers of education, culture and innovation. At times, I feel a bit isolated in DC, as there are few others who speak the same language, but recently things have been changing and I think DC is on the cusp of a revolution of innovation and startup activity.
Leading the charge is Living Social, the daily deals site now valued at $3 billion based on recent rounds of VC funding. Living Social’s 29 year-old CEO, Tim O’ Shaughnessy, cut his teeth at… you guessed it, AOL. After graduating from Georgetown University, he managed product launches at AOL before moving on to lead the consumer products team at Revolution, a DC-based VC/PE fund started by AOL Billionaires Steve Case and Ted Leonsis. In fact, Revolution is not the only local fund focused on the DC area, GroTech Ventures has made a similar commitment to local innovative startups too. Continue Reading»
October 26th, 2011 | Filed under: Motiv | No Comments »
Leonardo DiCaprio at Mobli's office (Image via Mashable)
A hallmark of American culture has been the extent to which we have been able to squeeze every dollar of celebrity out of our star athletes, musicians and entertainers. From the eponymous Air Jordans to Joe Namath’s 1974 advertisement for hosiery and Britney Spears’ perfume, merchandise and endorsements have been a great way for stars to supplement their (and their agents’) incomes, and expand their marketing reach.
A more interesting phenomenon as of late has been the foray of celebrities into the world of Venture Capital. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher are some of the biggest names to handover cash to promising startups, but other notable stars such as MC Hammer and even tween heartthrob Justin Bieber are reported to be scratching their entrepreneurial itch by way of VC investments. Can you imagine the Silicon Valley headlines? “It’s not a bubble, it’s Bieber Fever!”
Are Kutcher and DiCaprio really as adept at identifying emerging technologies and talented entrepreneurs as the veterans at Kleiner Perkins and Andreesson Horowitz? I doubt they can model cash flows or advise on go-to-market strategies as well as the true VC players can, but apparently the Ven”star” Capitalists are doing fairly well for themselves. Kutcher, through his investment partnership called A Grade, was an early investor in such hot startups as Foursquare, Path and Flipboard, and was even part of a group that bought Skype in 2009 before selling it to Microsoft in April for more than three times the purchase amount. Yesterday, social video and photo platform Mobli announced that Leonardo DiCaprio was one of a handful of investors that had participated in its latest round of funding – a $4 million seed round – and in April, MC Hammer announced he was joining as an investor/mentor in a tech incubator in Silicon Valley called NewMe. Continue Reading»
October 3rd, 2011 | Filed under: Motiv | No Comments »
Last week, I attended the second annual Digital East conference in Tyson’s corner. The two-day event, attended by digital executives, senior marketers, entrepreneurs, web strategists, bloggers, investors and consultants such as myself, explored the latest innovations and trends in the social media, mobile, cloud, analytics, e-commerce and online advertising worlds, among others. Panels and presentations were often peppered with subtle sales pitches and data points highlighting explosive growth and success of various companies, but the two things that struck me as the biggest takeaways were the acknowledgement of a shift from anonymous online profiles and strictly digital engagement towards real-world, local relationships, as well as an emphasis on creating compelling customer experiences.
“Can’t we use technology for something better than a coupon?” asked a Gowalla developer. In his presentation titled “Telling Better Stories”, Gowalla’s Director of Business Development, Andy Ellwood, discussed a macro shift “from relevance to relationships” that is driving change in the industry. The internet and technological innovations allowed us to create a thriving digital world, but now we see a resurging interest in engaging in the real world around us, enabled by powerful mobile devices, geo-location services, and creative – albeit unproven – business models. Continue Reading»
August 15th, 2011 | Filed under: Motiv | No Comments »
I love to send handwritten cards and letters as much as I love to receive them. I love good stationery, the handwriting of my loved ones and my collection of cards and letters that mark the special occasions in my life and the memories they created among family and friends. This is the true essence of the snail mail experience – and like seeing art live at a museum or tasting food at the table of a great chef, one that technology alone could never replace. The true value of the snail mail system isn’t really its ability to get mail to you more quickly, more cheaply or more conveniently.
Those benefits are important, but the system’s real value is facilitating the sharing and exchange of personal stories through a handcrafted and even hand-made medium that for centuries has been as essential to the human experience as breathing. I think we can all agree – receiving an emailed, or worse texted, thank you note is just not the same as receiving a hand-written card. Love letters sent through Facebook just don’t make me swoon.
The turbulent times and economic threat to our US Postal System concern me, but I am reassured through consumer behavior that the intangible and tangible, the technology-enabled and the hard copy, will share a symbiotic relationship and reinforce the importance each holds. Books are still being purchased among people who love e-readers. Bikes are still ridden among even the most vehicle-centric. The computer programmer might still keep a daily journal. And the desire to use technology to facilitate the art of the hand-written letter shows that we believe the system still holds real value. Here are a few interesting examples that I believe had a more innovative US Postal System developed on its own, might have led to a future-forward, sustainable revenue model:
August 5th, 2011 | Filed under: Motiv | No Comments »
From two political parties working together in Washington to the unusual split of Kraft into two companies, there was a lot to keep up with this week. Rather than weighing in on the negativity around the political debate, we chose to focus our attention on all the positive things going on in the world of startups. Here are some of the most interesting things we came across this week:
•Want to support businesses started by entrepreneurs 30 years old and younger? Nonprofit Our Time aggregates daily deals from businesses started by young entrepreneurs.
•A survey of 550 startup staffers completed by the folks at BestVendor revealed Google’s dominance in the realm of web and business tools used by startups (see who else makes popular tools here: http://motv.st/oMMi8Z)
•How do you tell your boss that you are leaving to join a startup company? Quora members weigh in here.
•It seems that everyone within ten feet of a word processor has a few words of wisdom for entrepreneurs and startup companies, but we think that Paul Graham’s essays are easily some of the most informative, relevant, and enlightening.