1871 http://www.1871.com Where digital startups get their start Tue, 01 Sep 2015 22:11:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 the.1871.scoop 08.27.15 http://www.1871.com/the-1871-scoop-08-27-15/ http://www.1871.com/the-1871-scoop-08-27-15/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 22:28:49 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13317 Welcome to the.1871.scoop – your source for interesting news from the 1871 team, members and friends. From mergers to member ... » Continue]]> Welcome to the.1871.scoop – your source for interesting news from the 1871 team, members and friends. From mergers to member opportunities, this is the new place to stay updated on all things 1871. Contact Melissa Wooten: @1871Chicago

Helping students learn that double negatives are a no-no: Just in time for their second anniversary, ThinkCERCA was recently highlighted by Bill Gates as an example of technology that is improving the quality of education. Check out his blog here, and be sure to congratulate the ThinkCERCA team on their amazing accomplishments over the past two years! @ThinkCERCA | @BillGates

Uniting to support entrepreneurs: 1871 joined Virgin Hotels Chicago and Virgin Unite on Thursday for the Chicago Startup Summit, an event focused on helping young entrepreneurs create businesses that succeed financially while also creating positive change around the world. 1871 CEO Howard Tullman discussed the importance of hard work and perseverance as an entrepreneur during his morning talk to the group, and 1871 member company Firelily pitched during the event’s afternoon session. bit.ly/1EmOcz8 | @firelilyfund | @tullman | @virginhotelschi

For when you can’t pastably think of what to make for dinner: Congrats to 1871 member company Recipe Rack, which just announced the launch of their app that helps users discover recipes with the ingredients they have on hand. In addition to making it easy to find and save recipes, the company also aims to reduce food waste by making use of the ingredients that might otherwise be thrown away. Check out the company here, and be sure to congratulate them on their launch! @RecipeRack

Unconfirmed judge: the little girl from Finding Nemo: Chicago Ideas Week is coming up! As part of the event, Silicon Valley Bank and Microsoft are hosting “Piranha Tank”, a pitch contest featuring a winning cash prize of $7,500. The contest gives entrepreneurs a chance to make a 5 minute presentation of their business to a panel of five “Piranhas”, followed by a Q&A session. To apply, submit a one page executive summary by Monday, September 14 to chicagoevents@svb.com. @chicagoideas

Apply over your afternoon biscuit and cuppa: Interested in expanding your business to the UK? FinTech startups are invited to apply for the upcoming UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Mission to the UK this December. Selected companies will receive discounted flights, complimentary tickets to FinTech Connect Live, specialized programming on expanding in the UK, and the opportunity to pitch in front of investors and meet with multinational financial companies. Attendees will also have the chance to visit Level39, one of 1871’s international incubator partners. Learn more and apply here.

Vote for your favorite Tech.Co(mpanies): Congrats to 1871 member companies Sorc’d and Urban Leash, which are in the running for Tech.Co’s Global Startup of the Year! Help them get to the final competition by voting online here. We’re thrilled to see so many members represented this year – Caysh is already a finalist from their winning pitches at Tech Cocktail’s Chicago Startup of the Year competition earlier this month. @TechCocktail

Jobs is my third favorite four letter word: Partnerships Coordinator (PopUp Republic) – Senior UI/UX Product Designer (SpotHero) – Senior UI/UX Designer (Tribe) – General Manager (Sprig) – Supply and Logistics Operations (Sprig) – Account Executive (Packback) – Lead Developer (BabyBin) – Third Founding Engineer (Classkick) – Senior .NET Developer (Factory Fix) – Senior Software Engineer (igolgi) – Lead Software Engineer (Mac and Mia) – Senior Django Developer (NextTier Education) – Front End Developer (NextTier Education) – VP of Engineering (Options Away) – Senior Python Engineer (Options Away) – Senior Front End Developer (Rippleshot) – Front End Developer (Zimit) – QA Engineer (Options Away). See a full list with job descriptions on our jobs site. bit.ly/1EdvfJq

Tweet of the Week:

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Welcome new members! Will Willford (Legistek Corporation) – Sarah Sekinger (10X Labs) – Sam McBride (RXBAR) – Nick Catalano (Organizing for Action) – Martha Buckley (Startup Institute) – Jess Goodwin (HYHAT LLC) – Sherri Outler (LEAP Innovations) – Christopher Graves (Learnmetrics) – Alvaro Corona (PowerUp Pillow) – Erin Figula (LEAP Innovations) – Alex Duchak – Greg Reda (Bright)

Just For Fun: Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with pop culture. Luckily, Wired has put together a list of 14 Pop Culture Masterpieces so that we don’t have to figure out what’s important to check out (and what we can go on pretending like we’ve seen or read even though we really haven’t). wrd.cm/1Ly7P7g

Birthdays this week: Monday 8/24 – Brian Busche (Blast Radius) – Gregg Cook (Technomath) – Tuesday 8/25 – Chris Glendenin (Choose Energy) – Wednesday 8/26 – Sarah Wallace (Startup Institute) – Thursday 8/27 – Akin Owolabi (Boundless) – Paul Gustafson (ProximusIQ) – Valerie Dao (A Better Chicago) – Saturday 8/29 – Jeremy Klein (TableSAVVY)

*Don’t see your birthday here? Make sure you fill out your Weave the People Profile!

Photo of the Week: Students from Coder Space visit 1871 to learn more about Chicago’s tech startup ecosystem. The students have spent the summer learning to code by building websites for small businesses in their communities.

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Photo Credit: Gregory Rothstein, 1871/Cloudspotter

Essential Links: @1871Chicago | http://www.1871.com | weavethepeople.com/w/1871/2015/ | http://www.facebook.com/1871Chicago

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Meet Our First WiSTEM Cohort: Parminder Batra, Rose Afriyie, and Holly Bellmund http://www.1871.com/meet-our-first-wistem-cohort-parminder-batra-rose-afriyie-and-holly-bellmund/ http://www.1871.com/meet-our-first-wistem-cohort-parminder-batra-rose-afriyie-and-holly-bellmund/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:23:05 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13190 Following 1871’s announcement of the thirteen inaugural members of our WiSTEM cohort, we will be profiling each of the accomplished women entrepreneurs ... » Continue]]> Following 1871’s announcement of the thirteen inaugural members of our WiSTEM cohort, we will be profiling each of the accomplished women entrepreneurs who are joining the program. Learn more about three of the first WiSTEM members below:

imagesParminder Batra  – Co-Founder and CEO, Sekure Trak, Inc./TraknProtect

Tell us about what your business does.

TraknProtect is a hardware tracking solution that allows busy hotels to track equipment such as rollaway beds, cribs and other items that improve guest experience anywhere on the property so that hotels can do what they do best – exceed customer expectations.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I became an entrepreneur because I saw that, as an entrepreneur, I could create something that could help people know what they have and where it is and alleviate stress – particularly for professional women and busy moms – which was our initial target market until we pivoted into the B2B market.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Just go for it – you could spend the rest of your life second-guessing yourself, but you won’t know what you need to do differently until you actually do it.”

How has being a woman impacted how you have developed your business?

I have realized that there are both opportunities and obstacles that are particular to women. There is a growing awareness that women as entrepreneurs are underserved in terms of investment —which is both an obstacle and opportunity to be part of the change! Also, I have been at both ends where as a woman of a non-technical background, I have been undermined by vendors, developers etc. but the same has also given me an opportunity to ask questions which are innocuous on their face but “dangerous” as I have been told, because they challenge the premise of their assumptions.

rose-headshotRose Afriyie – Co-Founder and CEO, mRelief

Tell us about what your business does.

mRelief is dedicated to fixing the broken American welfare system that leaves the most vulnerable without access to available public assistance. mRelief has reduced eligibility determination time by 75 percent by simplifying the qualifying process with an easy-to-use form of 7.5 questions through our website application at mrelief.com and our SMS application at 773-377-8946. The online public assistance programs include food stamps, free transit for the aging and disabled, emergency rental assistance, healthcare (All Kids, Medicaid, and Medicare Cost Sharing), cash assistance (TANF and AABD) and childcare programs (WIC, Head Start and Child Care Vouchers). After the user fills out the necessary information, they are directed to community or government resources based on their eligibility indicators and zipcode through a partnership we have with Purple Binder. mRelief provides users with information about whether the user should invest the time in the application process. Users who are undocumented or have a specific case are referred to paralegals who can help. We work daily to make our forms more inclusive. Having already processed over 22,000 texts, mRelief has already made an impact on thousands of families.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I have been an entrepreneur since I started freelance writing for pay at 19. It has a lot of the key components: pitching your piece, getting a lot of noes, getting some yeses, negotiating your contract and delivering on your project — on time. It really helped me build a habit I use often as a co-founder of mRelief. I am also standing on the shoulders of giants. I am named after one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in Ghanaian history and plan to continue the tradition.

How is your company making a difference in the community?

The core of our business is creating the path of least resistance to accessing social services for low-income families. Yet, our tools have had a tremendous impact on people we also hold in high regard: case workers. These are the empathy soldiers on the front lines who specialize in creating solutions for the most intimate challenges a family can face. Sometimes, case workers can be bogged down with the paperwork and manual tasks that take away from the holistic care they were trained to provide. When we say that mRelief reduces eligibility determination time by 75 percent, we are giving minutes back to each family to talk about some of the root causes of the challenges they face and troubleshooting this with some of the most experienced professionals in the business.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My mother always says that little drops of water make a mighty ocean. It really has biased me towards incremental change and the notion that there are actions I must take daily to grow my business that over time will pay off tremendously.

E9hr8b7VHolly Bellmund – Founder and CEO, Werenro Group

Tell us about what your business does.

iTravel Benefits is a workplace benefit for travel. We offer companies a way to help their employees plan, save and take vacation.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I wanted to bring this business to life. As someone who loves to travel for vacation and also must travel to see my family, it’s a benefit that I wanted when I worked for a large company. After years of working hard for large companies, I felt that the highest and best use of my time was to build something of my own.

Has being a woman affected how you’ve created and developed your business?

I can say that being the daughter of an entrepreneur has been a touchstone. My dad, Tom Hutton, was an entrepreneur whose company made the Inc. 500 small business list twice in the 1980s. He has been a role model for me and continues to advise me on iTravel Benefits.

Tell us about something funny that has happened to you since becoming an entrepreneur.

After I became an entrepreneur I realized how good the movie Tommy Boy is to describe how hard it can be to get out and sell something for the first time. When Chris Farley and David Spade crisscross the country making sales and completely flopping until they finally close a deal, I really get that. I haven’t set anyone’s desk on fire…yet.

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Tullman: 3 New Retailing Concepts You Need To Learn Now http://www.1871.com/tullman-3-new-retailing-concepts-you-need-to-learn-now/ http://www.1871.com/tullman-3-new-retailing-concepts-you-need-to-learn-now/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 02:28:13 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13308 By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/howard-tullman-youd-better-learn-these-3-retail-concepts.html

Customer segmentation has been an essential business ... » Continue]]> By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/howard-tullman-youd-better-learn-these-3-retail-concepts.html

Customer segmentation has been an essential business practice for ages. In fact, the age or age ranges of various customers have always been one of the more obvious ways in which merchants and other service providers could slice and dice their potential consumer and business targets. Gender, geography, graduation levels, income levels and other broad parameters could be distinctly and differently identified and addressed in bulk. Credit, race, political views and other less politically correct characterizations also made their way into the calculations as often as not.

But, as with everything else today, new and better personalization data and other measurement and location-sensitive identification tools are rapidly changing the game and the ground rules for sales success. It’s not enough to know who I am and what I’m interested in — although that’s a decent starting point. Mass customization is the minimum goal and very little will be left to deal with in grossly simplistic terms, or in bulk, because every consumer today wants to believe that they’re being treated as individuals. They want to make their purchasing decisions by the bite or the byte on a one-off basis. One size no longer fits almost anyone and the greatest sin of all is to take any of your customers or prospects for granted.

At the same time, what is still somewhat surprising in this all-digital, all-the-time world is that — in addition to the new learnings that data can now provide about each customer’s desires and objectives, which will further increase our ability to customize offers — many of the consequences, strategies and prescriptions growing out of the latest research are primarily physical in nature rather than digital.

Think of this as the latest version of “retail revisited” — not as a fad or even a trend, but as a major shift in the ways that traditional retail space will need to accommodate new customer requirements. (See The Future of Self-Service. We’ll be building new and different spaces containing smaller, more personal, environments that will best suit the new mobile and constantly-connected customers whom we expect to attract. These new spaces will also permit us to adapt on the fly to the desires of each and every entrant — new or returning — based on their immediate needs.

Comprehensive use of demographic data will be useful, but no longer a competitive differentiation. And even basic “interest” and social information (far more critical today than mere customer attributes) won’t be sufficient to win the battle because the new behavior drivers won’t be uniform or consistent, even on an individual basis. Some expected, routine and consistent behaviors that are fairly reliable will be ascertainable, but the real winners will understand that — each time a customer now appears — it’s essentially a brand-new day dictated and determined in the moment by the customer’s then-dominant and most pressing desires.

Customers will continue to fall into new distinct categories, but the categories will vary over time in significant ways. My shorthand for these variable behaviors is to think of them as “objectives.” What’s the customer’s goal and how can the environment and the staff best facilitate the success of the customer’s quest to achieve it? (See What’s Wrong With Retail And What Does It Mean For You.) In a sense, this is simply an effort to peel the consumer onion a little more and get tighter and tighter views, but at the moment no one is even thinking about looking at the customer through this new lens.

And while some “goal” creep and overlapping or inconsistent desires are certain to occur for some customers, once you start organizing your thinking around this new perspective, you’re going to find that it’s fairly easy to understand and appreciate its importance, but very complicated to execute in store. It’s simple to see because it’s absolutely applicable to you and me as well as to everyone else, but it’s hard to address all the different requirements of the various individuals.

Here are some of the competing profiles and customer expectations that the retail environments of tomorrow (which actually means right now) will need to accommodate. Now’s the time to start thinking about how your business or service can address them.

1. Mission (In and Out) versus Discovery (Time to Explore & Learn)

Time is the scarcest resource of all today and mission-driven shoppers want to be in and out of the store as quickly as possible. It’s instant gratification and it demands express checkout lines manned by real people. Shoppers hate self-checkout systems, which they know takes twice as long as manned ones for the few items they have purchased. ATMs are a whole lot faster and easier than tellers, but scanners are still slow and difficult.

Explorers, on the other hand are willing to commit the time to find new and unusual offerings, experiment with new choices and learn about new alternatives. They’re the pioneers of the entertainment economy, where the experience is the most important aspect of the encounter. These are the ripest targets for in-store sampling, demo stations, special offers and even videos. They’re in the food lane, not the fast lane. And it’s a phenomena that’s by no means limited to groceries. You know the times are changing when the quality of a new car’s sound system and its WiFi connectivity are as (or more) important to the purchasing decision as the car’s performance.

2. Choice (Super Selection) versus Convenience (Front and Center – Grab and Go)

A significant amount of research has explored the paralyzing effect of too many choices. The so-called tyranny of choice often results in no choice at all — and this problem sets up another challenge for retailers. Overwhelming the consumer with massive displays and emphasizing selection works for some folks, but it can be very off-putting to the brand-loyal customer who knows just what he or she wants. We’re going to see mini-stores within the bigger boxes, but not ones dedicated to marketers like Microsoft or Samsung or P&G. The minis will be choice-constrained and filled with the most frequently and consistently purchased items so I can grab what I need and get out. Using the back walls of the big box for dairy products to pull the shopper through the stores is a strategy that just won’t work any longer for a significant segment of the audience. In fact, more and more customers will be ordering bulk items and commodities through online subscription or fulfillment services and not trying to drag the same stuff home from the market every week.

3. Click and Pick (Drive-Thru) versus Park and Party (Time to Kill)

Same day delivery is coming soon (one hour delivery for Amazon Prime customers is already rolling out), but it still may not be fast enough to beat what’s exploding all over Europe. Click (buy online) and pick (drive to the store to get it) has become amazingly popular — especially with moms who’d rather throw the kids in the car and make three quick pickups at her favorite stores, without parking, instead of sitting at home and hoping for the delivery guy to show. Several major retailers’ reported that more than 30% of holiday sales last season were in-store pickups of goods ordered online and the trend continues to accelerate. But again, that approach only serves some shoppers. A different set goes to the store because they have nothing else to do. They’re anxious to lose themselves in a store because they’ve got time to kill and nowhere else important to be. They’ll be quick to grab a bite at in-store food service operations — not because they’re famished — but because they’re anxious to get off their feet. Locating the snack shops at the front of the store — beyond the registers and post-checkout– is another design idea whose time has come and gone.

There are plenty of additional examples and there’s not a business around that won’t do far better by adapting its space to accommodate all these variable demands and — at the same time — adapts its sales approach to each customer’s specific goals. Figuring out what’s driving each customer isn’t that hard, but if you aren’t focused on finding this out, your customers will quickly find someplace else that has.

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Workshops that Make a Difference in the World http://www.1871.com/workshops-that-make-a-difference-in-the-world/ http://www.1871.com/workshops-that-make-a-difference-in-the-world/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:44:04 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13260 By 1871 SVP of Programming George Vukotich

A few months back one of our members at 1871, Tamara Habib from ... » Continue]]> By 1871 SVP of Programming George Vukotich

A few months back one of our members at 1871, Tamara Habib from Firelily (a crowdfunding platform for donors who want to help with disasters), recommended I have one of her colleagues from Field Innovation Team do a workshop on disaster response.

Just before the workshop was scheduled to take place, the earthquake in Nepal hit. We quickly went from having a workshop on how to respond to disasters which had a goal of helping startups get creative in responding to a real world situation where help was needed.

Desi from Field Innovation Team began the workshop by discussing how her team is working with WomenLEAD, a Nepalese academy for young women to empower and amplify service in their communities for response and recovery efforts. They are also providing resources to relief organizations and would be collaborating with a Sherpa community in the remote mountains to assist with the rebuild after 90% of the homes in their town were destroyed. The workshop continued with a group discussion on the ways in which technology could be utilized to assist in the relief efforts and build a global network around creating social good.

The resulting workshop that took place was not one with the largest attendance, but may have been the one with the most global impact out of 1871 so far. Two of the people who attended the program, Pranav Satyal and Sweta Basmet, are originally from Nepal and ended up working with Desi to locally support the relief effort.

If you would like more information about what Desi and her team do, contact her at desiree@fieldinnovationteam.org

1871 provides a number of workshops exclusively for our members to develop new skills. If you are interested in taking advantage of these educational opportunities, check out our membership page for more information on becoming an 1871 member. If you are interested in becoming a mentor at 1871, email programming@1871.com.

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Tullman: Job Jumpers Need Not Apply http://www.1871.com/tullman-job-jumpers-need-not-apply/ http://www.1871.com/tullman-job-jumpers-need-not-apply/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 18:46:45 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13272 By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/howard-tullman/job-jumpers-employee-retention.html

Even if you’re in the tech industry, ... » Continue]]> By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/howard-tullman/job-jumpers-employee-retention.html

Even if you’re in the tech industry, the technology itself isn’t what sets the best businesses apart. People–dedicated, passionate, committed, and hard-working–ultimately will make the difference between success and so-what. It’s your team members making smart applications of technologies to solve important and substantial business problems that will set your company apart. That’s why finding, attracting, hiring, retaining, and fairly compensating the best and brightest folks is the only way to assure your future.

But it’s not simply about hiring super smart people. It’s also about having people with the right mindset and attitude, people who want to stick around and do the heavy lifting that it takes to make a difference and build a real business. It doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why an ounce of loyalty these days is worth a pound of cleverness. Particularly in the tech space today, we have a highly mobile work force with fewer geographic ties than ever before; fewer constraints, commitments, and obligations; and a much higher propensity to jump from job to job, often for the cash and the perks–but also for the sheer accumulation of diverse work experiences.

So, especially for new companies, the single most crucial component of the HR equation is retention. (That’s why I think it’s so great to build a business in Chicago, where people better appreciate the value of long-term commitment than they do in the Valley, where everything seems to be about quick scores and compensation.) Frankly, if your employees are always looking for their next job, a new title, and a bump in comp, they’re not taking care of your business in the way they should.

The Importance of Commitment

But too many companies make the mistake of thinking that increasing retention is a product of something that you can actively do to people. This is the same fallacious reasoning that leads old-time college professors to believe that the measure of their success is what and how they teach, when in fact it’s what their students learn that really matters. No one commits to a company anymore–they commit to other talented people whom they want to work with; they commit to solving challenging and substantial problems; and–in the best places–they commit to ideas that are bigger and more important than themselves.

These are fundamentally internal and often emotional considerations–not something that’s driven by décor, desserts, drinks, or dogma–and not something that companies can manufacture or manipulate. You need to have people in your business who are loyal beyond reason, because building a new business is tough in every way. And real results aren’t ever the product of rules and regulations and orders–they’re the product of commitment and–even more important–perseverance. So if your workers have one foot out the door and their eyes on some other prize, you’re not building the foundation that you need for the future.

When you’re first starting your business–when it’s just an idea–it’s all about the story and contagious enthusiasm. But as you start building your business, it’s all about the long haul–perseverance, perspiration, and execution. To win over the long term takes character, grit, and heart. And it takes a firm commitment, not a drive-by or toe-in-the-water approach. And not just in words or cheap talk, but an all-in spirit. It’s like a bacon and eggs breakfast. The chicken makes a contribution; the pig makes a commitment.

Weeding Out the Job Jumpers

Ultimately, it comes down to this: You can set the stage; you can create the surroundings; and you can certainly say all the right things, but you can’t make a commitment for anyone but yourself. And there are very few tools to help you in this process; there are no spreadsheets or budget line items or litmus tests for these kinds of strengths and choices. Although, when you’ve been at it for a while, it’s easier than you would think to figure out who’s not a keeper. So what is it that you can do to tip the scales in your favor?

In the end, all you can really do–as Bruce Springsteen would say–is to try to make an honest stand. Tell your people what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Tell them what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish that goal and what you expect of them as well. Tell them the truth and the costs of getting there–whatever those costs may be. And hang on dearly to the ones who step forward and sign up.

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Tullman: 4 Reasons Democracy Adds Up to Mediocrity http://www.1871.com/tullman-4-reasons-democracy-adds-up-to-mediocrity/ http://www.1871.com/tullman-4-reasons-democracy-adds-up-to-mediocrity/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:39:26 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13270 By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/Howard-tullman-four-reasons-democracy-ads-up-to-mediocrity.html

We hear a lot of disparaging comments ... » Continue]]> By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/Howard-tullman-four-reasons-democracy-ads-up-to-mediocrity.html

We hear a lot of disparaging comments these days about the hyper-inclusive management style of many early-stage businesses–how it’s hindering their progress and growth. I’m sure you’ve heard some of these statements as well, and they’re not all simply unhappy whiners or sour grapes. In many cases, it’s a serious issue and, as the workforce continues to get younger, it’s going to become a bigger problem. Oversharing is fixable for the most part, but only if addressed, explained, clarified and resolved in a straightforward and honest manner. People like to know who’s actually leading the charge in their company, and where the business is headed, as well as what their own roles are– what’s expected and not expected of them. But, in some young and fast-growing companies, because so much of the organization is in flux, it’s hard to determine who’s actually running things and who can make a binding decision. If the finality of decisions turns on who’s loudest or last to get in the face of the CEO, the place is doomed.

A lot of this carping may just be background noise, but there’s also substance to these discussions that’s definitely worth thinking about. You hear wisecracks about founders letting “the inmates run the asylum” in the name of equality or democracy and that, as a result, those businesses are headed right into the ground. Or you read angry rants about the need to “get the amateurs off the field” so that the real professionals can take over. I don’t really think that this is just an age thing or purely the province of people who are fundamentally resistant to change. It’s more philosophical than that and has much more to do with figuring out a good governance strategy for your company than it does with gray hair.

And, as easy as it would be to write these conversations off as just the latest manifestation of the generational conflicts that are seemingly rampant today, it’s a much harder argument to make when you’re talking about startups, where there really aren’t as many age gaps as you might find in larger and more established businesses. Just because most of the people in your business are roughly the same age doesn’t automatically mean that they’re in accord about how, and who, should run the show and who should be included in decision-making.

It’s less an age thing and more a culture thing that depends largely on where they’ve been and where they’re coming from, and actually how they were raised. There are plenty of people who buy into ideas like radical transparency and complete information sharing or participatory management at all levels. Too bad they haven’t necessarily tried to manage systems like this. Instead, they’ve heard about them without having seen how badly some of these experiments have gone. You can be totally sincere and very passionate about your feelings, but still be completely wrong about what’s good for the business. And the sooner you get straightened out, the happier and more productive you’ll be. Or, if it’s not for you, you’ll be gone. Organizations can grow through adoption or attrition – either way works. You can get with the program or you can go elsewhere.

And frankly, it’s not really your call anyway. Good businesses aren’t run by majority rule. You may all be in the same bed, but everyone’s got their own dreams and their own obligations and responsibilities. Collaboration and community and Kumbuya are all cool things, but–in a crunch or a crisis– it’s the CEO’s job to make the hard calls and everyone else’s job to line up behind the decision and execute the plan. Period. Full stop.

At a certain point, even for the CEO, seeking more input is as much about putting off the tough calls as it is about arming yourself with more ammunition. Expanding the decision set and waiting to decide almost never results in a better outcome. Better to make the best decision you can based on the available data at the time than delaying until a crisis sets in that limits choices and offers less attractive options.

And, as it turns out, data acquisition and evaluation issues are actually the less challenging parts of the problem. The bigger and more difficult issue has to do with managing the expectations and emotions of your people. This is where the wickets can quickly get sticky and where no good deed ever goes unpunished. You can repeatedly explain things to people, but you can’t understand for them. It’s very hard to tell someone that their participation isn’t required, or that their input isn’t being solicited, without essentially telling them that their opinions don’t matter and yet that’s basically the exact truth – at least in some areas of the business. This is especially difficult today because (particularly in a new business) everyone considers themselves an expert on almost everything.

Bottom line: it’s always going to be hard to tell people what they don’t want to hear and it’s never going to get easier, but it’s essential to the integrity and effectiveness of your decision-making and your company’s operation. And while no two situations or businesses are exactly alike, there are a few critical considerations that you-; as the boss and the one ultimately accountable for the final decisions and the consequences need to take into account.

1) Democracy in decision-making is diverting and delusional

If everything that’s up for discussion is also up for grabs because it’s subject to further changes, second-guessing, and unending debate and everyone in the place is entitled to not merely an opinion, but a vote on everything, nothing worthwhile will ever get done. This creates major roadblocks (both inside and outside the business) to getting the right things done in a timely fashion. As I wrote in an earlier INC. piece, it’s pretty clear to anyone with any real management experience that not everything in any business is everyone’s business. See With This Much “Help,” You’ll Never Get Anything Done.

Not everyone’s opinion is necessary or valuable; not everyone’s ideas are great or need to be considered; not everyone knows what they’re talking about; and, in any event, consistent unanimity is never essential to a strong and effective decision-making process. It’s just another fantasy from the four guys who started in the garage. All for one and one for all is fine for a slogan, but having too many cooks in the kitchen makes for some very sorry soup.

2) Democracy in meetings is demoralizing and debilitating

Meetings don’t run themselves unless they’re being run by morons. There needs to be a meeting leader and the leader needs to be a good listener, but even more than that, he or she needs to be a good chooser and a great editor. It’s also not a popularity contest. It doesn’t have to be a rude process, but it does have to be ruthless in protecting the purpose of the meeting, moving things along, cutting off people who are off track or off message, and managing the outcome of the discussion in the time allotted. Democracy in meetings is not a value in and of itself and trying to pretend otherwise is a waste of everyone’s time and dysfunctional as well. Business meetings are neither occupational therapy sessions nor venues for free expression. If they have a valuable purpose at all, it’s about getting things discussed and decided and not about giving everyone in the room scrupulously equal air time to express themselves. In meetings, it’s a lot better to make one person unhappy than to suck the life out of the entire group by making them suffer through someone’s enthusiastic, but stupid, suggestions

3) Democracy in design is dumb

Style and design talents aren’t equally distributed in the general population and certainly not among the employees in your company. Quite the opposite. There are very few people who are really good at these things. That’s why you find and employ them. You need to commit to and trust a talented design team and express a simple vision and set of objectives to them and then get out of their way. This isn’t a class project where everybody gets a try. I’ve concluded that design committees are the singly most useless entities in the history of collaborative enterprise and– without exception–result in wasted time and money as well as a crappy outcome. That’s because they operate on two equally stupid principles: (a) the design which is least objectionable to the most people on the committee will be the best design; and (b) if each committee member gets something incorporated into the design that is near and dear to his or her heart, then everyone on the committee will be happy and that’s all that really matters. The quality of the design is subordinated to the comfort and convenience of the committee.

4) Democracy in dollars is demotivating and destructive

People aren’t stupid, and trying to paint them all with the same brush or compensate them all in roughly the same way is the quickest way to lose your best people and demotivate even the good ones, who stay while they’re looking for their next job. (See the very unhappy experiences of Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments, who tried to scale up the pay of everyone in his company to at least $70k a year, for a very cautionary tale.) We used to call the folks who stuck around, but stopped caring “people who quit without leaving” and they are super-bad for your business. You’ve got to pay people what each of them is really worth in terms of both their value and their contributions (as well as their judgment and experience) and you’ve got to make it clear to the rest of the team that this is exactly how the world should work. The people who contribute the most (not necessarily those who simply work the most) are the ones who will earn the most. And even more to the point–people with highly-specialized and valuable skills are often worth a multiple of what you might be paying other team members–especially in our highly-competitive talent market. If people don’t think that’s fair, they’re free to go work elsewhere.

There’s a reason that democracy rhymes with mediocrity. Compromise and consensus are at the core of democracy, but they have almost nothing to do with creativity or with supporting and promoting the kinds of singular visions and ideas that are most likely to change the world.

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the.1871.scoop 08.13.15 http://www.1871.com/the-1871-scoop-08-13-15/ http://www.1871.com/the-1871-scoop-08-13-15/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 17:02:28 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13232 Welcome to the.1871.scoop – your source for interesting news from the 1871 team, members and friends. From mergers to member ... » Continue]]> Welcome to the.1871.scoop – your source for interesting news from the 1871 team, members and friends. From mergers to member opportunities, this is the new place to stay updated on all things 1871. Contact Melissa Wooten: @1871Chicago

Spread the word: On Monday, 1871-based mRelief and the City of Chicago launched the Early Learning Finder, a online and text message app that helps parents navigate early learning services and programs throughout the city. By typing “Hello” to 773-377-8946 parents can explore eligibility for early learning programs, identify sites that are nearest to their location, and find extra resources if they don’t qualify for certain programs. Congrats to mRelief co-founder Rose Afriyie, a member of WiSTEM, on this latest accomplishment! bit.ly/1JVIVPO | @mRelief_form

Assembling lean startups: 1871 has partnered with General Assembly to help send two lucky winners to the Lean Startup Conference in California! The event, a meeting of some of the most successful minds in tech, is scheduled to take place November 16-19. Select applicants can win roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations, all-access passes to the conference, one-on-one mentoring with Lean Startup mentors, and a number of other special opportunities. Submit your application here by Wednesday, September 30. @GA | @GA_Chicago

Finalists in FINtech: 1871 member Rippleshot has been selected as a finalist in the seventh annual BBVA Open Talent 2015 USA competition. The competition looks for the companies that have the greatest potential to transform the financial services industry. Rippleshot was also named as a finalist for the 2015 ITA CityLIGHTS Trailblazing Award, which recognizes companies that have developed an innovative way of doing business or creating culture that has produced significant value and growth for the company. The winners for both awards will be announced in mid-September. Watch this space for updates! bit.ly/1P9LwoZ | @Rippleshot

Hive never been more excited for the future of education! 1871 welcomed LEAP Innovations, Mozilla’s Hive Learning Networks, and the U.S. Department of Education for a two-day gathering of educators, policy–makers, investors, foundations and researchers. The event brought together thought leaders and practitioners to share best practices for creating powerful and innovative cross–sector collaborations, and concluded with a pitch fest featuring EDtech companies. Highlights included an intro on Chicago EDtech from 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman, a visit from Mayor Emanuel, and the innovative solutions presented by each of the presenting companies. prn.to/1DQhvd8 | @leapinchicago | @hivechicagobuzz

They’re from Istanbul (Not Constantinople): We are thrilled to join the Sente International Startup Accelerator in welcoming the fourth cohort of Turkish startups to 1871! The eight companies will spend three weeks at 1871 developing their businesses before presenting at a Demo Day on August 20. Learn more about each of the eight startups here, and be sure to RSVP for the demo day here (it’s in the 1871 Auditorium, it’s free, AND there will be delicious Turkish food.)

To tell somebody that he/she is wrong is called criticism. To do so officially is called testing: Congrats to 1871 member BAD TESTING, which was named one of the 25 Most Promising QA/Testing Services Vendors in 2015 by a national B2B outsourcing magazine. Check out the write-up (and great headshot courtesy of 1871 in-house photographer Greg Rothstein) here. @BadTesting

DV X Labs: Join DV X Labs on Monday evening to welcome the newest members of their EDtech incubator at 1871 and to celebrate the progress of their first cohort. This is not only a great networking opportunity, but also a chance to gain some expert insight from DeVry leaders. RSVP here!

Jobs is my third favorite four letter word: Senior UI/UX Product Designer (SpotHero) – Senior UI/UX Designer (Tribe) – Chief Operating Officer (Rippleshot) – General Manager (Sprig) – Supply and Logistics Operations (Sprig) – Associate Product Manager (SpotHero) – Senior .NET Developer (BayBee, LLC – Earnhoney.com) – Lead Developer (BabyBin) – Third Founding Engineer (Classkick) – Senior .NET Developer (Factory Fix) – Senior Software Engineer (igolgi) – Lead Software Engineer (Mac and Mia) – Senior Django Developer (NextTier Education) – Front End Developer (NextTier Education) – Senior Front End Developer (Rippleshot) – Front End Developer (Zimit) – QA Engineer (Options Away). See a full list with job descriptions on our jobs site. bit.ly/1EdvfJq

Tweet of the Week:

 Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 5.18.16 PM

 

Welcome new members! Eve Tulbert (Planet Lab) – Andy Pai (Levered Returns) – Jeff Chen (Luxe) – David Paykin (EarnHoney) – Hannah Ehrlich (Cloudspotter) – Ankit Maheshwari (Betaout) – Eva Simon – Ryan Forquer (Infiniscene) – Erica Lurie (Georama) – Jason Bushman (Options Away) – Carrie Chaffee (Urban Leash) – Brian Dentino (Levered Returns) – Pablo Mitre (College Town Tutor) 

Just For Fun: Suárez, Pelé, Messi, and…Gung the Elephant? In honor of World Elephant Day earlier this week, check out this elephant showing off his soccer skills thanks to a custom-fitted GoPro. on.mash.to/1EnQAQV

Birthdays last week: Monday 8/10 – Nick Petit (Kahoots) – Cameron Croft (Youtopia) – Wednesday 8/12 – Sidonia Rose Swarm (On Demand Dietitian) – Laura Holmes (ThinkCERCA) – Thursday 8/13 – Paul Lewis (Firelily) – Samer Saab (Unbranded Designs) – Annie Gant (Red Granite LLC) – Saturday 8/15 – David Lambert (Waitbot)

*Don’t see your birthday here? Make sure you fill out your Weave the People Profile!

Photo of the Week: Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani tours 1871 before meeting with the Girls Who Code class and members of WiSTEM.

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Photo Credit: Gregory Rothstein, 1871/Cloudspotter

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Tullman: Why Facebook Graph Search Is Huge for Start-ups http://www.1871.com/tullman-why-facebook-graph-search-is-huge-for-start-ups/ http://www.1871.com/tullman-why-facebook-graph-search-is-huge-for-start-ups/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 16:44:36 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13209 By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/howard-tullman/why-facebook-graph-search-is-huge-for-start-ups.html

I’ve been worried for a while about ... » Continue]]> By 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. To view the original post, visit http://www.inc.com/howard-tullman/why-facebook-graph-search-is-huge-for-start-ups.html

I’ve been worried for a while about the so-called filter bubble–the process by which search engines tailor their results based on what they already know about you. Search used to be a window onto new worlds, but it’s becoming a mirror, merely reflecting back to us what we and our friends already know. Our peers are important, but how do you learn anything new?

I’ve also been concerned about the loss of serendipitous discovery–the sheer joy we feel at a bookstore (remember those?) or a flea market (remember those?) when we come across something new and amazing and totally unexpected, and it just makes our day. You didn’t even know you were looking for something, but you loved it when you found it. And, of course, in search terms, you could never have constructed a query to find something you weren’t seeking.

That’s why I’m excited about Facebook’s Graph Search. It will enable and enhance a lot of businesses (besides Facebook’s). That could include yours, once you understand some of the basics beneath the buzz.

Graph Search is a return to Facebook’s earliest days and, in fact, to its very origins. Even if everything you know about Facebook comes from the movie The Social Network, you know that at the beginning, Facebook was about finding pictures of the hottest women on campus. It wasn’t about women some guy already knew (search); it was about the women he wanted desperately to know (discovery).

Graph Search removes the blinders and filters from conscious search. It opens up a huge amount of additional material that was always there, making it more readily accessible. Broad content queries, constrained by the limiters and filters of who your friends are, provide an elegant way to get right to the heart of the interest graph.

How does this matter for business? Well, how much better would a Groupon deal do if in 10 seconds I could ask Facebook which of my friends were already participating in a particular deal? What if I could have Ticketmaster show me the seating charts for a particular concert, as well of which of my friends have bought tickets and where they are sitting?

Each of these components of the new Graph Search will change many of the ground rules for how (and whether) new and small businesses will be able to make themselves heard. It’s not going to be easier, but it will definitely be more interesting.

There’s a lot to learn about Graph Search. Three things to keep in mind:

Aggregation Graph Search does the heavy lifting for you and assembles the data and results of your friends’ likes, preferences and interests. You can build on your questions interactively and broaden or narrow them on the fly. Want to find single friends with MBAs who are living in San Francisco and working in the entertainment business? You got it in a flash.

Filters Instead of limiting your queries or your results in ways that were never really clear, filters now become helpful. They let you frame your selections, criteria and choices to avoid overwhelming and unwieldy results. You can dictate the limits of a query’s scope, time, location, images, etc. Looking for friends who loved Inglourious Basterds and are actually up for going to see Django Try that on Google.

Engagement For now, and this may change, assets like photos are “valued” and ranked and displayed in so-called “engagement order.” The more likes and comments a particular photo has, the more likely it will be surfaced. I think this criteria is in flux. Which photos are likely to drive the most activity? My guess is it’s the one that the person in the photo least wants circulated.

We’re headed into the next big burst of Facebook-enabled commerce. Millions of customers are going to be living within this Facebook economy and nowhere else. If you doubt that, just check out how many times the Facebook team repeated the idea that “you never have to leave Facebook” to get something accomplished online.

Here’s one last word of advice. Internally, two of the mantras used by the Facebook team when creating web content are: What will make them care? And, What will make them share? As you bring your products and services to market, keep these two questions top of mind.

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1871 and Sente International Startup Accelerator Welcome Leading Startups from Turkey http://www.1871.com/1871-and-sente-international-startup-accelerator-welcome-leading-startups-from-turkey/ http://www.1871.com/1871-and-sente-international-startup-accelerator-welcome-leading-startups-from-turkey/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:22:45 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13219

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 13, 2015

 

CONTACT
1871
Melissa ... » Continue]]> 1871_plate_logo_3in

sente

ITUGATE-LOGO-new-motto-1-

CHICAGO-logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 13, 2015

 

CONTACT
1871
Melissa Wooten
press@1871.com

 

Sente Advisory Services
Michaela Neatherton
michaela@sente-advisory.com

 

1871 AND SENTE INTERNATIONAL STARTUP ACCELERATOR WELCOME LEADING STARTUPS FROM TURKEY

Following launch of the Sente International Startup Accelerator at 1871, Turkish-founded startups complete ITU GATE Accelerator Program with business development, fundraising opportunities and a Demo Day at 1871

 

CHICAGO (August 13, 2015)—1871 and Sente Advisory Services welcomed eight Turkish startups to their headquarters at The Merchandise Mart last week for the ITU GATE Accelerator Program. The startups will spend three weeks in Chicago to pursue business development and fundraising opportunities before presenting at a Demo Day at 1871. This program marks the fourth time that Sente Advisory and 1871 have partnered to bring groups of Turkish-founded startups to 1871 from the ITU GATE Accelerator Program, and the first since the official launch of the Sente International Startup Accelerator at 1871.

“As the center of Chicago’s entrepreneurial community and the nation’s largest digital startup hub, 1871 is uniquely positioned to showcase the abundant resources that allow entrepreneurs from across the globe to come to Chicago and thrive,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “We are excited to welcome the fourth cohort of Turkish entrepreneurs in conjunction with Sente Advisory Services, and look forward to providing them with valuable experience and connections.”

The ITU GATE Accelerator Program begins with six weeks in Turkey, where twenty selected startups receive business education and personalized mentoring in Istanbul Technical University (ITU) Technology Park. After a Demo Day in Istanbul, eight startups are selected to execute business development and fundraising plans in the United States.

“These technology-based firms visit 1871 to connect to the global startup network and meet with investors,” said ITU Technology Park CEO Kenan Çolpan. “Our aim is to encourage the startups from the Turkish entrepreneurial ecosystem to obtain investment and to create global success stories.”

The companies work closely with the Sente Advisory team through scheduled individual meetings as well as informally in a collaborative work environment at 1871. After participating in a Demo Day in Chicago, the startups will visit San Francisco for one week and participate in a Demo Day at RocketSpace on August 27.

“Chicago’s vibrant technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem, with its access to talent, capital, and customers, make it the best place for international startups to launch their products and services in the US market,” said Sente Advisory founder Serhat Cicekoglu. “We are thrilled to welcome the eight startups from Turkey to 1871 as they begin to expand their businesses in the US through Chicago.”

The startups visiting 1871 include:

 

  • AppAnalytics: AppAnalytics is a mobile analytics solution that allows you to increase application sales and maximize engagement by measuring and tracking your users’ mobile experience – from aggregated heat maps to real-time.
  • Boni: Boni is a beacon-based platform for mobile applications to interact with physical world, providing indoor navigation for the visually impaired as well as other shopper marketing solutions.
  • EVAM: EVAM enables businesses to capture opportunities by using cutting edge technology to turn highly technical big and fast data concepts into simple every day business concepts. It is primarily used for real-time, event-driven marketing.
  • GullsEye: GullsEye is a terminal operating system software that accelerates container, roll-on/roll-off, general cargo, warehouse and indoor warehouse service processes in the ports. The visuals provided help facilitate jobs and work-flow, increasing productivity.
  • i2i: i2i Systems focuses on niche business support systems development. It delivers an invoice control system, SMARTICS, to help companies detect and diagnose problems on customer invoices along their charging and billing domains.
  • Repzone:Repzone is a cloud-based mobile sales force automation platform offering predictive analytics, enhanced collaboration and business discovery capabilities to field sales representatives in the consumer packaged goods industry.
  • Segmentify: Segmentify is a plug & play SaaS solution for e-commerce and content providers that helps increase visitor traction and converts visitors to customers through smart recommendations.
  • SESTEK: SESTEK (Speech Enabled Software Technologies) is a provider of speech-enabling solutions such as voice biometrics, call steering, text-to-speech and speech analytics.

Since its opening, 1871 has hosted thousands of foreign dignitaries and entrepreneurs seeking to explore the entrepreneurial and technology industries in Chicago. Last year, 1871 hosted twelve international startups for the US Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology Initiative (GIST), and more recently hosted eight Colombian IT firms to complete the TerraBridge Internationalization Project Boot Camp. Additionally, the recently launched Sente International Startup Accelerator at 1871 brings groups of international startups, including the current Turkish cohort, to 1871 for specialized programming designed to facilitate the development process for companies seeking to expand in the United States.

1871 also has formalized agreements with incubators and co-working spaces in London, Toronto, Tel Aviv and Mexico City. This ongoing international involvement not only highlights Chicago’s growing ecosystem for digital entrepreneurs, but also provides 1871 members with an expanding set of tools and resources so that they can remain globally competitive as they develop their businesses.

For more information or to attend the Demo Day in Chicago, please visit: paperless.ly/1IGwGVa.

About ITU & ITU ARI Teknokent 

Istanbul Technical University (ITU) has created the “ITU Entrepreneurship Ecosystem” to encourage the role of entrepreneurship in national development and continues to build on 242 years at the forefront of technical progress in Turkey. ITU ARI Teknokent is the Technology Park of ITU and works closely with startup companies to improve research and development on advanced technologies in Turkey. The ITU ARI Teknokent hub is situated in the heart of business life in Istanbul with over 160 companies and 5,200 employees.

           

About Sente Advisory Services (Sente)   

Founded in 2008, Sente provides incubation and accelerator services to startups in Turkey and other emerging startup ecosystems. Sente facilitates entry into US markets for startups with strong opportunities for business development and fundraising.

 

About 1871

1871 is the home of more than 325 early-stage, high-growth digital startups. Located in The Merchandise Mart, this 75,000 square foot facility is also the headquarters of nationally recognized accelerators, Techstars Chicago and Impact Engine; half a dozen industry-specific incubators in key areas such as real estate, education technology, food and financial technology; several emerging tech talent schools (Flatiron, The Fullbridge Program, Designation and the Startup Institute), and the state’s leading technology advocate, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition. It is the second home to Chicago-based VCs, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, MATH Venture Partners, Hyde Park Angels, OCA Ventures, OurCrowd and Chicago Ventures, as well as satellite offices for Northwestern University, University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and DeVry. 1871 has fast become recognized as the hub for the city’s entrepreneurial/technology ecosystem and has been featured in TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business among other top media. 1871 is the flagship project of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

 

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A.T. Kearney Providing Strategic Consulting Services to 1871 Companies http://www.1871.com/a-t-kearney-providing-strategic-consulting-services-to-1871-companies/ http://www.1871.com/a-t-kearney-providing-strategic-consulting-services-to-1871-companies/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 20:00:57 +0000 http://www.1871.com/?p=13211 By Gemma Holt, 1871 Summer Intern

 

1871 is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the first round of ... » Continue]]> By Gemma Holt, 1871 Summer Intern

 

1871 is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the first round of partnerships between global consulting firm A.T. Kearney and 1871 member companies Unbranded Designs, Heirlume, Savvo, and Let’s Play Please. The member companies were able to receive valuable feedback and strategic recommendations from the AT Kearney team, and the AT Kearney consultants were exposed to young, innovative, and disruptive companies that operate in spaces with enormous potential for growth. A second round of partnerships will begin in mid-August and will enable additional companies to benefit from access to A.T. Kearney’s extensive resources.

 

Consultants from A.T. Kearney were excited about the opportunity to work directly with business owners, which exposed them to a different level of decision making than they typically experience at large companies. Eric Snyder, who worked with Heirlume, made the observation that working with a startup is like building a ship, whereas working at a big company is like steering a ship. Both types of projects are innovative in their own way, but startup environments allow real-time feedback on the effectiveness of strategic decisions. 1871 companies demonstrate that change can happen quickly when the right people are involved and collectively working to make things happen.
“A.T. Kearney has deep roots in the Chicago community, and we are thrilled to support 1871 as it shapes the future business landscape of the city,” said Andres Mendoza Pena, Principal at A.T. Kearney. “The program is truly stimulating for our consultants given the unique passion demonstrated by the entrepreneurs, the fast paced environment in which they operate and the direct, immediate impact of our recommendations.”
For 1871 member companies, working with A.T. Kearney was an opportunity to utilize resources that would not normally be accessible for businesses of their size and scale. Participants in the program remarked that they were impressed by the attention to detail their businesses received, especially considering that all of the work was performed on a pro bono basis. All of the 1871 member companies benefited from having additional manpower; in every project, A.T. Kearney’s input led to changes in the business model or a pivot towards a new strategic direction.
Unbranded Designs was the pilot project for the overall A.T. Kearney/1871 program and during their collaboration with A.T. Kearney, they transitioned from a B-to-C business model to a B-to-B model. After considering different strategic approaches, A.T. Kearney successfully helped them to develop a pricing structure that was used to close Unbranded Design’s first big deal.
With Heirlume, A.T. Kearney conducted a survey with two hundred people to test the in-going hypotheses about the core customer and the best corresponding business model.  The goal was to come out of the project with a more focused customer demographic, which would enable the company to improve their advertising strategy. The final phase of the project involved a more in-depth interviewing process, using the results of these conversations to inform marketing decisions.
Savvo was in the process of assessing different market opportunities for expansion. It was a fairly high level strategic problem, although it initially seemed simple. The team looked at three potential solutions to determine which would be the best fit. The project is ongoing; the A.T. Kearney team was so helpful that they are now working with Savvo to analyze whether the business model they landed on is viable.
Founder of Let’s Play Please, Mariela Santori, described the partnership as an “amazing experience” and remarked on the effectiveness of A.T. Kearney’s methodology, which divided projects into smaller, more manageable fragments and helped the teams feel like they were accomplishing things.
1871’s growing relationship with A.T. Kearney is a great opportunity for member companies to access external resources and develop connections outside of the startup space. The partnership facilitates growth beyond the immediate results of the projects for both A.T. Kearney’s consultants and 1871’s member companies.

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