- Midwest Reboot
- The Modern Marketer [Infographic]
- A Merging of 19th Century and 21st Century Entrepreneurship
- Business Is About Motion
- Kincast makes it easy to video share moments with your family
- Mary Meeker releases her 2012 Internet Trends
- A first on Hard Knox Life
- Quora: “What will it take to build the next Procter & Gamble?”
- See The Difference A Weekend Can Make
- Is your company a “Silent Killer”?
On Thursday June 6, I'm headed up to Detroit to take part in Brand Innovators Made in America conference. Fittingly taking place in the Ford Motor Company Conference Center, the conference will look at iconic American brands and their impact on the world. While the day is going to be packed with great sessions, what I'm most excited about is the panel that I'm hosting entitled Midwest Reboot. As we described the panel:
When the recession hit in 2008, there were fewer places hit harder than the “Rust Belt” of the Midwest and Detroit was at the epicenter of this financial devastation. But out of these ashes, a new breed of entrepreneur and business leader has emerged that is hellbent on a mission to reboot and rebuild the Midwest. Some are writing the next chapter for some of America’s most storied brands, while others are dreaming up the next Fortune 500 business. When talking about this Midwest Reboot, panelist Ted Serbinski from Detroit Venture Partners (DVP) wrote that Midwesterners “choose to be here. [We] are not taking the easy route to one of the coastal cities like New York or San Francisco but instead rolling up our sleeves, getting to work, and making a difference.”The panel will introduce the audience to several entrepreneurs who are working on the front line of the Midwest Reboot. I'm also going to be joined by Ted Serbinski of DVP who wrote his memorable quote above when he was talking about his move to Detroit from San Francisco. Ted is one of the best examples out there of a new breed of business leaders who are spearheading the Midwest Reboot. It promises to be an exciting panel as we talk the growing entrepreneurial energy in the Midwest, the rise of programs like The Brandery, and the new brands that are launching in our backyard. If you are a Brand Marketer that has an interest in attending, drop me an email for free attendance to the conference. And if you are already planning on being there, let me know so we can connect in person.
Through my posts on Brand Manager 2.0, I have written quite a bit about how technology is changing the job of a marketer today. Of course, that means I was quite a fan of this infographic from Pardot which talks about a Modern Marketer being part artists and part scientist. In their words, a modern marketer must master: * Written Content * Visual Assets * Social Media * Email Marketing * Performance Tracking * Budgeting and Operations * Analytics * Campaign Performance
When the Mercantile Library in Cincinnati opened its doors in 1835, the 19th century institution stood in the middle of the fast-growing nation’s busiest startup community. It was a community that would give birth to some of the largest companies in the country including names like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and E.W. Scripps. A group of 45 young, energetic, and confident merchants came together to organize the Library and put themselves on track to become the entrepreneurial engines of the growing city’s future prosperity.
One of my favorite books of 2012 was _Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business_, which was written by the co-founders of Get Satisfaction. _Get Lucky_ shows businesses how to succeed by fostering the conditions for serendipity to occur early and often. One of the principles in the book is "Motion", the skill of putting yourself in unfamiliar situations, but within familiar environments, in order to engage with previously unfamiliar people and ideas that are connected to your job, your projects, or your interests. Motion is the reason that I'm traveling this week to Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronic Show or what most people know as CES. Throughout the year, there are handful of events in the digital industry like CES and SXSW where people and companies come together. The power of these events is the very planned serendipity that is talked about in _Get Lucky_. When I'm attending one of these events, I intentionally structure each and every day that I'm there. That structure revolves around catching up with old friends and colleagues, attending parties / mixers where key industry players will be, and leaving a little time for the unknown. For CES 2013, that means my week has things like: * Dinner with a good friend (and former P&G colleague) who recently moved into a senior marketing leadership role * Attending Twitter's Annual CES party at the Cosmopolitan * Giving a Lightning Talk at the Tech Cocktail / Vegas Tech event for the Las Vegas Downtown Project * Lots of coffee meetings that are a mixer of catching up with friends and meeting new people The pre-planning takes a decent amount of work, but the payoff is tremendous. I personally think that too many people take a "wait and see" approach to industry events. In their eyes, just attending the event is sufficient. As a result, they end having a few fun days away from the office, but they spend the whole time with the people who they came with. What they miss is the Motion, putting themselves into those unfamiliar situations to engage with previously unfamiliar people. They miss the chance to bring a little luck to their business. And I can't think of a better town for luck than Las Vegas.
Earlier this summer, the guys at Sproutbox introduced me to one of their newest investments, a company called Kincast. In their words,
"Kincast is a fun and special way to engage loved ones in a worry-free environment. Chatting, sharing video, sending video messages and creating video cards get everyone involved."Today, Kincast launches their version 2.0 with a new app that has completely reworked the user experience. The below video does a great job of capturing the value proposition of the company. More importantly, the video captures a key insight that all consumer startups should pay attention to. Instead of talking the various product features, Kincast focuses on the problem that they are solving for real people. In this case, that problem is the fact that families have special moments that are often missed because of time and distance. It is a problem I have watched first hand with our twins given that none of family lives here in Cincinnati. Check out the below video and be sure to download the new version of Kincast. _Disclosure: I am an adviser to Kincast_
One of the must reads on the State of the Internet is the report published by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins. The latest edition was just posted on Slideshare and I highly advise you take a few minutes this weekend to read it. At a high level, the report talks the following: * Basic Stats – Internet Growth Remains Robust, Rapid Mobile Adoption Still in Early Stages * Re-Imagination – of Nearly Everything * Asset-Light Generation – From Hand to Cloud & Back…Rise of the Sharing Economy (a great trend for Brandery grad FlightCar) * ‘USA, Inc.’ – A Lot to be Excited About in Tech, a Lot to be Worried about in Other Areas
For the first time, I'm going to try my hand at a sweepstakes here on Hard Knox Life. I've been pretty radio silent with the time commitment of Rockfish, The Brandery and my new little ones at home. So consider this sweepstakes a bit of payback for sticking with me and not deleting me from your RSS feeds! Recently the folks at SOL REPUBLIC reached out to me regarding the new Anthem line of headphones that was launching in partnership with Michael Phelps. These are the headphones you might have seen Phelps wearing at the Olympics when he was getting ready to win all those gold medals! Needless to say, they are pretty nice. With the open office environment at Rockfish, I've found my own pair of SOL Republic headphones to be a life saver for my concentration. So I have a pair of Anthem headphones to give away to a reader. To be eligible, please leave a comment on this post, along with your email so we can contact the winner. The winner will be selected from comments that are left on this post by Friday, December 7th at 11:59 PM EST. SOL REPUBLIC will send the headphones directly to the winner. And by the way: There’s no purchase necessary to participate in this contest, you must be over the age of 18, and it is void where prohibited by law. For entry, you must leave a comment to be eligible by Friday, December 7th and the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. The value of the prize is $149.99.
Over on Quora, Tristan Walker asked me to answer the question of "What will it take to build the next Procter & Gamble?" It is a fun question when you think about what it will take to turn one of today's technology darlings into a company that can last over 100 years. Given the positive response I received on the post, I thought I'd repost my answer as a blog post here:
Amazing answer,WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BUILD THE NEXT PROCTER & GAMBLE? Of course there are many ways to interpret this question but I'm going to take the stance that building the next P&G refers to building a company with the following characteristics: - Market leadership in multiple product categories - A global footprint - A reputation as a top company for business leadership - Ability to be over 100 years old and still thriving I think there a few core things that have helped P&G to become such a company: Innovation Based On Expertise: Today P&G competes in categories as far reaching as diapers, laundry care and cosmetics. But one thing most people don't realize is that P&G's history is based on 1 Degree Innovation. There is even a diagram at headquarters in Cincinnati that shows this principle. P&G started in soap and candles, which were based fat based products. Each product was innovation that was one degree away from a technical or scientific ability that P&G had from an existing product. For instance, P&G's entry into Oral Care (Crest, etc) in the 1950′s was driven by experience in Laundry Detergent. And that holds true today where Swiffer was launched based on technology from Pampers (Swiffer Wet is basically a diaper on a stick). A Talent Development Pipeline: While P&G's promote from within culture has been questioned, there is not denying the ability of P&G to develop world-class business leaders. In recent years, 15% of Fortune 500 companies were led by a CEO who had started at P&G (a few examples include Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Meg Whitman of eBay / HP, & Steve Cook of Intuit). P&G invests a tremendous amount of resources in training and developing their people and they prefer to start with a clean slate with 90% of people joining P&G at entry level. This approach creates a consistent culture of leadership that provides stability in even in difficult times. It also provides loyalty that is rarely seen in today's business environment. People will stay at P&G for decades because of the opportunities, something that isnt exactly a hallmark of Silicon Valley. A Consumer Is Boss Mindset: P&G has always put the consumer first and basically invented market research in order to drive many of their product decisions. The mindset of understanding the consumer is also a reason P&G has always called Cincinnati home because it gives their employees a front row view at the lives of their consumer. Its also why they opened office in New York City to understand the Prestige Beauty consumer and why their Skin Care and Baby Care divisions are establishing major presences in Asia. Competing With Itself: P&G is an expert at tiered marketing, launching brands in the same category in order to meet diverse consumer needs (back to the Consumer Is Boss mindset). In Baby Care, they have both Pampers on the premium side and Luvs on the value side. In Laundry, they have Tide, Era, Cheer, and Gain all in the same market. These Brand Managers might only sit 20 feet apart at the office but they are competing fiercely with each other instead of letting a competitor beat them. This is part of the reason that P&G has been able to develop over 25 Billion Dollar brands.
@DAVEKNOX. Every co./startup should take note. "What will it take to build the next Procter & Gamble?" qr.ae/8Oqre — tristan walker (@tristanwalker) August 5, 2012
One of my favorite emails is one from an aspiring entrepreneur that is looking to get involved in the Cincinnati start-up community. Generally the common theme is the person is looking for a co-founder, especially a technical co-founder. I usually start with suggesting things like StartupDigest for events, StartupCincy for seeing existing companies, and meetups like Web / Tech Drinkup for networking. While all of those are amazing first steps, they do not offer an opportunity to immerse yourself into what a startup is really like. Luckily for those looking for that immersion, you will have that opportunity on July 27 - 29 as Cincinnati hosts its first official Startup Weekend. There is no event better for getting a taste of the entrepreneurial startup life. If you aren't familiar with Startup Weekend, it is a non-profit, community-building event that brings together entrepreneurs (and aspiring entrepreneurs) of all backgrounds including software developers, marketers, designers, and other enthusiasts to pitch ideas, form teams and start companies in just 54 hours. The participants that attend have 60 seconds to make a pitch (optional), the pitches are whittled down to the top ideas, and then teams form around the ideas to come out with several developed companies or projects. Finally, the weekend culminates with demonstrations in front of an audience of judges and potential investors. Today is the last day to get the early bird registration price of $40 for the weekend so hurry up and register. I promise it is an experience that you will never forget.
I just started to read Brad Feld's new ebook _Burning Entrepreneur _and I can already say its another must-read for entrepreneurs. The book is largely a collection of Brad's writing from his popular blog put together in a single book. In a world of RSS, it is inevitable that you are going to miss some great posts, even if you are a loyal reader of a blog. _Burning Entrepreneur_ has made me realize the great posts I have missed from Brad, including one called "The Silent Killers" that talks about a certain type of company:
When I look at the Foundry Group portfolio, we’ve got a bunch of them in it. They don’t spend a lot of time trying to get written up in TechCrunch. They often aren’t based in the bay area. Their CEO’s don’t run around bloviating about what they are going to do some day. They just do it. And suddenly they are $10 million, or $20 million, or even $50 million revenue companies. Before anyone has really noticed. Without any real competition. They are the unambiguous and dominant market leader… But they sneak up on you. They don’t waste their time hyping themselves. They don’t run around trying to get VCs interested in what they are doing. Rather, they just do.Many of the companies that excite me at The Brandery fall into this camp for sure. And the same goes for Brand Ventures. I definetely share Brad's feeling for these type of companies.