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Thursday, January 10, 2019

It's Time to Rethink the Corporate Pyramid

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/10/2019

I have long thought movie stars and sports heroes were drastically overpaid in comparison to their contributions to society. For example...



I have long thought movie stars and sports heroes were drastically overpaid in comparison to their contributions to society. For example, teachers are teaching future generations of kids, and get paid pennies in comparison. And, even well paid doctors, saving lives, are paid a small fraction of what an NBA star gets paid to simply play the game of basketball.

In the last decade, these inequalities are starting to be seen in corporate workplace, as well, with ever rising CEO pay and mid-level jobs under siege due to outsourcing and technology automation. I think we need to rethink the traditional pyramid shaped organizational structure to “right size” the work completed vs. compensation paid equation.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

[PODCAST] George Deeb Presents Startup Sales Strategies on Best Selling Podcast

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/09/2019

This week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Vince Beese, a B2B sales expert at Sales@Scale  who produces their Best Selling Pod...


This week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Vince Beese, a B2B sales expert at Sales@Scale who produces their Best Selling Podcast, ripe with sales learnings for businesses.  You can listen to our discussion about sales strategies for startups at this link.  Thanks, Vince, for including me in your podcast.  I had a ton of fun.


For future posts, follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.  And, follow Vince at @VinceBeese.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Lesson #306: Startup Ecosystems Accelerate Success--Why Bigtincan Relocated from Australia to the U.S.

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/04/2019

I was recently introduced to David Keane , CEO at Bigtincan , an AI-powered sales enablement platform founded in 2012 and now publicly t...



I was recently introduced to David Keane, CEO at Bigtincan, an AI-powered sales enablement platform founded in 2012 and now publicly trading on the Australian Securities Exchange with a $60MM market capitalization.  I learned his story on how he relocated his business from Australia to Boston to give his business a higher likelihood of scaling revenues and startup success.  Since relocating the business to Boston in 2013, the company has seen consistent annual growth in excess of 45% per year (with sales of $13 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018).  In my interview with David, he shared many of the key differences between the U.S. and Australia startup ecosystems, that I thought was worth sharing with all of you.  And, I think this serves as a great case study of how the health of the startup ecosystem you work in, can help or hurt your success.

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WHY MOVE FROM AUSTRALIA TO THE U.S.


After listing Bigtincan on the Australian Stock Exchange, we realized to continue to grow the organization, we needed to expand outside of our current market. As the biggest global economy, the United States was the obvious choice in order to create more opportunities across the world and be part of the open economy. Without the capital, the market or the customers we needed to succeed in Australia, you reach a plateau where you cannot grow anymore unless you expand to a new market, which is what drove Bigtincan to move outside of Australia. We also wanted to expand our customer base globally, especially within the United States, and having that in-market presence was increasingly important to build these relationships. 

SUMMARIZE THE AUSTRALIA STARTUP ECOSYSTEM LEFT BEHIND

The Australian startup ecosystem exists, but it is not as established as the United States. Australia is a developed country with English speaking people and great education along with good government programs that support entrepreneurs and startups. Without Google, Apple and Amazon to compete for resources with, so many startups have the luxury to regularly employ PhD-level graduates with data science experience.  However, despite the sun, beach and a strong talent pool, there is no significant source of venture capital and the overall business ecosystem is not as prolific or mature. 

WHY BOSTON VS. OTHER U.S. CITIES

When determining where to put down roots for Bigtincan, Boston felt a lot more established than San Francisco or even somewhere like Austin, Texas where the business landscape is still very young. The Eastern seaboard still remains a business hub with a heavy industrial focus as opposed to the pure software technology and social network-based companies of the Silicon Valley. Boston itself has decades of experience in both hardware and software and the infrastructure like Internet and fiberoptic to support continued growth. Boston also offers numerous support agencies like public relations firms, capital management groups and marketing agencies that can help companies in the area get started.

Another challenge with Silicon Valley is that the talent market is highly competitive. With new companies and opportunities constantly springing up, you often watch employees leave for next big thing whether it’s a Facebook, Uber or Google. Boston has been churning out superior business and technology hires for decades with a number of the top colleges and universities residing within, or just outside, the city limits. This gives us a huge opportunity to source young, smart employees where they are already residing. A successful enterprise cannot be built alone, overnight – you need to have long term partners and talent to help build great companies.

HOW HAS THE U.S. COMPARED TO AUSTRALIA

When moving from Australia to the United States, you realize pretty quickly the cultural differences between the two countries – and even within the US – which yield varying approaches to business and the global market. In the US you have the big guys like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple dominating the tech market, making it harder and harder to stand out if you have something special.

Today's organizations need to think globally and build a more diverse base than enterprises have before. For Bigtincan, Australia was a good place to start, but the entry into the US market has really allowed us to grow. During this process, you quickly realize the cultural differences in another country. Not only did that present a challenge but learning the nuances of the different regions in the United States (Southern hospitality vs. laid-back Californian-style) did take some getting used to. This ultimately helped us establish what locations made sense to house the various teams – sales, marketing, engineers – and determine the location of our U.S. headquarters.

HOW DID YOUR BUSINESS IMPROVE AFTER THE MOVE

No doubt moving Bigtincan from Australia to the United States was the right thing to do for us. It was a wonderful experience to go through and enabled Bigtincan to be successful. Since 2013 the company has seen consistent 45 percent year-over-year growth, which would not have been possible if we had not moved into a bigger market. So many smaller companies and startups don't make it because they neglect to fight in the big markets, where there are more opportunities.

The only way to determine whether an organization fails or succeeds is to have two feet in right from the beginning. Our goal was not just to move to the United States, but truly become a U.S. company - to act and feel like a U.S. based startup. Now that 98% of our revenue now comes from U.S. customers, we truly believe we attained our initial goal.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS

So, the morale of the story here; if you find yourself operating in a city or country that does not have a robust startup ecosystem that can help propel your business to new heights, maybe it is time to consider moving your business to a better location.  Whether that is from a foreign country to the U.S. (or vice versa), or from a smaller U.S. startup market to a bigger U.S. startup market, there are plenty of learnings in this Bigtincan case study that proves where you locate your business really does matter.  Thanks David for all your insights here, it was great learning your story.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.


Friday, December 21, 2018

How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Marketing

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/21/2018

I have been an avid reader of the  Marketing Insider Group  blog for a while now, and read this great post on 6 Examples of AI Marketi...



I have been an avid reader of the Marketing Insider Group blog for a while now, and read this great post on 6 Examples of AI Marketing by Michael Brenner, a CMO influencer whose work has been featured in many national business publications.  The topic of artificial intelligence and how it is changing human workflows has been interesting to me.  And, this specific post speaks to how artificial intelligence is changing the marketing world, a topic that is directly related to our day-to-day marketing roles.  I asked Michael if I could republish this post on the Red Rocket Blog as a guest post, and he was kind enough to let me share it with all of you.  Thanks, Michael!  I hope you all enjoy this great piece on how technology is taking marketing to the next level.

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Technology is evolving and the world of online marketing is evolving along with it. Artificial intelligence and machine learning now make a wide variety of marketing tasks easy; even those which would have been impossible only a few years ago.
We’re still in the very early stages of using AI in marketing but even so, there are some impressive applications that are already available and in use today.
Here are just a few examples of how AI is currently being used in digital marketing.

PERSONALISED RECOMMENDATIONS

Most people will already be familiar with the tailored recommendations that are offered when you log into a site like Amazon or Netflix.
These recommendation engines have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, and can be startlingly accurate, particularly for users who have had an account for several years so the service has been able to collect lots of data.
For example, Amazon has a record of:
  • Every purchase you’ve ever made
  • Your product browsing history
  • The addresses you’ve lived and worked at
  • Items you’ve wished for
  • TV shows and music you’ve played
  • Apps you’ve downloaded
  • Product ratings you’ve made and reviews you’ve left
  • Devices you’ve used to watch movies or download ebooks
  • Everything you’ve asked Alexa if you have an Echo
It can use this information to deliver product recommendations based on your interests, past purchases, and what other people have purchased who also bought the same items as you.
For example, if you’ve previously bought a printer then Amazon is quite likely to recommend you print cartridges and paper. If you’re expecting a baby and you’ve ordered stretch mark cream and pre-natal vitamins, don’t be surprised if baby clothes and toys start popping up in your recommended products.
All this is powered by an AI framework called DSSTNE that has been released as open source software to improve its deep learning capabilities.

DYNAMIC PRICING

Providing discounts is a surefire way to increase sales, but some customers will buy with a smaller discount, or if there is no discount at all.
AI can be used to set the price of products dynamically depending on demand, availability, customer profiles, and other factors to maximize both sales and profits.
You can see dynamic pricing in action using the website camelcamelcamel.com, which tracks the price of Amazon products over time. Each product has a graph showing just how much the pricing fluctuates depending on season, popularity, and other factors.
If you’ve ever searched for a flight and then gone back to buy it a couple of days later only to find it’s gone up a few hundred dollars, this is also a good example of dynamic pricing at work.

CUSTOMER SERVICE CHATBOTS

Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and other messaging apps have become a popular and convenient way for customers to contact companies, but ensuring the accounts are constantly staffed with customer service agents can be expensive.
To reduce the workload and provide a faster response to customers, some organizations are now using chatbots to deal with common customer queries and provide instant replies at any time of the day or night.
With virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana, we’re getting more comfortable with chatbots and in some cases even preferring them to a real person.
Chatbots can be programmed to provide set replies to frequently asked questions and to direct the conversation to a human agent if the question is too complex. This means that customer service time is reduced and the workload lifted, leaving the agents free to deal with conversations that need a more personal response.


CONTENT GENERATION

Machine generated content has been around for quite a while but the first unsophisticated attempts were pretty unreadable – they may have fooled the search engines (temporarily) but not humans.
AI for content creation has now become incredibly sophisticated to the point where Stylist magazine published three automatically generated articles created by Articoolo in its special “Robots” edition.
Automated content software is now able to generate news stories and reports in a matter of seconds that would take a human writer hours or days to create.
Even if you don’t trust machines to take over your content creation process entirely, they’re still useful for smaller tasks like generating your social media posts. The Washington Post uses in-house reporting technology called Heliograf to write basic social media posts and news stories.
Computers are also pretty good at coming up with formulaic headlines, particularly those that can be classed as “clickbait”.

SEARCH

Search algorithms are improving all the time in every aspect from small database product searches on ecommerce sites to search engines like Google that are used by millions of people every day.
Integrating AI into search can pick up misspellings and suggesting alternatives (“did you mean…”) and may be influenced by your past browsing or shopping behavior.
Google is becoming increasingly sophisticated at working out searcher “intent” For example if someone searches for “Apple” are they looking for information about the fruit, the technology company, or the record label?
Most search engines know if a user is on their mobile phone and searching for “coffee shops” they’re looking for a coffee shop within a few miles, rather than researching coffee shops in general.
Special results such as shopping and Google My Business results are also providing a better user experience for searchers, and voice search is becoming more commonplace as the number of AI-powered devices and assistants continues to grow.

AD OPTIMISATION

A/B testing is the traditional approach to optimizing marketing messages and display ads, but it’s a painstaking process with an infinite number of variables to try out, and therefore takes up a lot of time and resources.
With AI algorithms you can continually and automatically optimize your ads depending on conversions and interactions.
AI ad optimization is already in use on social networks such as Instagram. Algorithms analyze the accounts that a particular user is following and will show the ads most likely to be relevant to this user. This provides a better experience to the user and a better ROI for the advertiser as fewer ads are shown to people who aren’t interested in them.
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For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at @georgedeeb and Michael at @brennermichael.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses Startup Incubators and Accelerators on ASBN

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/20/2018

I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small...


I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about the pluses and minuses of startup incubators and accelerators.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it all with you, to help you determine if startup incubators and accelerators are right for you.  I hope you like!!


The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.


For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Red Rocket's Best Startups of 2018

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/12/2018

Red Rocket gets introduced to hundreds of startups each year, in the normal course of doing business, or via our involvement with variou...



Red Rocket gets introduced to hundreds of startups each year, in the normal course of doing business, or via our involvement with various startup groups or events.  We wanted to honor the best of these startups that we met in 2018, in Red Rocket's 7th Annual "Best Startups of the Year".  This list is not intended to be an all-encompassing best startups list, as there are many additional great startups that we are not personally exposed to each year.  And, this list is not intended to be only for businesses that launched in 2018, it is open to startups of any age, that they or their advisors had some personal interaction with us in the last 12 months.  The business simply needed to have a good idea, good team or good traction, that caught our attention.  Congrats to you all!!


THE BEST STARTUPS OF 2018 (in alphabetical order):

Crowdstaffing (CEO, Sunil Bagai) - B2B on-demand talent platform

Direct (CEO, Wes Smithe) - B2B vacation rental management platform

Exit 7C (CEO, Blessing Egbon) - B2C gasoline on demand

FanFood (CEO, Carson Goodale) - B2C in-stadium food ordering app

Farmer's Fridge (CEO, Luke Saunders) - B2C fresh meal vending machines

Furtrieve (CEO, Jordan Hetlund) - B2C smart tracking collars for pets

Garcon (CEO, Nick Miller-Sanchez) - B2B at-restaurant-table ordering and payment app

GiftCrowd (CEO, Eshed Doni) - B2C group gifting platform via PTAs

Goodwell Co. (CEO, Patrick Triato) - B2C non-electric motorized toothbrush

Lampix (CEO, George Alex Popescu) - B2B table top augmented reality platform

Levitate (CEO, Jesse Lipson) - B2B word-of-mouth marketing platform

ProsRent (CEO, John Clark) - B2B construction equipment rentals marketplace

Pryon (CEO, Igor Jablokov) - B2B augmented intelligence platform for enterprise

Reozom (CEO, Jason Tibble) -  B2B real estate sales platform without commissions

RewardStock (CEO, Jonathan Hayes) - B2C awards travel optimization platform

RoomZoom (CEO, Elien Becque) - B2C roommate matching platform

SceneSave (CEO, Meghan Hoover) - B2C shop your favorite television shows

Stride Travel (CEO, Gavin Delany) - B2C adventure travel booking platform

Unpakt (CEO, Adam Doron) - B2C marketplace for mover quotes

Voyajoy (CEO, Diana Thai) - B2B rental listing management & marketing platform



And, don't forget to check out the 2012 winners, 2013 winners, 2014 winners, 2015 winners, 2016 winners and 2017 winners, many of whom continue to be doing great things.


Congratulations to you all!!  Keep up the good work.


For future posts, please follow us at: @RedRocketVC



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