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Wearable Computing Round-up

April 17, 2013

The “Glassholes” – see below

Yesterday BI Intelligence released Wearable Computing: From Fitness Bands To Smart Eyewear, A New Mobile Market Takes Shape.  It’s a great roundup of the space that includes growth projections, categories, current consumer awareness, and barriers to adoption.

Overall consumer awareness is still low.

Speculation on the future market for wearable devices is a confusing mix of skepticism and hype.

Different categories of wearables are at different stages of consumer adoption. One category of devices — fitness and health-oriented smart bracelets — have already gained wide acceptance among consumers.

  • Despite tech press and crowdfunding enthusiasm for products like the Pebble smartwatch, it is not clear that the consumer mainstream will take to Internet-connected watches.
  • Google Glass and other eyewear devices are still moonshots — albeit with great potential in areas ranging from advertising to gaming and photography.
If you are in or near the space, this report is worth a close look.  If not, here’s the report’s bottom line:
  • Smart fitness bands and medical bracelets are well on their way to becoming mainstream connected devices. They excel at a variety of applications — from glucose monitoring for diabetics, to tracking the workouts of fitness buffs — and are already generating significant revenue for manufacturers and app developers.
  • Smartwatches are more obtrusive and likely won’t have anywhere near the mass appeal of smartphones and tablets. That said, smartwatches that double as fitness bands — basically, fitness bands with a time display — will likely do well.
  • Until designs improve, it’s unlikely that consumers will take to eyewear devices like Google Glass, given their strange appearance.
  • Augmented-reality eyewear does hold out the promise of a new environment for immersive marketing and ad campaigns. We expect large advertising and media organizations to push Google Glass and similar devices.

Agree with the conclusions or not, some very smart –in fact, visionary– investors are making big bets on Google Glass.  Click here and here to read about the “Glassholes”.  Like we first saw with the iPhone ecosystem, followed by Android, as useful apps become available, mobile eyewear will offer transformative experiences and the ‘look’ will quickly be irrelevant or perhaps become a cool status symbol.  And designs will evolve rapidly.

One area of profound concern associated with Google Glass, its terms of service and the legality of who owes the content of public spaces.  This piece breaks the issue down in all its glory.  It aint pretty.

We are watching this space with eager anticipation.  Are you?  What do you think?

Nobody Likes Your Idea… Until Everybody Else Does…

April 14, 2013

Running around in the startup space for over 15 years, I’ve noticed a universal truism when it comes to articulating new ideas:  95-100% of the people you need to convince that it’s a good one don’t agree…  until they do.  Much of this skepticism is justified.  Most startups fail and a lot of startup ideas do suck!

But our experience is that the glass is perpetually half-empty when it comes to your audience, especially if they are sources of capital, and how they evaluate prospects for your new ideas.

New Market Entrepreneurs need to possess the courage of their convictions to move heaven and earth on their own to prove their idea has merit.  It is a hard, lonely and risky crusade.

You are not alone.  Our good friend @robustus sent this summary along (in support of Bitcoin) that perfectly illustrates what we are talking about.  It’s viewable in a pretty slide show here listing The 18 Most “Ridiculous” (at first) Startup Ideas That Eventually Became Successful.  Here are a dozen…

Google
We are building the world’s 20th search engine at a time when most of the others have been abandoned as commoditized money-losers. We’ll strip out all of the ad-supported news and portal features so you won’t be distracted from using the free search stuff.

Amazon
We’ll sell books online, even though users are still scared to use credit cards on the web. Their shipping costs will eat up any money they save. They’ll do it for the convenience, even though they have to wait a week for the book

Facebook
The world needs yet another Myspace or Friendster, except several years late. We’ll only open it up to a few thousand overworked, anti-social Ivy Leaguers. Everyone else will then join since Harvard students are so cool.

Twitter

It is like email, SMS or RSS. Except it does a lot less. It will be used mostly by geeks at first, followed by Britney Spears and Charlie Sheen.

Instagram
Filters! That’s right, we got filters!

PayPal

People will use their insecure AOL and Yahoo email addresses to pay each other real money, backed by a non-bank with a cute name run by 20-somethings.

LinkedIn

How about a professional social network, aimed at busy 30- and 40-somethings. They will use it once every 5 years when they go job searching.

Mint
Give us all of your bank, brokerage, and credit card information. We’ll give it back to you with nice fonts. To make you feel richer, we’ll make them green.

Dropbox
We are going to build a file sharing and syncing solution when the market has a dozen of them that no one uses, supported by big companies like Microsoft. It will only do one thing well, and you’ll have to move all of your content to use it.

iOS
A brand new operating system that doesn’t run a single one of the millions of applications that have been developed for Mac OS, Windows, or Linux. Only Apple can build apps for it. It won’t have cut and paste.

GitHub
Software engineers will pay monthly fees for the rest of their lives in order to create free software out of other free software!

Firefox
We are going to build a better web browser, even though 90 percent of the world’s computers already have a free one built in. One guy will do most of the work.

See the others in an annoying slideshow

Bitcoin Wonder and Awe (updated)

April 3, 2013

If you’ve been paying attention, New Market Entrepreneurs can’t help but to be in awe of the phenomenon called Bitcoin.  This chart alone should get your attention:

Bitcoin Market Cap on 4/3/2013 7:05 EDT

Bitcoin Market Cap on 4/3/2013 7:05 ED

Don’t know about Bitcoin?  This is your entrepreneurial inner-voice:  CHECK IT OUT!

Whether a coincidental alignment of 1) early stage financial panic in Europe  and 2) right place/right time availability of a decentralized crypto-currency or the start of something big as a hedge or even an alternative to nearly every government on the planet pumping cash into their economies and debasing the future value of their currencies, we are not sure.   What we are sure about is that, like Mobile, like The-Internet-of-Things, like Wearable Computing, like 3D Printing and other emerging engines of New Market Entrepreneurial opportunism, you can now add bitcoin.   Bitcoin is not something you can master in 10 minutes.  It will take an hour or more to truly ‘get it’.  But here is an elevator pitch from the person who invented it:

[Bitcoin is] completely decentralized, with no central server or trusted parties, because everything is based on crypto proof instead of trust. The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts… With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third-party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless.

While the chart above is an attention grabber, it’s not the real source of wonder and awe.  As in all markets, manipulated or pure, crowd psychology will cause booms and busts.  Everybody expects wild swings in both directions as this nascent currency makes its way into the mainstream.

Here are some of the fundamental reasons why bitcoin is earning wonder and awe from New Market Entrepreneurs.  It has to do with the ability to transact frictionlessly, anonymously, in whatever denomination you wish (1,000,000 to .000,000,001) and in complete confidence that the value of your currency is protected from governmental hanky-panky.  We are already hearing a growing roar of buzz associated with startup opportunities associated with bringing 1-click-access to bitcoin to the masses.   This is something to at least watch.  If your New Market Entrepreneurship efforts involve web-based transactions, might want to better understand if bitcoin can become a business driver for your revenue model.

Here are some places to start:

  •  You can find good recent introductory coverage from mainstream media here and here
  • Here is a good deep-dive explanation.
  • Here is a +/- 30min radio interview with a NYC-based entrepreneur who founded a thriving bitcoin hub/exchange.  The interviewer asks most, if not all of the questions you probably have.
  • Here is a website dedicated to bitcoin that is ofttimes referenced by bitcoin enthusiasts.  And this Quora post rocks.
  • Last, but not least, last week the US Feds announced their plans to regulate cyber-currencies.  While not mentioning bitcoin by name, it’s clear bitcoin is now in their cross-hairs.

So have at it.  We have a feeling you will feel the sense of wonder and awe too…   either way, let us know what you think!

Update 5/6/13.  Overnight, this blopost was published by a VC who very clearly describes the nature of the bitcoin opportunity (from an infrastructure-buildout perspective) as a bet that this nascent currency moves closer to the mainstream.  By his calculation, 2 to 2.5X growth from where we are now will do it.  It’s worth a look.

All of these market-sizing analyses require a 2 to 2.5 order of magnitude increase over current levels. Those same metrics have shown a 1 to 1.5x order of magnitude increase in the last year, so it doesn’t stretch the imagination to think that it might be possible.

Mobilized World of Opportunities

March 18, 2013

In case you missed it, the juxtaposed photographs below started floating around last week. Two shots from a similar vantage point of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

The top photo is from 2005, two years before Apple’s launch of the iPhone spawned the smartphone and tablet era.  The bottom from last week.

Now’s about the time we should play the Sesame Street tune, “One of these things is not like the other…”

Saint Peter’s Square 2005 & 2013

 

It is nothing short of astounding how much our world has changed in 8 blink-of-an-eye years.

Opportunities for New Market Entrepreneurs are vast.   This blog has been sharing observations for quite some time on just a handful of the Brave New World New Market opportunities our wireless mobility has spawned; among them:  Internet-of-Things, SoLoMo, and Second Screen TV.

Then we happened upon the video below, an inspiring 5-min video montage prepared by the Associated Press entitled The Big Game 2.0: Are You Adapting?  The video connects the dots of the changing media world among news organizations, advertisers, social media, digital devices and sport events worldwide — and how all of the changes are resulting in quickly evolving content consumption habits.  It’s worth the look if you are interested in a glimpse of where it’s all headed.  While it depicts the mega-sports events like the 2012 Olympics and the Superbowl, we believe these global events are indicative of what’s happening at the local level as well.  Social, in-the-moment-sharing Second Screen sharing will become habitual among fans.  It’s just the beginning.

LaunchPad Company, Dazzmobile, Deploying at Nightclub & Bar Trade Show in Vegas this Week

March 15, 2013

It’s been a very busy couple of months for Dazzmobile, a LaunchPad-incubated mobile startup.

We are proud of our newest mobile solution for Jon Taffer’s Nightclub & Bar Show which hosts 30,000 owner/operators from the Nightclub&Bar industry in Vegas this week.   You may recognize Jon’s name, he is the star and executive producer of the hit TV show, Bar Rescue on the Spike network.  Heck, they even did a Superbowl ad!

Below are the app highlights.  Unfortunately, the app is only available if you are one of the lucky 30K registered show attendees.  Among its most unique features, features you wont see anywhere else in the event mobile marketplace, are the bevy of push-interactive games, trivia and quizzes.  And every action in the app is ‘gameified’ which means that attendees can compete for a great set of prizes.

Here are some screenshots highlighting a small sampling of the push interactive gaming and gameification:

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.23.49 PMScreen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.24.18 PM

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.30.54 PMScreen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.24.38 PM

If you’re interested in seeing a demo of this compelling mobile technology and to learn how we can help you raise the bar in both your audience engagement and your event P&L, click here to arrange for 30-min call.

Here’s the app overview as found on the NCB Show website here

About Dazzmobile

Dazzmobile offers a set of Software-as-a-Service Solutions to Event Organizers.   We do three things:  1) we deliver custom-branded mobile apps for events, 2) we offer technology & creative services to provide year-round longevity to these events and 3) we shine a BigData spotlight on events… which has always been a dark element of the Marketing/Sales process.  Dazzmobile powers conferences, tradeshows and meetings from 250 to 30,000 attendees for Corporations, Analyst firms, Trade Associations, and Trade Show/Event Promoters.  Our multi-screen mobile experiences uniquely delight and engage audiences by allowing them to connect, discover, learn and play before, during and after the event.   Learn more, including a 3 step video-demo tour at  www.dazzmobile.com.

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 8.18.59 AM

Do you have Entrepreneurship DNA?

February 14, 2013

We admire the work The Founder’s Institute is doing. They have set out to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and in three short years they’ve made great progress.

The Founder Institute is an early-stage startup accelerator and global launch network that helps entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring technology companies. Through a part-time four month program, existing and prospective founders can launch their dream company with expert training, feedback, and support from experienced startup CEOs – while not being required to quit their day job. Our unique Graduate Liquidity Pool also enables graduates and mentors to share in the equity upside of each class, creating local, teamwork-based ecosystems where great new businesses can flourish.

In just over three years of operation, the Founder Institute has helped launch over 650 companies across 39 cities and five continents – making us the world’s largest startup accelerator. Our goal is to “Globalize Silicon Valley” by launching 1,000 meaningful and enduring technology companies per year in over 50 cities worldwide.

The Founder Institute was founded in 2009 by serial entrepreneur Adeo Ressi, and is operated out of a small office in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Learn more about our model for Globalizing Silicon Valley through this infographic.

For the last three years, the Founder Institute has had its applicants perform a battery of personality and aptitude tests. Then it tracked those applicants — more than 15,000 test-takers as their startups launched. The goal: see if any personality traits could be matched to revenue growth and market traction. See the personality traits that most map to success here.

Source: visual.ly via Mike on Pinterest

Small Biz & Social Media: Helpful Interactive Chart

January 31, 2013

See what’s working and not working by industry, company size, region and even gender in this powerful and well-organized tool published by the Wall Street Journal.  Key take-way for us:  While Twitter is thriving in terms of red-hot growth, the small biz community has not yet figured out how to leverage it.  Click here to explore

Source: online.wsj.com via Mike on Pinterest

“The Spirit and Soul of the 21st Century Marketer”

December 21, 2012

Earlier today Forrester’s Marketing Tech analyst Lori Wizdo opined about Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua. It can be found here and is a must-read if you currently or plan to leverage tech as part of your marketing mix. But one passage really resonated with us:

Winner:  The spirit and soul of the 21st century B-2-B marketer.

The CMOs and marketing leaders I talk to all seriously get it.  They know they need to completely change their engagement model (what they used to call marketing) to be audience/buyer/customer centric.They know that driving sustained, predictable, profitable revenue growth means that lead value, velocity, and volumes are maximized; and that this has to be done more efficiently and effectively.  They get that this complex set of interrelated goals requires an integrated, holistic process automation approach that spans the marketing, sales, and service organizations of a B2B enterprise.   And they know they don’t have that.  They know they need to meet this tough challenge with a mixed automation toolkit that only makes a challenging job harder.  Hurray!   A knight in shining armor riding a white charger with bright red livery is coming to the rescue.

We love this passage for it reflects much of what we have been discussing over the past year,  in particular:

  • Engagement model is what marketing is all about
  • Marketers must deliver value as defined by “sustained, predictable, profitable revenue growth
  • The way to achieve the above is to manage a “integrated, holistic process automation approach that spans the marketing, sales, and service organizations”
  • This inherently recognizes the increasingly blurred distinction btw the Marketing, Sales and Customer Service functions in most companies.  It comes back to the concept of engagement where-ever they are in the non-linear funnel.

The only thing we would quibble with is the B2B distinction.   We feel this applies equally for B2C marketers.

Paid vs Earned vs Owned Media at-a-Glance

November 24, 2012

Looking for a device to help you visualize the new world of e/social marketing?

We love this graphic describing the interrelationship of Earned, Paid and Owned media as well as the disciplines that own each:

Venn and the Art of Social Media Management

by domlane. Browse more infographics.

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From The Obama Campaign: Big Data, Social Media and a Risky Bet.

November 9, 2012

Since we are all about winning new markets, we wanted to reflect on the President’s reelection tactics to see if there’s anything we might learn.

Creating awareness, interest, desire and action within your target market is job 1 in sales & marketing and Obama did it better because he won.  We’ve been piecing together unique things that set Obama’s campaign apart and found two stories, published over the past couple of days, that offer fascinating insight for New Market Entrepreneurs.

As the puzzle pieces are beginning to be assembled, this campaign, and– specifically– the marketing tactics it deployed will redefine the business of big-time politics.  It seems like politics is heading the way of  Wall Street… ‘gut decisions’ are being replaced by big data aided by sophisticated quant-jock models.  But as the story shared below will illuminate, none of it would have been possible if not for a gut, bet the house decision by our President re-elect.  Whether you are happy with the election outcome, or in deep despair, there is some great learning here.  {Update 11/10:  Please see the footnote at the end of this post describing new revelations concerning an epic tech-fail in the Romney camp}.

First, let’s start with the end result:  Mitt Romney and most Republican strategists never believed the polling numbers going into Tuesday’s election.  Rather than the neck and neck situation the blended polling suggested, they believed the prize was Romney’s.  In fact, it has been widely reported that Romney was so confident that he would win, he never prepared a concession speech.  But as election results began to come in Tuesday night, a dark fog of stunning despair set in.  The Obama turnout in key swing states far surpassed the Romney Camp’s expectations.  And key-market demographics came out in droves to support their man… in much bigger percentages than the Romney camp predicted in their worst-case scenarios.  To make matters worse, many supporters Romney was counting on never even showed up to vote.

The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. “It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser.

How did Obama do it?  Big Data, Social Media and a risky bet.

Let’s take a look at the first two, Big Data and Social Media.  Followers may recall this post back in June which observed that O was up to something big with social media.  In this post: Great Marketing Whether Or Not You Agree With The Message/Messenger we observed, “Simple messages.  Compelling images.  Clear calls to action.  All are the hallmark of strong web advertising.   Now, coupled with the marketing data machine we recently tweeted about, (story found here)… make no mistake, these ads are showing up with intentionality.  And we bet they are getting huge results.”

Actually, we had no idea.  It was bigger and cooler than we ever imagined.

Time Magazine’s 11/19 issue (I know, who reads Time?!), features a riveting account of the machine behind what we were observing in June.   Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win tells the story of “The Cave”, a sealed top-secret room filled with quant-jocks at Obama’s Chicago HQ, and how they used big data and social medial to identify their target market personas to will the election.  Some excerpts:

In Chicago, the campaign recruited a team of behavioral scientists to build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters. The ever-expanding list let the campaign find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night.

That allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances.

Exactly what that team of dozens of data crunchers was doing, however, was a closely held secret. “They are our nuclear codes,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt would say when asked about the efforts. Around the office, data-mining experiments were given mysterious code names such as Narwhal and Dreamcatcher. The team even worked at a remove from the rest of the campaign staff, setting up shop in a windowless room at the north end of the vast headquarters office. The “scientists” created regular briefings on their work for the President and top aides in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, but public details were in short supply as the campaign guarded what it believed to be its biggest institutional advantage over Mitt Romney’s campaign: its data.

On Nov. 4, a group of senior campaign advisers agreed to describe their cutting-edge efforts with TIME on the condition that they not be named and that the information not be published until after the winner was declared. What they revealed as they pulled back the curtain was a massive data effort that helped Obama raise $1 billion, remade the process of targeting TV ads and created detailed models of swing-state voters that could be used to increase the effectiveness of everything from phone calls and door knocks to direct mailings and social media.

A large portion of the cash raised online came through an intricate, metric-driven e-mail campaign in which dozens of fundraising appeals went out each day. Here again, data collection and analysis were paramount. Many of the e-mails sent to supporters were just tests, with different subject lines, senders and messages. Inside the campaign, there were office pools on which combination would raise the most money, and often the pools got it wrong. Michelle Obama’s e-mails performed best in the spring, and at times, campaign boss Messina performed better than Vice President Joe Biden. In many cases, the top performers raised 10 times as much money for the campaign as the underperformers.

Chicago discovered that people who signed up for the campaign’s Quick Donate program, which allowed repeat giving online or via text message without having to re-enter credit-card information, gave about four times as much as other donors. So the program was expanded and incentivized. By the end of October, Quick Donate had become a big part of the campaign’s messaging to supporters, and first-time donors were offered a free bumper sticker to sign up.

The magic tricks that opened wallets were then repurposed to turn out votes.

It was this database that helped steady campaign aides in October’s choppy waters, assuring them that most of the Ohioans in motion were not Obama backers but likely Romney supporters whom Romney had lost because of his September blunders. “We were much calmer than others,” said one of the officials. The polling and voter-contact data were processed and reprocessed nightly to account for every imaginable scenario. “We ran the election 66,000 times every night,” said a senior official, describing the computer simulations the campaign ran to figure out Obama’s odds of winning each swing state. “And every morning we got the spit-out — here are your chances of winning these states. And that is how we allocated resources.”

Read-more

Probably the most impressive of the “quants in the cave” many cutting edge tech tactics was the use of Facebook’s Open Graph (FOP) to their advantage.  We have written extensively about how the FOG is a secret weapon for marketers.   We believe Obama’s quants won him the election with it!  They were able to tap into a myriad of data  of supporters who downloaded the Obama Facebook app as well as their friends and cross reference this data with what they already knew from other databases to refine their marketing.

Online, the get-out-the-vote effort continued with a first-ever attempt at using Facebook on a mass scale to replicate the door-knocking efforts of field organizers. In the final weeks of the campaign, people who had downloaded an app were sent messages with pictures of their friends in swing states. They were told to click a button to automatically urge those targeted voters to take certain actions, such as registering to vote, voting early or getting to the polls. The campaign found that roughly 1 in 5 people contacted by a Facebook pal acted on the request, in large part because the message came from someone they knew.

The other story that will resonate with New Market Entrepreneurs ran the day after the election in the Wall Street Journal.  As entrepreneurs we make bets every day based on imperfect information.  This story lays out the facts behind a bet-the-house decision Obama was asked to make last Spring– and did– to spend almost the entire war chest against conventional wisdom) to go on the offensive to define Mitt Romney on their terms…

One Sunday in May, Mr. Messina, the manager of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, went to the president along with other top advisers and proposed an unorthodox strategy. The campaign, he said, wanted to spend heavily, starting immediately, on ads blasting away at Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The idea, explained to the president in a PowerPoint presentation in the Roosevelt Room, was to shape voters’ impressions with a heavy expenditure before Mr. Romney had the money to do it for himself. The plan defied conventional wisdom, which said a campaign should start slowly with a positive message and save money for the stretch run. And it could leave the president exposed later.

“If it doesn’t work, we’re not going to have enough money to go have a second theory in the fall,” Mr. Messina said, according to people in the meeting.

The president gave his approval. And within weeks the Obama campaign was blasting away in a late-spring offensive, forcing Mr. Romney to respond to charges about his business record and personal finances rather than making the president defend his record.

Mr. Obama won his re-election battle, amid persistent economic anxieties, in significant measure because of that bet on defining Mr. Romney early.

Read more–

Key take-aways…   Social media and big-data are changing everything.  While the Obama campaign had over a billion dollars to make it hum, New Market Entrepreneurs operating on lean budgets can take a similar approach and not break the bank.  If you aren’t, there’s probably an “Obama” in your market who is who will kick your butt!   Second, it’s ironic that even in these days of big-data-driven decisions, it still seems that many success stories have as at their essence a big bet based on a gut feeling.   Always trust your gut… especially when you have the best quant-jocks in the business making the recommendation!

Full disclosure:  I am one of those who is in deep despair over this election.  But I believe in giving credit where it is due. 
Update: 11/10-  Since publishing this post several accounts have surfaced regarding a Team-Romney project code-named Orca that appears to be the polar opposite of the ‘Quants-in-the-Cave’.  Read here, and here for well documented accounts of the Orca ‘mobile app that wasn’t’ and how it caused chaos on election day get out to vote efforts.

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