Yes, even content strategy can start at back end

NEW YORK—Is content strategy going to be more effective if you consider it part of back-end development? If companies think marketing is all after the website or app is done, they should really think again. More than ever, structure is essential to making content future-friendly.

Carrie Hane of Tanzen Consulting, who works in both front and back end, said developers appreciate it even more if a content strategist can communicate with them about how content should be structured on the back end. Hane spoke last December 7 at the Huge meetup at its offices in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Hane is an independent consultant who helps organizations increase income and decrease costs by rethinking how they create, manage and connect their content.

“You will take blocks of content and break them down into smaller chunks which can be reused, remixed, restyled, and repurposed as needed. With a detailed content model in place, you can plan for implementation in a content management system (CMS) and for display across all your target interfaces,” she said.

She outlines the benefits of having back-end content strategy through the following:

  • Takes content out of its silos
  • Atomizes content, so it can be reused, remixed, restyled
  • Makes content available for each channel device, audience segment
  • Put technology to work to deliver content
  • Focuses on author as user in the design of the CMS
  • Ensures extensibility and scalability
  • Future friendly – ready for whatever is next

Taking this further, she said structured content is cross-platform ready and robot-readable.

Semantic meaning and relationships stored in the database and expressed through the interface. With relationships held at data level, rather than just at page level, you can design interfaces that allow readers to explore the content many different ways.

The future-friendly approach, she said, looks at structure as a developer would—separating out the model, the various interface views, and controlling interactions. “Designing content-first ensures the interface design supports the content. Not only will this process better serve the users, it will allow content to be created in parallel with the design and implementation.”

“Designing future-friendly content means applying as much effort to planning and creating content structures as you would to designing interfaces,” she said.

Some UX designers may consider a site or app’s flow and neglect to think about content as part of an entire back-end strategy, which could help immeasurably in terms of managing content and marketing it properly. It’s time designers think that loren ipsum text has a purpose beyond just being a placeholder text.

Future of content remains: good (even live) storytelling

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–What’s the future of content? That was the topic at the NY Content Meetup last July 28 at Samsung Accelerator in midtown Manhattan. The title seems ominous — but it has to be. After all, there’s just too much content out there for everyone to consume–and for those in the business of providing content, less and less opportunities to monetize their content. One thing that will save content is good storytelling, despite some ugly realities.

“We’re in the midst of an audience rebellion,” Kirk Cheyfitz said as the moderator of an impressive panel of content marketers. He is the CEO and founder of Story Worldwide, a digital-first ad agency, which has integrated journalistic storytelling, with advertising to tell brands’ stories in every media channel. Cheyfitz has extensive experience in journalism and has started and runs various media agencies.

It’s true. No one wants to pay for content. Not only that, people also want control of what they see and hear. “To force people’s attention is over,” he added. It doesn’t help that people don’t get your content directly to your site anymore. Your content gets linked in, say, Twitter. There are fewer people actually going to sites as social networks have become the default place to go to for newsfeeds, even beyond personal cat postings. And if you think people will click on those banner ads, think again. And we haven’t even mentioned ad blockers.

In a panel of creative people in the content business, there’s always a way.

“Give them some value. Be the destination,” Cheyfitz said.

The youngest in the panel, Bailey Richardson, offered the future as “you being the TV network,” as she also points how Pop-Up Magazine is making journalists, even print journalists not used to the camera or radio, to broadcast the news themselves live. She was one of the early employees at Instagram, where she worked on the community team.

With Pop-Up’s “phone stories” (directly to you), the news becomes very personal, introducing emotion to the (experience).”

Richardson was joined by Jeff Gomez, founder at transmedia Starlight Runner, Mike Knowlton, president and founder at Murmur, a next-generation storytelling studio; Joanne Tombrakos, chief storyteller and business development consultant, and Matt Wellschlager, VP Marketing at Cerosdotcom, an interactive content marketing software company.

The free-flowing conversation resulted in some great insights and new terms on how you can push content that people will listen, read and watch.

  • Take on a micro-narrative approach
  • Where is Harry Potter now? (To stay relevant), it’s now in Lego Games  where it’s the gateway drug for young people go before they go to the (Harry Potter) books and movies
  • Content is the totality, what people are perceiving
  • Work on the Plurals — those who grew completely internet native
  • (Address) the different you in different social networks
  • Do superpositioning. (Example) is Black Lives Matter.
  • Make use of agile /lean development. See if you can fail faster (so you can recover faster)
  • The future of content? Check out why people think mobile wallets is the future.
  • “Listen” to your blind spots
  • Difference of actual story and content? Content is a photo, moments–not always the long narrative arc. Some are primed for content but are not stories

Social media experts: Start early on new social networks, reach out to influencers

NEW YORK–You won’t find a meetup that dissects each social network these days but last April 20, AlleyBoost did just that in its talk, “Social Media Done Right” featuring Courtney Spritzer, co-founder and COO of Socialfly; Jeongwoon Eun, founder of Tigerwon; and Pavel Konoplenko, co-founder and CEO of Spoiled Media at Workville near Times Square.

http://www.meetup.com/AlleyBoost/members/128386582/

On Facebook

  • If you are just starting on Facebook, use paid advertising as it’s hard now to grow organically
  • Tryt Blab.im hangout for Facebook
  • You need optimal time and frequency on Facebook
  • Only way to tell it’ working for you is by experimenting: Post one a or five times a day
  • Test ad buys worth $5 dollars a day
  • You might as well work with Facebook (as big as it is), not against it
  • Try Instant Articles
  • Start Facebook Live now
  • Post inspiring quotes
  • Video does well

On Twitter:

  • Still good for reaching to journalists and publications
  • Twitter is important for political figures
  • Twitter is becoming more of an aggregator
  • Twitter is good for breaking news
  • Used for complaining
  • Make use of Twitter’s Periscope for live streaming
  • Too noisy of a platform

On Instagram:

  • Try Instameets; communities in all those networks can be very big
  • When you do the ads, you can have your link
  • Any brand that is visual should be on Instagram
  • Fashion brands should be on Instagram
  • Use it as recruiting tool
  • Influencer marketing is good for instagram
  • With algorithm, (photo) can be curated better

On Snapchat

  • Influencers are active here
  • You will see more branded content
  • Use ghostcodes.com to find influencers on Snapchat
  • Snapchat videos are difficult  to discover
  • Snaps only take a brief period of time before they disappear
  • You can’t flaunt number of followers because there’s none, which means you can’t buy followers
  • It’s a whole new world for  cultural immersion

Overall:

  • You need content and influencer strategies
  • You need to adopt early to new social networks to have organic growth
  • You will want to test out that content against a  different audience
  • Always measure results
  • Looking to market to China? try Wechat
  • Good storytelling is a good way to sell your product
  • Use Periscope for live streaming events
  • Social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk uses all the different platforms
  • YouTube and Pinterest are still relevant

The meetup also had two presentations with Parisa Wang of Parisa NYC and Craig Ettinger, founder and CEO of Tastebud talking about their startups. Wang showcased her handbags, lining them up on the floor, as she talked about how each bag represented a story, from breakup to independence, in what she called a “relationship journey.”

Wang showed how one handbag’s clever conception; it can be slung on her arm, so “I can free my hand to hold his hand. She is launching a Kickstarter campaign in May to produce more of the bags pegged at $200 to $500.  

Ettinger opened his presentation by talking about how the US spends $60 billion in entertainment every year and how his iOS app, Tastebud, is about sharing their recommended entertainment choices–books, music, movies, podcasts.

“These are for people who like to sift through the entertainment haystack to find these needles, he said, referring to good entertainment selections. Tastebud filters feed and follows other tastemakers as well as read curated critics’ picks.

 

5 things you must know for effective content strategy

NEW YORK–At the Huge meetup last February 23 in Dumbo, Brooklyn, Kevin Nichols, renowned author of Enterprise Content Strategy and UX for Dummies, left the crowd wanting more only because he touched a nerve among content strategists who find that it’s not easy to pitch a content strategy in any organization used to instant results.

http://www.meetup.com/cs-nyc/events/228588778/

“The problem lies not just in understanding content as to be respected (for doing it),” he said adding that not many Fortune 500 companies are doing enterprise content strategies.

Making use of data like metrics and analytics may give it some respect, helping vet and validate the importance of content, as abstract as it may be for naysayers.

“People reward companies that invest in expected content experiences,” he said, citing how 20 percent of companies that were surveyed using a strong omnichannel approach have 89 percent customer retention rate and how 80 percent of those who don’t have only 33 percent retention rate.”

As Nichols tried to cram his book into a one-hour talk, Nichols covered several subjects.

The emphasis, he said, must be on eight basic phases of work–plan, assess, define, design, build, publish, measure/optimize and govern. “Continually measuring the optimizing the performance of content is essential to keep content relevant to consumers.”

On developing content strategy for enterprise, he suggests these five key takeaways: the consumer is always first; consumer experience needs to cross channels with strategy; operations and governance must feed consumer need and external realities; performance is everything and content experience requires a holistic approach.

Enterprise content strategy sets up and positions all content and tracks the consumer at each touch point, but it’s also about how it relies on performance and how it positions all content as business asset worthy of governance. He explained that the governance model is by committee like a visual style guide (produced by a team).

“Governance should incorporate cross-functional areas across the enterprise,” he said. The governance team can be individuals part of the brand, product, social, analytics, legal and technology departments working with those in strategy, operations, marketing, publishing, taxonomy and again, technology.

“Enterprise content performance defines future content priorities,” he said.

This was a valuable point that  Nichols raised, as sustained content campaigns is hard to sell to companies.

To better structure content, he listed the workflow as follows: (get) inputs, (hold) meeting and (produce) outputs.

In getting inputs, determine business needs, new products, new company, marketing campaigns, make content assessment, dig deep into industry insights and competitive trends; check analytics and metrics as well as sales data; generate new ideas from content teams and others; get inputs from users from their behavior or data.

After making sense of all these inputs, hold meeting quarterly or monthly with governance and content strategy in place. The participants should be the executive sponsor, governance members and content strategist.

The last workflow calls for prioritizing content areas– new content creation or archival of content, ideally with strategic intent, goals and high-level objectives as well as the identification of content owners, sponsor and shareholders in addition to alerting planning teams of new focus areas.

Efforts should include setting up content for success at all customer touchpoints.

In thinking of channels, Nichols could not stress user research enough, especially in building persona. Customer lifecycle requires journey mapping before content needs can be determined.

Quoting from emarketer reports, he said 46 percent of customers would purchase more if experiences were personalized.

“Put your consumer at the center of all content decisions — in omnichannels,” he said.

Brands that position content as its domain, or make an investment in setting up an operational model to support a holistic focus are emerging as leaders, according to him.

Nichols cited studies: 73 percent of marketers rate the impact of cross-channel interactions on conversion as “major”; 58 percent state cross-channel engagement as improving retention and 55 percent state cross channel ensures advocacy.

Grist for the tech mill: 2015 events from over 1,100 NY tech meetups

data-driven meetup-nov2015

By Dennis Clemente

There are more than 1,100 tech meetups in New York. Here’s a summary of what happened in one year from March to December 2015.

Instead of having the always selling mentality, Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer of Hubspot, suggests having an always-be-helping mentality. Roberge’s sales talk last December 17 at Enterprise Sales Meetup in midtown Manhattan was especially meaningful as it’s not too often you hear someone from a programming background lead sales teams. The topic, Sales Acceleration Formula, was the same title of his book based on his experience taking a job in sales at Hubspot and coming from a programming background.

It was not your typical meetup in the city. For one, it was scheduled on a Friday night last December 18 (most meetups in the city are from Monday to Thursday). Second, it was held at a store, the new Microsoft Flagship Store on the shopping district of Fifth Avenue. But the crowd trickled in to watch the presentation of devices at the meetup curiously billed “Understanding Live Video Streaming with Periscope and Meerkat.”

German startups Keeen, Favendo and Night Adivsors took turns demonstrating their platforms at the German Accelerator NY last December 15 at Rise NY.

Would you rely on Big Data or The Force? It was a Star Wars evening for the Data-Driven meetup last December 14 at Bloomberg, especially for Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight who sounded giddy using the epic fantasy flick as reference for his presentation. He was joined by Arcadia Data, MapR and Datameer.

”How do you make sense of any mess?” That was the first question information architect Abby Covert threw at the audience last December 10 at the Designers & Geeks meetup at the Spotify offices.

“Life’s too short to build something nobody wants,” says Ash Maurya in his talk last December 8 at We Work in Wall Street. Maurya is the acclaimed author of “Running Lean,” a concise guide that helps you take action in using lean startup and customer development principles. He was at We Work to present his ideas for scaling business–clearly a prelude to his upcoming book, “Scaling Lean.” For Maurya, the root cause of a startup’s problem is when solution is perceived as the product. “Your solution is not the product. Your business model is the product.”

Last Dec 9, Uncubed took the holiday season as an opportunity for startups like Moat to discuss their 2015 accomplishments and future plans at its offices in the Lower East Side. By 2016, Moat, an independent SaaS Marketing analytics firm focused on transforming online brand advertising through trusted measurement and analytics, will reportedly be the first third party to measure viewability on YouTube.

Last December 1, Hardware Meetup featured talks from the founders of Grove, OneDrop and Boxee at the Microsoft offices. Gabe Blanchet, CEO of Grove, showed how food lovers can grow food at home while–get this–fish swims below it. Yes, even it will fit in a cramped New York apartment.

How do you make data scientists more productive? Jeremy Achin has an answer for you. The current path to becoming a data scientist is based on learning statistics, programming and algorithms, then applying practical knowledge and practicing real world experience which can unfortunately take up a lot of time. Achin spoke with other presenters Josh Bloom of Wise.io, Alexi Le-Quoc, founder of Datadog and Haile Owusu, chief data scientist of Mashable at Data-Driven’s monthly meetup last November 16 at Bloomberg.

Moral rights versus individual rights. That’s the struggle the entertainment industry faces these days when individual rights have blurred the lines between individual ownership and what is other people’s content, the title of the breakfast forum hosted by Gotham Media last November 18 at the Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz at 40th Street on Madison Avenue.

What is Birchbox? In the city, most tech meetups always asks people by a show of hands, how many people have heard of Birchbox? Most of the nearly hundred people raised their hand. If you’re still wondering, what it is about, it’s this: Birchbox delivers monthly boxes of beauty or grooming samples, picked to match your profile. Last November 19, CTO Liz Crawford talked about her role and how the company operates at the NYC European Tech Meetup at Spotify’s roomy offices.

Last November 9, Coinvent held a whole-day tech startup fair with several startups and inspirational talks at the Metropolitan Avenue in Chelsea. Dog Parker was one of the most popular startups as it showed a “doghouse” that provides secure dog parking when you’re out and about in the city with your dog and you need to run an errand. Dog Parker partners with businesses to place Dog Parkers in front their stores.

Last November 3, Alley Boost held a half-day startup expo featuring more than 60 startups at La Venue on 12th Avenue, blocks away from the Javits Convention Center.

The future of event ticketing will have some kind of empowerment and engagement, according to Taku Harada, CEO and co-founder of Peatix who presented at last November 2 at the Japan NYC Startups at Pivotal Labs.

The NY Expo Business Conference held last October 27 at the Javits Center packs in hundreds of startups, not necessarily all online-based companies or early startups. Touted as the largest New York business conference event, it has exhibitions, seminars and free business consultations for an audience that’s not entirely from the city either.

Last October 14, OLC attended AngelCube NYC Demo Day at WeWork in SoHo. In classic WeWork fashion, it took less than a minute for us to be reminded that there was beer on tap (In addition to a cheese plate and an array of mini-burgers). WeWork’s creative space had a foosball table, a kitchenette disguised as a bar, and hanging light bulbs with exposed filament.

What is the real reason why Microsoft Ventures Accelerator can choose to fund your startup for $500,000 without equity? Not only that, you get work in its Seattle office and have what graduates say are great meals as you work on your startup there.

“It’s Tinder for doctors,” says Toby Hervey about his app, on-demand house-call doctors. He was one of the presenters that included Ulula, Kiddo App and Domain Skate last October 20 at the NY Tech Breakfast at Microsoft.

The second Korean Summit NYC last October 16 at the New Yorker Wyndham. featured several Korean startups with Charlie Kim, founder and CEO of Next Jump, and Murat Aktihanoglu, managing director of Entrepreneurs Roundtble Accelerator as main speakers.

Last October 14, the New York Tech Meetup brought back two of its most popular demos – Addicaid and Pager — to mark the launch of its new “Demo Deep Dive” event series in lower Manhattan.

Last October 12, Area 1 Security, Birchbox, Livefyre and Metamind, presented at the packed Data-Driven meetup at Bloomberg.

It’s seldom you hear honest talk about investors snoring soundly or checking their phones every so often when you’re pitching to them but the founders of these companies — Wayup, F Cubed, Manicube, getringly and ELOQUII — had those stories to share. What’s more unusual perhaps is how even those who they thought couldn’t care less were the ones interested in investing in them.

Last October 7, Devin Rogerino of Inc.com presented a talk on video creation or how to cost effectively enter the video creation community at the Wix lounge in Chelsea. Essentially, you need four things—ideation, inspiration, brainstorming, planning—before you even make your video, and let’s not forget how you have to know whether you need YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo.

Last September 30, Tech in Motion deviated from its usual show-and-tell meetup presentations for an exposition of startups with cocktails at Ainsworth Midtown East. The startups on exhibit were beGlammed, GoButler, FlyCleaners, Zeel and ZIRX, all riding on the popularity of uber and the way it’s propping up the sharing economy.

How do you become a digital nomad? If you care to listen to the speakers of Cafe Numerique (Beligan for digital), you’ll find out how the world is getting smaller the way people from all over the world are finding each other, doing business and sharing ideas.

Last September 17, the Brooklyn Borough Hall was the setting for the International Day, the last of the four-day international Transatlantic Entrepreneur (TEP) conference which brought together investors, entrepreneurs, media and policy makers from the US, Asia and Europe.

Scott Heiferman is perhaps the most unassuming CEO and co-founder you’ll ever meet in this city. For someone who runs one of the city’s earliest and most successful startups, meetup.com, which was formed 13 years ago, he still considers his company a startup. His company, he says, is older than most startups. It’s older than Google Maps, older than Facebook,– heck, older than Friendster and yet, he pauses to think if he’s still a startup.

Twitter’s Adam Sharp, Head of News, Government and Elections and Niketa Patel, News Partnerships Manager were the speakers at Conversations, a series of open discussion held by NY Daily News Innovation Lab, at Microsoft last September 9. It was also a way for Twitter to drum up support for its upcoming Project Lightning, a curated feed of tweets.

When every tech meetup seems to be covered at night, count NY Tech Breakfast counts on the early risers to come to its monthly event, now held at Microsoft for the second month. Last September 8, NY Tech Breakfast featured PolicyGenius, Proscape, TableSwipes and LawGo.

Last September 2, General Assembly held a talk featuring three companies offering online coding courses, One Month, Thinkful and Hopscotch at its offices in the Flatiron District.

The product challenges at the Product Council last August 31 were the digital clinic app offered by Maven Clinic and the new permissions level to be offered by JustWorks starting September 1. The meetup was held at the Pivotal Labs.

What is the future of media? The question may resonate the most among journalists and other media practitioners. After all, it’s their livelihood at stake. The answer in a word may be video, especially the way the panelists talked about how it is going very far and coming in. Even GoPro is reportedly adding some kind of news coverage.

On the second day of the Yahoo Developer Conference last August 26 at the Marriott, breakout sessions were held, with user acquisition as a topic attended by OLC. The key takeways: Developers have a three-month grace period to get sticky; get the app store experience right; app install ads work, but it’s important to talk to your users through a variety of marketing channels.

Is one percent better than zero or none at all? We’re not talking about the affluent in the United States, but if the one-percent effort or initiative that big companies dedicate to social impact is sufficient—or if it’s just a compromise, a public relations move. If you’re keeping up with the tech scene these days, you won’t hear Mock Series A Term Sheet Negotiations too often. It may be your first time to hear it, as we did, so we went to Orrick’s Total Access last August 24 at CBS to find out how it would unravel for us.

Tech meetup groups have taken most of the summer off, but Codecademy took the quiet time to hold an HTML and CSS workshop of its newly released web projects last August 20 at its office in midtown Manhattan with the people behind it in attendance–Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski.

If you’ve seen a drone, most likely you’re thinking how hard can it be to fly one, right? Well, it was not so easy for Easy Aerial’s CEO Ivan Stamatovski. Stamatovoski was one of four other presenters at the NY Video Meetup last July 23 at the AOL offices. “I have been flying a drone for two years but still suck at it,” he admitted.

Some apps certainly function as if they were invisible like Dennis Mortensen’s x.ai. It’s an artificial intelligence powered personal assistant that schedules meetings for you. Mortensen was again going the rounds with Amy, the name of his A.I. personal assistant who happened to be in the same room as Larry, which is Raad Ahmed’s text-responder of a lawyer, a mix of automation and human beings. Larry is the text version of Ahmed’s LawTrades. It’s personalized legal help tailored to your business over text. Both presenters and other startups Alfred and Stefanshead were at The Product Hunt meetup last July 22 at Animoto’s offices.

How do you cover the media when you’re the media? For its fifth meetup, The Tech Press Meetup invited Jason Abbruzzese of Mashable, Shannon Bond of the Financial Times and Tom Kludt of CNN to shed light on this topic at the Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism at 20 Cooper Square.

Having covered the tech meetup scene for the past few years, it’s interesting how a meetup about “Getting your startup set up and funded” produces a new group of aspiring entrepreneurs, new to the tech scene and what it takes to build one. There’s certainly something for everyone in the fastest-growing tech city and that’s what Megan Hannum, venture partner at Comcast, co-founder at Fundedby, was at Spark Labs last July 15 for–to help newcomers get their feet wet in the startup scene.

More than 35 investors, panel talks, lightning pitches, everyone one-on-ones with VCs, a venture fair—it was a summer blockbuster of a tech meetup what NY Tech Breakfast pulled off last July 10 at Microsoft, near Times Square. What’s amazing is how it was all pulled off in one half day, from 8 am to noontime.

What do you think people would Google: How to survive a breakup or divorce lawyer? You could do both or just the former if you think it’ll be better SEO for your business. “The key is to be creative with your link-baits (to set you apart and own that search), said Kevin Lee, founder and CEO of Didit.com last July 11.

JJ Fliegelman is generous with his ideas and insights into his business, Campus Job, an online marketplace for college students to find jobs that he co-founded with ex-Googler Liz Wessel. Launched only last September, Campus Job has already signed up 2,300 colleges, 3,000 employers, 100,000 students and—music to every startup founder’s ears—funding to the tune of $9 million.

When you have everyone discussing about their design process, it makes for an engaging presentation. Last June 24, Design Driven’s meetup was the best so far the way each speaker presented a specific topic—and more importantly, because the presenters were generous with their thoughts and candid with their answers, especially Bradford Shellhammer, founder of Fab.com and most recently, founder of Bezar.

Joseph Essas of Open Table, the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations, opened the talk at the Data Driven last June 16 at Bloomberg’s offices. It was Data Driven’s last monthly meetup as it takes a well-deserved two-month summer break.

“If it doesn’t fit excel, it’s big data.” That was Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist at Betaworks, giving a digestible meaning of how big data is about volume and variety as much as it is about velocity and variety, which conveniently rounds up to the four essential Vs you need in big data. Lotan was speaking at Tech in Motion’s first ever Big Data meetup at the spacious office of Mediaocean, a leading software platform provider for the advertising world. He was with two other Big Data panelists Bruce Weed, program director of Big Data and Watson at IBM and Claudia Perlich, chief data scientist at Dstillery.

Asking if you really need to know the number of your eggs on your fridge is perhaps the best way to determine how much automation you need for your home. It determines if you need Canary, Hggns, Keen Home or Smart Things, the presenters at the IoT Central meetup last June 17 at R/GA Accelerator’s offices near Port Authority. How do you get attention amid all the noise out there? If you ask Ben Parr, he will tell you that you need 7 captivation triggers, which he expounds on his recently launched book, “Captivology.”

How do you get attention amid all the noise out there? If you ask Ben Parr, he will tell you that you need 7 captivation triggers, which he expounds on his recently launched book, “Captivology.” Asking if you really need to know the number of your eggs on your fridge is perhaps the best way to determine how much automation you need for your home. It determines if you need Canary, Hggns, Keen Home or Smart Things, the presenters at the IoT Central meetup last June 17 at R/GA Accelerator’s offices near Port Authority.

Last May 28, The Hatchery presented four startups–Moving Analytics, Crowds Line, Mobiquire, Centrallo and Revenue Mantra at the Microsoft Building. “The Hatchery: Are You Serious?” Meetup group has been holding startup presentations for eight years now, but sometimes this writer wonders if the question extends beyond the earnest question. After all, it’s not easy to launch a successful startup let alone present in front of VCs.

The Market New York Expo for small businesses last May 21 at the Javits Center featured several talks on branding, email marketing, digital sales and mobile marketing. What stood out for us were the talks on Search Engine Optimization by Ruben Quinones, NYU adjunct instructor and VP, Client Strategy at Path Interactive and Mobile Marketing by Warren Zenna, EVP & Managing Director at Mobext (Havas Media).

FlyLabs has wowed audiences at the NY Tech Meetup months back and at the NY Video Meetup last May 20, it again drew some ecstatic applause for its video-editing apps, Fly, Clips and its new one called Tempo, a quick way to alter video time speeds.

Last May 14, PandoMonthly hosted a one-on-one interview with Sheila Marcelo, CEO and co-founder of care.com who talked at length about her Filipino roots and how the influence of her “Tiger mom” and the discipline they inculcated in her formed a big part of her success now.

Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first-ever chief technology officer (CTO), said she pretty much created every job she had at the StartupGrind meetup last May 7. Tantoco directs the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, overseeing the development and implementation of a coordinated citywide strategy on technology and innovation and encouraging collaboration across agencies and with the wider New York City technology ecosystem. “We are a little startup inside city hall,” she said.

It’s good to see Scott Heiferman show up at NY Tech Meetup last May 5. Once a regular fixture of it many years ago, even as co-host, the Meetup founder has understandably been busy building his community of meetups, 30,000 for tech alone around the country. It was, as he has explained over time, a “9/11 baby.” He was at this particular meetup to announce the NY Tech Meetup Apple Watch app. The presenters of the night were Ananas, AptDeco, Amadeus, CornellTech, Epicure, OneDrop and X.ai with Wikitongues as hack of the night.

Adesoji Ojugbele of Google Android may have nailed it when asked about how to measure people’s attention span these days by using Instagram as an example: How long does it take you to post a photo on Instagram? The photo app is a good example, because as more people get used to its quick functionalities, the more people will not have patience for everything else that takes longer. The word “longer” here has come to mean longer than, say, 10 seconds; that could be an eternity for some people. Instagram is quick enough that anything else will be slow.

Last April 29, Uncubed held its meetup, “Hacks that saved my life” at Refinery 29 with the World Trade Center building gleaming behind it as early evening set in. This is not your typical show-and-tell meetup. It might as well be classified the hacked-and-tell meetup as each presenter talked about how a new app or site made their life easier, more fun and even useful in an unusual way.

Hardwired’s 19th meetup last April 22 might just have assembled the most interesting mix of startups so far —a drone that collects data fast, a pet activity and health monitor, a virtual reality content creator and—are you ready?—a new way of growing meat. Not your typical tech meetup in the city, folks.

More than 400 startups pitched to 10,000 attendees at the fourth-year of the largest annual tech fair called Tech Day. The event held last April 23 showcased startups in various industries such as education and e-commerce, design and deliveries, food and fashion, music and things mobile as well as that services catering to them like co-working spaces, immigration and recruitment companies.

Last April 22, a new venue emerged from the meetups gaining popular steam in springtime New York, just as the Tribeca Film Festival was rolling its week-long fest of indie and alternative films. It had the same makeup as the tech meetup talks, except it was held at the De Niro-propelled film center and headlined Designing Innovation.

Last April 14, the Data Driven Meetup featured How Liu, founder and CEO of Airtable; Scott Crunch, co-founder and CEO of Mark43; Bob Muglia, CEO of Snowflake and Emil Eifrem, founder and CEO of Neo Technologies at the Bloomberg offices.

Last April 8, AlleyNYC’s SquadUp featured three female-owned startups Bird and Stone , Plum Alley, Quarterlette and Dreamers//Doers with some VC guests giving tip on how to get funded. Made in New York, Bird and Stone sells its own jewelry line with 15 percent of sales funding micro loans and agri-business training in Kenya, where 75 percent of its people live in rural areas. So far, it has funded 8 women with $200 microloans and provided them with financial training, industry training and mentorship.

Dash, City Maps and even a 105-year-old startup named IBM stood out from the demonstrations hosted by NY Tech Meetup last April 7 at the NYU Skirball Theater. But Dash was clearly the night’s favorite the way it connects cars to smartphones and unlocks enhanced performance, cost savings and social driving.

Sometimes the title of a meetup ends up being more. You simply need a host who knows how to push the right buttons and no demos. Last April 1, the Disruptive Technologists group planned a forum called “Balancing a Cool Idea with Profitability” with host/moderator Bruce Bachenheimer, a Pace University professor. It turned out to be about a lot more, including a call for immigration reform to fill up the critical need for developers and other talented people in the United States.

How would you like your bike to guide your way with navigation lights? Hammerhead wants to lead the way with this idea. How would you like virtual reality as a productivity tool? IrisVR aspires to make that a seamless experience. These were just two of the presenters at Hardwired NYC’s meetup last March 24 at Quirky at 28th West and 11th Avenue. The others were Brilliant Bike, American Prison Data Systems and Wink.

Last March 23, the On-Demand Economy meetup featured Button, Managed by Q and Minibar at the Animoto offices in midtown Manhattan. Much of the tech world is trying to figure out deep linking, that is, making the mobile app ecosystem work more like the web.

Silicon Alley is extending all the way to Queens as the Digital NYC Five-Borough tour made its stop at the LA Guardia Community College last March 26. An initative of Mayor Bill de Blasio, digital.nyc is the city’s online hubs for all things tech and startups. Eric Gertler of NYCEDC (New York City Economic Development Council) said it is making sure all of its programs extend to everyone in New York as part of an initiative to reduce income inequality.

Nir Eyal talks about his latest book, ‘Hooked: How to build habit-forming products

Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal

By Dennis Clemente

How do you like some structured thinking to go with your startup brainstorming?

The New York tech meetups happening in the city every night are wholly unstructured. It’s just a channel for startups to quickly demo their product and, even in some cases, get feedback from startups, right on the spot. Some presentations may do better in the on-the-fly, off-the-cuff talks, but there’s always no guarantee. What’s guaranteed is how you get the chance to watch a startup founder talk about a work in progress.

Last November 4, structure came to the Alley NYC Meetup when Nir Eyal launched his book there that day called “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.” Eyal certainly gets my nod for being one of the most lucid presenters in the NY tech meetups this year and it’s perhaps on account of how he has formulated a clear basic framework on the subject for a couple of years now, which was evident in his presentation.

It also helps that he has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing on technology, psychology and business appears in the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today. Nir blogs at NirAndFar.com.

The book is a must-read if you are designing a new startup or leading a product development team, as it talks about behavioral uses of technology, apps and social media while also leaving room for us to tackle the hard ethical questions on forming habits. His basic framework is as follows:
1. Trigger
2. Action
3. Variable reward
4. Investment

Triggers: (Internal and External).
Do you know your user or customer’s internal trigger? Find out your user’s itch. People always look for associations, solutions and patterns. It cues the user for the next action, telling what the user what to do next. Look for associations. Ask yourself, when you are bored, what do you do? You go to YouTube? Do you know your trigger? Do they fear missing out on something?

Action.
It is the simplest behavior in anticipation of a reward. Once you have them using your app, what can they do to get a reward of some sort? He cited Facebook’s “Like.” That is a powerful reward that makes people keep coming back to the social network.

Variable reward.
This is social validation among friends or personal gratification. For example, there are 5,000 questions answered daily on Stackoverflow, which indicate how people like to share their knowledge without asking for anything in return, contented as they are that it makes them feel good helping people. People also like feeling a sense of self-achievement or mastery, consistency and control.

Investment.
Users invest for future benefits. Investments store value, improving the product with value. Unlike a chair which depreciates in value, your startup should appreciate in value. The more followers you have for example, the better your value.

Also check out his blog, nirandfar.com

Storytelling in app world needs both Agile and Waterfall

brooklyndesignBy Dennis Clemente

Does the Agile methodology work in storytelling? If you ask Brian Kelly of Small Planet Digital, a full service mobile agency with 57 apps in the Apple Store, he thinks storytelling needs both Agile and Waterfall.

Using TV series as a case study, Kelly argued how Agile alone is not enough. “A pilot is the MVP, the episode the sprint and the season the version. Nobody writes the season(s) upfront.”

Stressing this point, he said, “When Agile works, it works but we’re often hired to tell stories and create new narratives. And agile is not really good for telling these great emotional stories.”

Kelly was one of three presenters at the Brooklyn Mobile Designers meetup along with
Refinery 29’s UX director Eben Levy and senior UX designer Juan Sanchez as well as Luke Miller, formerly of Yahoo and whose energetic speaking voice, will do him well in his incarnation as a mentor at General Assemb.ly.

Both Levy and Sanchez talked about the lessons they’ve learned in mobile design. Some of the key learnings they shared:

• Never assume they’re going to use (a feature)
• Consistency of experience is important
• White space is part of our background
• The problems you face may not be the interactive but how you need to diversify interface points
• Work closely with data analysts, to (design) in an honest way
• The biggest thing for us is the monetization of mobile
• Challenge is how to balance advertising needs vs. user needs
• It uses an internal tool to test

Using a newsfeed as case study, Miller advised people to take these three points to heart: usability, pagination and universal app for mobile and tablets. He stresses how it’s wrong to use a product person (internal) as test user.

Miller talked about the tools he has used. At Yahoo Finance, Miller used Hype. For interaction, he now uses a new tool called Pixate. “(The latter is) almost object-oriented programming, not timeline based, and with no coding.”

He urges designers to use data collection. “It’s good for hypothesis.”

Indiegogo, Alphaworks, TDBank flex meaning of fundraising

Indiegogo's Jerry Needel
Indiegogo’s Jerry Needel

By Dennis Clemente

DUMBO, Brooklyn is far from all the tech meetups happening in New York City, but it makes sense to hold an event here. After all, it’s where many startups hold office.

This makes perfect sense for Digital DUMBO, which produces live events, conferences, content and custom experiences, like it did last June 26 when it hosted a meetup featuring Alphaworks, Indiegogo and even TDBank. Crowdfunding meets Bank—an unusual partnership but one that should make sense. Every startup needs funding no matter where it’s coming from, even from a bank like TDBank.

So other than angel investors and VCs, startups have more choices. Crowdfunding, for instance, is gaining immense popularity, especially those who have tech hardware in or wearable in mind. Crowdfunding sites are magnets for any physical device, because it’s easier for people to invest in something they can physically grasp, literally.

The Pebble Watch’s success was the turning point. Now, people easily identify with physical devices pitched on a crowdfunding site like Indiegogo. Jerry Needel, Head of Growth at Indiegogo, told us the story of how the founder of Bug a Salt, a gun-like fly swatter, invested 300,000 of his own money and maxed out on his credit cards with almost no hope of recouping his investment until he posted his idea on Indiegogo and people responded in kind (read: money).

Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock build a door.”

Even when poked at, one can’t discount how Bug a Salt became a huge success. It’s on Amazon for $39.95.

So ask yourself if you really need the money, because Indiegogo thinks you can bring out an idea much sooner with them. Needel said you need to test your market,
find out your market validation, build buzz, capture data and raise capital.

“Crowdfunding is a proving ground for startups,” he said as he talked about the success stories in Indiegogo like Misfit Shine which raised $846,000 or Knix, which raised $60,000 in 30 days – success is how much money you need to raise.

But what if you want to be a co-owner of a startup? You can do that with Alphaworks.

Nick Barr, VP Product of Alphaworks, said the company’s mission is to empower passionate communities to become owners in the companies they love. Founded by Betaworks, it represents a new kind of ownership, a world in which companies are likely to be owned by a community of people

Alphaworks, founded by Betaworks, represents a new kind of ownership – a world in which companies are as likely to be owned by a community of people as they are by just a few individuals. Our thesis is that over time, this new kind of community owned business will lead to more profitable and lasting organizations.

If you want to invest, Barr recommends Giphy, See me and Quibb.

It was easy to tell who came from TDBank last Thursday. Brandon Williams of TDBank’s Head of US Wealth, even kidded about it. “We’re the ones in suits.”

To express his commitment to startups, he said, “We want to be partners with you. No company is too small,” he said.

If you’re interested in learning more about TD Bank and how they can help you or your company, contact Peter Izzo, VP Commerical Banking, at (212) 918-4186 or Tarryn Kone, TD Private Client Group, at (212) 897 2658, or visit www.tdbank.com.

Digital DUMBO started in 2009 as a social gathering for innovative companies in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, a six-block area with over 100 media and technology companies. If you’re In the neighborhood, there’s no excuse if you don’t what it means. It’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

Is a media startup a good investment?

Adrienne Skinner of e-marketer and Rafat Ali of Skift
Adrienne Skinner of e-marketer and Rafat Ali of Skift

By Dennis Clemente

Media startups — a good investment or not? It really depends on who you’re talking to. This was the topic at the TiE meetup last June 24 on Park Avenue South.

If you’re pitching to a VC, convincing them to invest in your media startup is not easy. That’s what Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of Skift, the leading global travel intelligence publication, will tell you.

If we’re talking numbers, it’s a lucrative industry, because digital ad spending has reached $51 billion. That’s the number Adrienne Skinner of e-marketer showed us.

So if VCs are out of the question, you’ll need to raise funds in your immediate vicinity: family and friends and after that, angel investors, even accelerators or incubators. You could also bootstrap it yourself, hope to raise traction and once you accomplish that, try with a VC again. It can happen.

BuzzFeed and Vice have raised $330 million deals. More recently, Upworthy got $7 million in funding. They’re exceptions, Ali will tell you. Having been a longtime journalist, his insights have always been spot-on.

“The growth curve of media is not as high,” he said, pointing to how media requires brand-building efforts in some of his previous interviews.

Media as an asset class is not a focus for venture capitalists. “Venture capital is geared toward giant opportunities,” he added.

It doesn’t mean that media is not a good investment, of course. Some venture capitalists just have different priorities and others like Lerer Ventures, is perfectly fine as an investor of BuzzFeed.

Travel turned out to be a lucrative choice for Ali, a tech journalist before he ventured into his first startup, PaidContent in 2002, which he sold to The Guardian in 2008.

“Travel is the largest B-to-C e-commerce category at $145 billion (US digital travel sales) and $416 billion (worldwide),” said Skinner of e-marketer, the authority on digital marketing, internet market research, statistics, and objective analysis.

Two inflection points that media can look into are mobile ad spending and digital ad spending. In 2016, ad spending is estimated to increase by 83 percent, overtaking the desktop, which shrunk 2.4 percent in 2014. In 2018, digital ad spending will overtake TV

Mobile’s share of the pie is only doing one thing: Getting bigger at 613 percent. That’s growth in daily time spent with mobile from 2010 to 2014.

Still, digital pubs and ad agencies should take into account that that ad spending is also highly concentrated among a handful of companies. Google, Facebook, Microsoft Yahoo, AOL, IAC, Amazon, Twitter and Linkedin share 66 percent of it, which has reduced traditional ad agencies’ share of the pie.

Social accounts for more than 13 percent of digital ad spending. It’s at $7 billion to $51 billion for digital ad spending. Ali cautions people looking into social opportunities. “Social is really easy to get into, but like badminton, hard to master,” Ali said.

Beyond the number-crunching, Skinner said every marketer needs to know 3 fundamental things: 1) How consumer spend money; 2) how consumers spend time and 3) and how best to reach consumers

For the latter, Ali stressed email newsletters more than once. “It’s the no. 1 source for us for getting users.”

The meetup was hosted by “TiE Bootstrap,” a focused series of panel discussions and workshops for entrepreneurs considering a new venture or in the growth stage.

Startup challenge: Present in 2 minutes, get feedback from VCs

By Dennis Clemente

The growing number of startups in this city must be overwhelming tech meetups. Last June 12 at the Microsoft Building in Times Square, Ultra Light Startups kept its regular programming of eight startups but with more VCs on the table: Jeff Finkle. co-chairman at ARC Angel Fund; Jerry Hao, associate at NYU Innovation Venture Fund; William Reinisch, venture partner at Paladin Capital Group and Caitlin Strandberg, associate at Flybridge Capital Partners.

The invited panel of investors listened to the two-minute presentation of startups and in between, provided them the necessary feedback for possible venture funding. The presenters were a mixed bag.

Wise Banyan claims to be the world’s first free wealth manager. “We’re reducing barriers to investing,” said founder Herbert Moore who said the startup is gaining “incredible traction with millennials.” This report alone could have been elaborated, but because of time limitation, the presentation moved on.

The Loadown is called a real-time marketing optimization platform for apps with clients like PBS and Random House.

The VCs’ advice to David Renard of The Loadown: “Think how pricing will affect profitability and get more data. Plan how to get $100 million in revenue in 5 years.” It sounded like the startup is on the right track, but sometimes it’s really just about the VCs trying to get more data and insights from the startup.

DoRevolution is supposed to be an actionable platform for online advertising based on Watson’s AI engine, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what the company is about when the presenter is in a squirrel mask. Samir Patel removed it eventually, but the distracting mask confused a VC: “What do you do?”

Aarting’s Todd Wahnish describes his startup this way: “It’s a crowdfunding platform that makes it easy for visual artists to create and sell custom products. “We have a product the hustles itself.”

For artists, it’s a way to test the waters and see if there is demand for your work. “We don’t have to make anything. It’s all pre-order. We have no inventory or warehouse,” said Wahnish who has come a long way from “being homeless.”

Echovate reportedly provides fact-based hiring insights for the modern small business. Think FICO score. What is its value? Turnovers can be costly. Matthew Gough said companies should think of reduced turnover.

Chatwala is a two-way, face-to-face ongoing video conversation with your friends and family. It’s been nearly a year since we last saw Chatwala at the AOL building, but Tej Bhatia clearly has to be more aggressive these days when, according to one VC, “Snapchat is rolling something similar.”

What is it? It’s making conversation real-time even if it’s not real-time. Or how you can come back to the great-looking video interface and resume a previous conversation, as if it’s in real-time.

A VC gave some cautionary advice: “Raising 1 million to figure out your startup may not be the way to do it.” That commend would have been normal hearing It from Reinisch, the Hatchery regular, but the VC went out of character, telling Bhatia to “forget the noise.” Reinisch stressed how important it was for Chatwala to hone in on the technology it wants to use. Strandberg said Chatwala may want to study its users.

Binary Event Network with its Pivit is a marketplace that captures, rewards and reports changing public opinion about real-world events in real-time.

Then there’s the “real” software among all the other presenters, AfreSHeet, which presented disposable bedsheets which the young founder Maxwell Cohen thinks would be perfect in dorms—the college market.

“Martha Stewart vouched for this,” said Cohen whose co-founder is his mother.
Strandberg leaned in saying the market is really hot, especially when people are talking about protecting the environment.

Mark Caron of bMobilized and Bill Gallagher hosted the show.