The next speaker for our event series “1871 Talks” was none other than Howard Tullman, labelled by Inc. Magazine as “the most accomplished, best-connected entrepreneur you have never heard of.” A serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, art collector, teacher, lecturer, lawyer, marathon runner, and friend of both Bill Clinton and Tyra Banks, Tullman has done it all. Most recently and prominently, President and CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, Tullman attracted a room full of 300 eager Chicagoans anxious to hear about his insights on new media trends.
Introduction: Before Facebook, the primary purpose of the internet was informational. It was principally about anonymous links. However, now that we can post personal social profiles and scroll easily through those of others, the web has become about people. This has had phenomenal implications for the way businesses can interact with and learn from their consumers. Businesses that are not willing to constantly evolve their communication online will quickly be left behind. This is even true for established brands. For example, Words with Friends blew Scrabble out of the water by listening and rapidly reacting to the ever-changing demands of their users.
According to Tullman, social media and technology will shape the future in the following ways:
Hyper-personalization: Our laziness to retype information across multiple accounts has sparked the great success of the Facebook connector. Now more than 9 million applications connect thru Facebook allowing marketers and businesses to target everyone cost effectively, making personal data “the oil of the digital age.” You can even personally benefit with sites like ShoppyCat, which recommends gifts for your friends based on their Facebook information.
Know-Before-You-Go Data Capabilities: Metrics have become so predictive to the point that there is an 80% likelihood that Facebook can determine which two people will change their status to “in a relationship” from their online activities. Analysts have also determined the number of people who will leave AT&T and typical moods on certain days and times of the week just from analyzing trends on Facebook and Twitter. Thus, businesses will have heightened accountability and confidence in the moves that they make to get ahead.
Constant Connection and “Smart Reach”: The location based data (LBS) that is now available has added the dimension of context to business insights. Tullman says now we can “hit people with the right content at the right time and the right place.” Where is my consumer right now? What media outlets are available to me in those places? If a lot of target consumers are attending a sports game, for example, marketers can take advantage of stadium screens for their advertisements. Israeli company Trendit has melded cell phone data with census data so they can figure out where the crowds are and where the crowds are going. This is unbelievably useful information. It’s not just about the content of your message or the quality of your product anymore. It is about where and how you are choosing to promote it.
Connection and Digital Content Delivery: It used to be that when we left home we were unplugged and unaware of the things that were happening in real time. Mobile, tablet, and 3G/4G capabilities have changed that. Mobile has become the best way to connect with people. Even when people are watching TV, 40% of adults are multitasking on another device. Crowd-funding site Indiegogo raised over $700,000 for the Abused Bus Monitor fund from people in all 50 states showing how powerful it can be for people to be connected all the time. In fact, technological sustainability has taken on a sort of razor-cartridge business model. It’s less about the device itself and more about its ability to maintain a constant connection with continuous content delivery.
Gamification: Whether it be through Klout’s influence score, Foursquare’s badges or Nike Plus’s monthly workout rankings, brands have found new ways to engage their consumers – with games and prizes. This new “incentivization” technique has great promise for marketing campaigns and engagement strategy.
New Types of Networks: People on the streets are trumping the power of our large news institutions with handycams, cell phones, and the power of the web. There are new networks forming around these forums. From the rapid video sharing power of Youtube to the up-voting and down-voting of links on Reddit, people have developed widely dispersed engagements with their content. Understanding these networks and their fluctuations is crucial to developing loyalties with your audience.
Seeing is Wanting: Online shopping is an extraordinary convenience in itself, but now we are even looking towards online “fitting rooms” so to speak. Sears allows users to design interactive rooms with furniture they plan to buy scaled perfectly to size. There are even companies that will show you what an outfit will look like on you. This is a melding of digital and tangible that’s incredible.
Although this may seem like a lot to think about, Tullman advises to “start small and scale up as you succeed.” Technology is a vast and pervasive tool that exists to take your vision to the next level, so “stick to your knitting,” the idea that you know best, but make sure to utilize the great social capabilities that tech has to offer.
Thanks again to Howard Tullman for this awesome presentation!
In the second episode of #MeetTheStartups, I had the opportunity to walk around 1871 and speak to various startups about their past. Watch as founders provide brief narratives of their early team history and how they formed. As each conversation concludes, founders are asked to describe their team in one word.
Thanks to our entrepreneur participants in this video: Chuck Templeton of OpenTable, Erik Severinghaus of SimpleRelevance, Phil Leslie of ProOnGo, Jesse Pinho of Mobcart, Todd O’Hara of Toodalu, John Pytel of GoSoapBox, Erica Bethe Levin of Cheeky Chicago, Justin Massa of Food Genius, and Genevieve Thiers of Sittercity/Contact Karma.
Tune in next week as #MeetTheStartups continues to offer a unique perspective on entrepreneurial development in and around 1871. Episode #3 will feature an exciting progression of “Products in 30 Seconds.”
This morning 1871 was lucky enough to have Mark Achler, Senior Vice President of New Business, Strategy, and Innovation of Redbox, come speak on the importance of integrating values into company culture. Starting off his early morning presentation with a round of heartwarming jokes, it was clear how important connecting with people is to him. A string of notable accolades under his belt, notably the serial entrepreneur of four companies, a partner at a venture capitalist firm, and currently an intrapraneur at Redbox, Achler could only stress the importance of values in helping him through every step of his career.
Photographed by: Yaxi Yang, 1871 intern
Traditionally, startup businesses embrace this hierarchy:
Build a product
The general assumption is that a combination of these three will produce lucrative results. However, Achler draws from his well-rounded business background to argue that there is not just one, but seven items missing from this list. They are a set of simply worded values created by Redbox CEO Gregg Kaplan reflecting the simplicity of the company itself. Using personal examples, Achler laid out the following values for maintaining a healthy company culture:
Integrity. Do the right thing: At one of his companies, Achler had to let go of the CEO. The board made the change without any prior notification to the CEO in question. Achler regrets not having the personal courage to reach out to the CEO himself because it hurt both business and relationships within the company. If a certain decision does not feel right, like something that could come back to haunt you, rethink it. Always do what feels right to you.
Respect. Give it and earn it: When Redbox decided to introduce video games to the kiosks, they took the time to understand every departments’ perspective on the issue and the challenges they would face because of it. Now Redbox has successfully integrated video games into its model. “If you have respect for one another, you can always deal with what comes.”
Accountability. Walk the talk: Achler felt on top of the world when he started working as an upper-level manager at a world renowned company. He missed one deadline and was given a warning from his strict boss. Afterwards, he came to work at 4 AM every day and redeemed himself. He learned that “for success to be real you always have to deliver what you promise.”
Dedication. Persevere: Achler once made a very important sale at a Cleveland clinic, but the transaction was drawn out for two and a half years. “You have to finish something until it is done. You are going to get “no” all the time, but you have to keep on knocking doors down like Jack Bauer.”
Humility. Stay grounded: Achler maintains a high degree of humility at Redbox. Although it is growing at a fast rate, “you don’t want to have too swelled a head because you need to stay grounded and realize that technology changes fast.”
Communication. Be open, be honest: A lot of times when a company is making a major decision it really breaks down to how they communicate those changes to the parties involved. “Arguably communication is one of the most important values.”
Empathy.The secret weapon: Lastly, “if you can truly understand someone, customer, partner, someone from another department, you can design products and services to meet those needs.” Redbox had a deep understanding of what customers wanted from a movie rental service and gave them just that – simplicity, value, and convenience.
Attended by more than 65 member of the startup community, the overall sentiment was that it was a rewarding presentation and a great start to the morning. Achler ended by emphasizing “that CEOs who are thoughtful and considerate of the importance of values, who create a culture that is values-driven, ultimately make better decisions and deliver better results.”
Yet, open data does not immediately mean useable data, and few know what to actually do with the growing wealth of open government data. Contributing this problem is the fact that important stakeholders are often not plugged into what data is available or why—that is, the data scientists who know how to process and analyze data aren’t necessarily asking the right questions, while the nonprofits and foundations who ask the right questions don’t necessarily know how to process and analyze.
We’ve teamed non-profits with data scientists before, but this event added a new element. The White House and the US Department of Transportation had just recently launched safety.data.gov, a government portal to an extensive amount of safety data, including data sets on everything from pedestrian safety to food safety. Members of the White House team worked with non-profits ahead of time to bring safety data into their problem definitions. By fostering cross-domain collaboration from the beginning, non-profits could ask their questions of the data, government pointed stakeholders to the “right” data, and data scientists found answers to the non-profits’ questions. We invited three high-impact non-profits who could benefit from this work:
The Chicago Red Cross wanted to use data to understand where fires were likely to occur. We gave them data on local building safety and fire occurrences, and they built a map showing locations of likely fires and analyzed the demographics of those neighborhoods.
Children’s Memorial Hospital wanted to build a database of youth violence prevention programs. We pointed them to data sets on violence in the city, from which they were able to scrape together an automated list of youth violence prevention programs.
Enlace wanted to understand the correlations between education and crime in their neighborhood of Little Village. From 311 call data about abandoned buildings, Enlace got their first looks into how neighborhood wellness correlated with their efforts.
More important than the visualizations and insights that came out over the weekend were the collaborations. These micro-communities of non-profits, government officials, and statisticians made for dream teams that were able to utilize government data to solve real problems. Many of the teams continue to work together and will carry the projects beyond the weekend. We are only at the beginning of a revolution in data’s valuable applications for social change. We are heartened to see the government working not to be the authority, but an equal player and a leader in coaxing the value out of open data.
Jake Porway is the Executive Director of DataKind.
It’s been just over two months since 1871 opened its doors on May 2nd and welcomed the first round of digital startups. To say we have some incredible companies (and of course people) “living here”, would be an understatement. The excitement, idea generation, networking, mentorship, support and pure adrenaline that fill the space everyday are so exciting to watch. So with that in mind, we wanted to create an opportunity to let others meet and hear from some of the great entrepreneurs in and around 1871 as they share their insights on fostering digital startup success.
Today, we are releasing the first video in a series called #MeetTheStartups. With over 100 companies working out of 1871 already, #MeetTheStartups tries to capture some of the excitement of a growing startup ecosystem.
Thanks to our entrepreneur participants in this video: Chuck Templeton of OpenTable, Genevieve Theirs of Sittercity/Contact Karma, Erik Severinghaus of SimpleRelevance, Justin Massa of Food Genius, Phil Leslie of ProOnGo, Chris Jaeger of Rentstuff.com, Rick Desai of Dashfire and Cayse Llorens of CelebTango.
Tune in next week as #MeetTheStartups continues to share the stories and advice of the emerging entrepreneurs in our tech community.
This morning we hosted a breakfast at 1871 for entrepreneurs and members of the investment community in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank in Chicago, the Angel Resource Institute, and data powered by CB Insights. The most recent edition of the Halo Report was shared with the audience – a project that highlights angel group investment activity and emerging trends throughout the United States and provides more sought after data that has not been previously available to entrepreneurs or early stage investors.
Last Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited 1871 for a press conference and to tour this digital startup center. The Mayor and his team have been huge supporters of the effort to build 1871 – particularly his CTO John Tolva, CIO Brett Goldstein, and World Business Chicago – especially Director of Technology Development Dan Lyne.
The Mayor first visited the Code Academy class with Mike & Neal:
And then spent time with startups while walking through the space like Jeremiah at Groovebug:
At the press conference in the 1871 auditorium, Mayor Emanuel announced a doubling in the ThinkChicago program to 100 students in partnership with Chicago Ideas Week and the University of Illinois. Guests speakers included the founder of Chicago Ideas Week, Brad Keywell, and the President of the University of Illinois, Dr. Robert Easter – both of whom have been big supporters in building 1871. In addition, a recent graduate of IIT, Neil Gupta, who grew up in Silicon Valley, spoke about his experience in ThinkChicago last year and how it gave him the tools and connections to stay in Chicago to build his startup – Tabule. If you know some awesome students, please encourage them to apply to ThinkChicago now!