Posts in Startups

Employees Don’t React Well To Bottom Lines

August 6, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “Employees Don’t React Well To Bottom Lines”

In the field of software development, bottom lines are the name of the game, especially when a product launch is due in a few weeks. The crunch sets in and employees must react—often by pouring long hours in front of their laptops. This phenomenon may lead to the misconception that supervisors who are obsessed with bottom lines inspire employees to work harder and faster. A recent study conducted by Baylor reveals that this is not the case. Instead, according to Baylor’s study, “supervisors driven by profits could actually be hurting their coveted bottom lines by losing the respect of their employees, who counter by withholding performance.”

The above observation is echoed in a Hacker New’s comment about time-tracking employees. jlokier, a Hacker News user, quoted another user who said, “My boss knew how long [a] particular task took and asked if I need some help afterwards. It was great support and mentoring. But I now experience exact the opposite. My managers come to me if it took me longer [the] second time than [the] first time to complain about me being to slow.” jlokier followed up the quote by writing that the example presented in the quote “produces a misalignment of incentives: If you do a great job one week getting visible things out the door, then you’re punished for the rest of your time in that job, rather than rewarded for doing great. So you know in advance, it’s better to deliver slower all the time.”

Time-tracking is just one method that a bottom line driven supervisor can employ to goad employees to work faster. A Harvard Business Review article refers to the use of tactics such as time-tracking to force results as the weaponization of data. Using data to churn out performance can create the wrong type of incentives. According to the Baylor study, this approach  creates low quality relationships between supervisors and employees, which causes employees to withhold performance.

The problem is that this may not be made obvious to supervisors. Withholding performance may mean that employees become better at creating the illusion of performance. Workstations may be awash with multiple windows featuring terminals when the supervisor is around only to be replaced by social media. Rather than taking breaks, employees may spend more time in their chairs, banging their head against a problem that may have been solved if they didn’t feel they had to prove that they were working steadfastly towards the bottom line.

An interesting piece of information that the Baylor study uncovered is that even if supervisors and employees have high bottom line mentalities, performance still decreases. The researchers concluded that “even if employees maintain a BLM, they would prefer for their managers to focus on interpersonal aspects of the job that foster healthier social exchange relationships with their employees in addition to the bottom line.”

The lesson to take away from this is that focusing on the amoral underpinning of a company(ie. profits) may not be the greatest motivation for a worker. Rather, focusing on the social benefit of the product(s) along with fostering healthy work relationships may be the way to go.

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Switching to Plaintext Emails Can Protect You From Hackers

July 25, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “Switching to Plaintext Emails Can Protect You From Hackers”

According to Retruster, 90% of data breaches are a result of phishing attacks. And the number of attacks continue to rise year after year. Those that commit these attacks make millions of dollars.

Hollywood may bear some of the blame for the rampant success these attackers enjoy. Rarely do you watch a movie or TV show that glorifies the “dirty work” involved in hacking. The average web surfer most likely thinks that hackers are sophisticated savants who can get computers to steal anything they like with a few console commands. While highly gifted hackers do exist, many of them would love to be invited through the front door rather than waste resources trying to break in through the back.

For hackers, the front door is an email account. What phishing boils down to is an email, sent by an attacker, that tries to lure a victim into coughing up sensitive information. That sounds simple enough, but how are hackers able to bypass spam filters and lure their prey? The good ones, at least those versed in language, would at least attempt to make these emails personal and professional. They may skillfully impersonate an insurance company or job agency. They would also populate the email with your public information to further personalize the email. This type of specific phishing attack is called spear phishing; it’s highly effective since it purposefully targets what you fear. If you fear not being able to get employed, the attacker may find your information on a job board site and entice you to give up sensitive information in order to gain employment.

When we head into the field of human psychology, there is not bottom for a phishing attack. There’s a reason why advertisers still shell out money for pay per click ads. The right message to the right audience will eventually generate clicks. Attackers are only using the same techniques that marketers have been using for decades.

If phishing attacks are so effective because they attack our vulnerabilities, how can we stop it? The answer to that question is very plain–as in plaintext. HTML is the plaything of hackers. With HTML, hackers can obfuscate any URL by embedding them in rich text. They can also place an iframe under an image or prompt that can then trigger a payload full of malware or redirect information to an attacker’s server. An especially insidious offshoot of phishing is called pharming, In the case of pharming attacks, hackers first phish with an email, then, if you bite, they direct you to, let’s say, a seemingly legitimate PayPal site. If you don’t carefully inspect the URL, you’ll think you’re entering your credentials into a trusted  site. Instead, you’re feeding information to a malicious hacker.

Plaintext nearly eliminates the above scenarios by doing away with images and rich text. There is far less distraction in a plain text email and links can be more easily inspected. This doesn’t mean that switching to plain text is a silver bullet. The attacker will still use language to entice you to click a link. It would help to study the structure of legitimate links. You would want to beware of URL shorteners since they anonymize links. If the link looks legitimate, be sure that it starts with https instead of http. And be sure that nothing comes before the https protocol. It’s also important to remember that https doesn’t guarantee that the site has iron clad security, it just means that information between the server and browser is encrypted. As a result, your log in information can’t easily by stolen by a man-in-the-middle attack. However, if a clever hacker can impersonate a site while maintaining the https protocol, that added security becomes meaningless because the attacker now becomes the owner of your data. This exact scenario occurred in the Gmail phishing scam 2 years ago.

Plain text emails help to isolate URLs so that a user can make an informed decision about whether or not the link is worth clicking. Education is still required to know the forms in which Phishing attacks come in. useplaintext.email has all the information you need to get information about the types of clients that support plaintext.

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Atlanta-based DefenseStorm Secures $15M in Series A Funding

July 16, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “Atlanta-based DefenseStorm Secures $15M in Series A Funding”

With cyber breaches up 50% in 2019, DefenseStorm, an Atlanta-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $15 million in a series A round led by Georgian Partners to help stem the tide. All told, the company has raised $30 million.

The funding will be used to hire new employees in the sales, product management, and product department. The goal here is to allow the business to continue to grow in size and quality. “DefenseStorm is growing rapidly,” says Howard Brewer, CEO of DefenseStorm, “and our primary goal is not only to ensure that we take care of both our current and potential customers, but also that we invest in our employees and the innovation they continue to bring to the table.”

However, Georgian Partners isn’t simply investing dollars, they’re providing DefenseStorm with their shock team, a team that goes by the name of Georgian Impact. The Impact team, according to their website constitutes “experienced technology practitioners and Ph.D.’s with expertise in areas including deep learning, software engineering, natural language processing and privacy.” Unlike most VCs, Georgian Partners differs in that they classify themselves as a growth equity firm, which means that they source talent as well. DefenseStorm will take advantage of Georgian Partners’ resources to increase the capabilities of its GRID platform.

The GRID platform fosters a co-managed security operation whereby both the financial institution’s security team and DefenseStorm’s security team or TRAC team monitor the security of the financial institution through real-time alerts. The platform’s offerings all serve to streamline cloud-based cybersecurity to allow for faster response times, something that is crucial when sensitive data is at risk. In regards to the future of GRID, Brewer says, “As we evolve the GRID, we see more banking-specific use cases for our security and compliance platform that are natural extensions to the work we do and the methods we use today.”

It’s no surprise that a cybersecurity company that focuses on finance sector has found a home in Atlanta, a city known for its digital transactions. DefenseStorm was founded in 2014 with the goal of providing smaller banks and credit union with state of the art security by leveraging both a powerful collaborative platform and a team of security experts.

With cybersecurity threats on the rise, DefenseStorm has proven its value in the market. “We are thrilled to have the support of the Georgian Impact team and look forward to a lasting partnership benefiting the entire cybersecurity community.”

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agtech

Top Funded Agtech Startups From 2016 to 2019

May 22, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “Top Funded Agtech Startups From 2016 to 2019”

As we continue to forge into the 21st century, technology has begun to dominate almost every sector of business. For the most part, technology is seen as a bottom line for industries like finance.  But technology has also shown that it can change our world for the better in a field like agriculture. Unbeknownst to many, farming is no longer primarily the domain of rural folks. Rather, young, plucky entrepreneurs are making a name for themselves in what’s come to be known as agtech. And investors are taking notice, shelling out cash to startups that solve the ever-growing needs of farmers.

Here are the top funded agtech startups in the last few years. As a point of reference, these numbers were sourced from a collection of TechCrunch articles. The links have been provided below.

Plenty: Two years ago, SoftBank invested a whopping $200 million into Plenty, an indoor farming startup. Why that much money? Plenty boasts a yield that’s 530 times greater than other fields and can grow anything except tree fruits and root vegetables. The cash infusion allowed the company to begin building indoor farms across the world.

AppHarvest: AppHarvest, founded by Jonathan Webb, recently raised $82 million dollars to build a new greenhouse facility in Kentucky. The startup provides high-paying jobs, alternative education, and new farming methods in order to boost employment.

BrightFarms: Large scale, indoor farms are no longer ideas relegated to science fiction. BrightFarms is an example of that; the company grows fruits and vegetables in high tech greenhouses that are close to markets. The company raised a little over $30 million to continue building green houses.

Ceres Imaging: The arial images that Oklahoma-based Ceres Imaging provides farmers allows them to make long term judgments on their crops. Rather than use drones, Ceres opts to do things the old-fashioned way: with airplanes. Investors don’t seem to mind, seeing that they banked $25 million nearly a year ago.

FarmLogs: FarmLogs raised $22 million in a series C round. The company has used satellite imagery to identify ways to quarantine infestation in fields. The company also positions itself as a business management platform for farmers, offering insights into crop production and marketing.

Taranis: Tel Aviv is home to a bevy of agtech startups that specialize in precision farming. Drones are used to scout farmland while deep learning algorithms train the drone to spot problems in the crop. The company raised $20 million in a series B round.

Prospera: Yet another Tel Aviv agtech startup that uses AI to collect data about a particular field like the types of diseases that may be affecting a certin crop. The company raised $15 million in a series B round.

SeeTree: SeeTree, the Tel Aviv-based startup, raked in $11.5 million in a series A fund in 2019. SeeTree utilizes drones and AI to provide results-based precision farming.

Artemis: This startup sees itself as the ultimate CMS platform for the burgeoning tech-based indoor farming sector. With Artemis, you can manage workers and ensure food safety compliance. The company has raised $8 million in a series A to continue their efforts.

 

image credit:

Joao Marcelo Marques

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Why Standing Desks are Better Than Sitting Desks

May 14, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “Why Standing Desks are Better Than Sitting Desks”

 

To stand or not to stand is the kind of thought that goes into designing an office. Though, the question of whether to build standing desks or sitting desks by now is more a question of health vs convenience. As humans, we’ve been accustomed to sitting in an office since the 18th century. Throughout history, most endeavors that require thinking and writing, or any other official function is associated with a chair. Think of a throne or a judge’s chair. Sitting down to perform a task that requires our brain and our fingers is so ingrained in us that we hardly think about why we do it.

But should our health be sacrificed for the convenience of sitting? Before we tackle the many detriments to one’s health that results from prolonged sitting, we should address the basic fact that our body tells us we’re not supposed to sit for long periods of time. Rarely can someone sit still for long periods of time without fidgeting or shifting their thighs. Architect and writer Witold Rybczynski wrote in The Paris Review that, “We don’t sit still—we fidget, we shift our weight, even if ever so slightly, crossing our legs and arms, moving our cramped muscles. We interact with our chairs: we sit on them, lean back and lean forward, and often perch on the edge of our seats. We wrap our leg around our chair’s leg; we sling one arm across its back, or a leg across its arm…We are good at walking and running, and we are happy lying down when we sleep. It is the in-between position that is the problem.”

 

The problems of sitting

credit: Unsplash

 

The least of the problems for a habitual sitter is a wedgie; in fact, the detrimental effects of sitting, according to research, is more in line with smoking. A study that analyzed a million people found that those who sat eight hours a day had a risk of dying like that of obesity and smoking. Below are some of the negative effects of sitting.

  1. You’re more likely to get heart disease by sitting. When comparing bus conductors, who stand, to bus drivers, who sit, British researchers discovered that bus drivers contracted heart diseases at a much higher rate than conductors. This finding corroborates recent research that shows a correlation between sitting and heart-related diseases.
  2. Since prolonged sitting increases your chances of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, it also increases your risk for dementia.
  3. Sitting too long can cause blood clots to form. These clots can break up and effect your lungs, heart, and brain.
  4. Invariably, long periods of inactivity can lead to weight gain if it’s not offset with exercise and a proper diet.
  5. Bad sitting posture only compounds the problems one can face from sitting for too long. Lower back pain, neck pain, and various ailments can ensue.

*Negative health effects sourced from WebMD

The benefits of standing

credit: youtube

 

Now here’s where we tell you that standing desks are far better by sitting desks by expounding some of its virtues. But it should still be noted that sitting desks aren’t a substitute for daily exercise. Standing for long periods of time without moving can also be harmful to your body. You can think about the physical progression in this way as it relates to your heart: standing is better than sitting, walking is better than standing, jogging is better than walking, and running is better than jogging.

That said, standing is a great first step towards avoiding a chair. A study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology in 2018 revealed that someone standing as opposed to sitting six hours a day would burn 54 more calories than the sitting person.

Research spearheaded by Dr. Elizabeth Garland shows that height adjustable desks are linked to increased productivity and health. The peer reviewed study was conducted over a 12 month period. One of the biggest key findings was that the people who received standing desks reported a 17% reduction in sitting. This reduction then implicitly reduces many of the harmful effects that sitting has.

Dr. RJ Burr and other doctors claim that standing desks are a proper solution to alleviating back pain and other health problems caused by extensive sitting.

 

A Happy Balance

credit: axios

 

This blog focuses on the ecosystem of coders, who’ve been stereotyped as sedentary screen addicts. That, in fact, could not be further from the truth. One can argue that startups are leading the standing revolution. From my experience, having attended a coding bootcamp  that mimicked a progressive work culture, using standing desks provided a fresh reprieve from the monotony of sitting for hours on end trying to overcome problems. Using a standing desk made me feel less tied down and more in control.

Whether a standing desk increases productivity is certainly debatable; a recent study that used students as a population did not show any noticeable differences in test performances. That being said, we can’t ignore the mental and physical health benefits that standing desks have over sitting desks. Still, just because standing desks are better, that does not mean that sitting desks have to be eradicated. Adjustable desks are a great way to give workers the choice to sit or stand.

In terms of office design, it may be even better to create a standing and a sitting section so that workers are reminded of the option to stand. During my stint at the bootcamp, I found myself gravitating towards the standing desks. You’d be surprised how quickly those spots start becoming hot commodities as workers actually start to feel the benefit of cutting down on sitting time. The sitting desks would then be useful for resting and vice versa.

In the end, it is better to tackle the “sea of troubles” that sitting washes down on us by standing up rather than sitting and suffering the “slings and arrows” of our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

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Three Ways To Advance Your Career As An International Software Developer

April 17, 2019 Posted by Programming, Recruiting, Startups, Technology 0 thoughts on “Three Ways To Advance Your Career As An International Software Developer”

Here are the 3 best practices we teach to young developers in our network as they begin their journeys as international software engineers.

1. Think About Time

Do you work with a lot of 45-year-old software developers at your current company? According to a 2015 survey on Stack Overflow (via InfoWorld), the average software developer is 28.9 years old. (Data USA puts the average at 39.7.)

While there are many reasons for this, the bottom line for many developers is that the window to fully develop your professional network may be limited compared to other industries such as the legal profession, where the average age for U.S. judicial workers (including lawyers) is 46.3. 

Sure, it’s tempting to take your excellent pay to go on every available holiday and let your friends know you’re living the good life on Instagram, but it also pays to take some risks early in your career. So take risks.

Risk joining a startup, risk starting your own project or company, or risk asking someone you’d like to emulate to mentor you. As the old adage goes, “Fortune favors the brave.”

While press headlines may focus on the Zuckerbergs of the world, I know plenty of developers who were early employees at technology companies you’ve never heard of that were acquired, and who have leveraged such experiences to leapfrog their careers.

So surround yourself with people who embrace risk. You can easily spot these people and organizations because they’re the ones who are constantly investing in new experiments.

Believe me, not many developers want to join the ranks of those who thought joining my first startup was “too risky.” That company is now worth over $3 billion on the NASDAQ stock market.

I believe the greatest risk for young developers is not taking any.

2. Use IT Outsourcing As A Stepping Stone, Not A Career Destination

In emerging economies, working for an IT outsourcer can be a great place to learn basic skills and get exposure to live commercial projects, but you may not want to think of this as a long-term career prospect. That’s because IT outsourcer culture can be one of employment arbitrage and not innovation, and learning to think like an innovator can widen your career opportunities greatly.

A 2016 Deloitte survey (via The Wall Street Journal) indicated that only 21% of enterprise outsourcing contracts had any “proactive innovation” built into their service contracts, although Deloitte found that number had risen to 43% in 2018 (download required). 

Obviously many innovations come from startups, so working on a startup project could be great exposure to innovation culture and give you the opportunity to put your own unique ideas into production code.

As well, I’ve found that IT outsourcers (especially large ones) tend to work on legacy projects and in legacy languages like J2EE. This can severely limit the types of jobs you can get in the future and rob you of the experience to learn new technologies or frameworks.

A common mistake I see young developers make is thinking it’s OK to work in the “safety” of a large outsourcing company because they and a friend are working weekends on their brilliant app idea. It rarely works.

A 2012 study by Harvard Senior Lecturer Shikar Ghosh (via Silicon Valley Business Journal) found that 75% of venture-backed startups fail, although other estimates vary. Think about that for a second — if founders who are dedicating their lives to their projects with VC money fail three out of four times, what are the chances that your unfunded side project will be successful?

For those that aren’t born innovators, developers can nurture an innovation mentality by working for a company whose culture rewards “outside the box” ideas and fosters risk-taking. That can be a fast-moving corporation, a VC-funded startup, or a bootstrapped group of hungry founders.

3. Find A Great Mentor

If you don’t have a senior coder that can take you under their wing and mentor you, please go ahead and work for someone that can. This is by far the single biggest difference I see between developers who simply survive from paycheck to paycheck and those that continue to increase their opportunities until they decide to retire.

Another common mistake I see young developers make is that they think $500 per month more in the short term is more valuable than working for a good mentor in the long run. In my opinion, they are wrong — good mentors are as valuable as a top university education. 

Look for mentors who are living the life you want and who espouse the values you hold dear. Just because someone made millions and drives a Ferrari doesn’t mean they’re a good mentor for you. And a good mentor doesn’t have to be someone that makes you feel good about yourself.

Think about your best professor or teacher from your school years. Was the person you learned the most from the nicest teacher? Did they challenge you and at times make you feel uncomfortable, or did they sing your praises on a regular basis?

Mentors come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments. You want to choose those that can most accelerate your career and help you train for your “career black belt.”

As Marc Andreessen once said (paywall), “Software is eating the world.” Just make sure you get your slice of the pie while your career still has teeth. Source

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Why You Should Hire a Web Development Agency

February 6, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “Why You Should Hire a Web Development Agency”


So, you’ve probably read our article about why your business needs a website and are now wondering how to go about getting a website. The first impulse you’re probably going to have is to find a free and easy option. The most popular are Squarespace and Wix. Both offer a DIY approach to website building by using simple drag and drop interfaces. These types of websites are well-suited for hobbyists who simply want a portal to showcase their knowledge.

The problem with website builders is that there is nothing unique about the templates. There are over 644 million website on the internet. Somehow, you have to stand apart, especially within your niche. Pre-made themes that don’t require any technical abilities on the part of the business owner ultimately hinders flexibility.

At some point, you’re going to want that really modern functionality you see on your competitor’s website(they probably hired a professional). So, you’re going to have to hire a designer who will then use, for example, Squarespace’s CSS box to add some pizzazz to your website. If you want more complex functionality, you’ll then need a JavaScript developer to come in and edit the theme. That, in a sense, defeats the free and easy purpose of the website builder.

Using a pre-made theme is like buying in bulk when what you’re looking for is a bespoke item.

Underlying many of these pre-built themes is code that isn’t efficient. Slow websites drive people away. In addition, some themes may not be optimized for security. Any plugin or outside feature you add to customize your site increases your vulnerability to attack.

What you want in a website is a full representation of your business and its philosophy. Internet users are savvy. They know when a company hasn’t put effort into their website. If a company doesn’t have any love for their website, how do they treat their products? Remember that:

It only takes .05 seconds for a user to form an opinion of your website. That instant judgment means that a slow site turns off users in a hurry.

94% of any negative opinion is a result of poor design.

75% of consumers admit to making judgments about the company based on their design

88% of people who have a negative opinion will never return.

SWEOR

The last thing you want a user to think is that your company is generic. That’s why businesses that have money to spend hire their own developers. The problem is that recruiting and vetting your own candidates can be a challenging, time-consuming, and money-consuming process. The last thing you want is to hire a developer who doesn’t know how to code.

In that case, you may want to look into hiring a web development agency to build a custom website for you. Here are some of the benefits:

Expertise

Since the web development agency has done all the hard work of hiring the best developers out there, all you need to do is communicate your idea. Web development agencies are experienced in all of the latest technologies and have built websites for businesses of all sizes. They’ve dealt with almost every problem associated with building complex systems and have the tools necessary to troubleshoot any problem that arises.

A web development agency also has processes in place to ensure that the final product is suitable for your consumers. Time is often spent on:

  • Designing- a design process ensures that a website attracts maximum attention.
  • Building- developers build the websites using well-constructed designs as guides.
  • Testing- as they build, developers test the code to ensure that there aren’t bugs.

Scalability

How large and complex do your expect your company website to get? Web development agencies have the know-how necessary to ensure that code is optimized for growth no matter how large the website becomes. Any new features that are required can be added by the agency’s developers without needing to implement buggy plugins.

Custom Design

A custom design allows for a responsive design. Web development agencies have the personnel to make sure your website looks great on any platform.Considering that 85% of adults believe that a company’s website should look just as good, if not better, on a smartphone, you can’t lose spending $2,000 or more on a custom design.

In The End

For anyone building a personal website, a web development company may be too sophisticated. That person may be better off getting a simple website to start off. Even then, there are many popular bloggers who inevitably turn to professionals to customize their website after starting their personal blog. A large part of marketing is creating a recognizable brand. Getting brand recognition won’t happen overnight, but a custom website goes a long way towards solidifying your place in the virtual marketplace called the internet.

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How IoT Devices Will Change Businesses

January 31, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “How IoT Devices Will Change Businesses”

Back in 2015, professor Detlef Zhulke proclaimed that smart technology would usher in the fourth industrial revolution. That was in reference to the rise of highly computerized technology being developed to optimize manufacturing processes at factories. With machines being able to communicate with one another, humans would no longer need to manually operate them. If the Internet of Things can revolutionize manufacturing, it can revolutionize your business.

Here’s why.

New Business Opportunities

By integrating connected systems that automate mundane workflows, you gain a better understanding of customer’s requirements, improve these workflows, and improve coordination between teams.

Externally, companies can affordably offer services for their products using  algorithms that predict potential maintenance issues. This opens up an entirely new sector of continuous integration that allow for much stronger ties between the business and consumer.  Savvy businesses can then turn their service into a business of its own. For example, Amazon’s Alexa is IoT as a platform which allows users to interact with it through voice recognition. This device is nothing new as voice recognition has usually been integrated within a larger device, like a phone. By creating a seperate device, Amazon created a new vertical that other businesses have flocked to.

Image result for alexa

A Positive Work Environment

In a Forbes Insights survey, 47% of executives implemented visual analytics that allowed them to track information about people and objects. This may sound invasive until you read the Visual Analytics of Work Behavior Data paper which aimed to answer the question of how sensor data can be used to gain insight into work behavior. Using visual analytics, the researchers concluded that facial expressions can be “a promising measurable outward characteristic that can be visualized to indicate mental state patterns during work.”

This form of analysis suggests a camera that tracks movement, but businesses can employ less invasive measures by using sensors that track heart rates and other patterns that may indicate unhealthy stress levels. That data can then be used to provide activities that lower a worker’s stress level, thus creating a positive work environment.

Image result for sensors at workplace

Improved Process Management

For a long time, business processes have been seen to be irreplicable, complex black boxes. Now, these processes can be tracked using sensors at every phase of production–from shipment to storage and the other way round. Sensors can pinpoint bottlenecks, allowing businesses to save money on opportunity costs. According Forbes, “Business areas that have seen new ventures or expansion include preventive maintenance, automatic product upgrades or updates, and the tracking and tracing of assets.”

Examples of improved managerial abilities with IoT include adding sensors to inventory that allow personnel to accurately track shipments. Retailers can measure the temperature their products were stored at, the time it took to arrive, and the condition it came in.

Image result for sensors that track inventory
Credit: DZone

Expense Reduction and Asset Productivity

Computers are more efficient than humans when it comes to logistics. Machines in factories have long replaced manual, repetitive work. As these machines become smarter, fewer workers would be needed to tabulate vast amounts of inventory, which will boost operational efficiency. Optimal operational efficiency leads to less guesswork when tracking losses. Turning physical information into data points allows for precise measurements. The cost of precision will result in fewer laborers, yet new roles will open up that will require leveraging the expertise of highly skilled individuals. Businesses that can’t afford to pay skilled developers can just as easily outsource IoT software development to a development shop.

Improved Customer Interaction

77% of people in the United States use smartphones, which is arguably the first “Thing” that gained full access to the internet. Businesses can use their own IoT devices to communicate with customers. For example, iBeacon sends promotions through alerts to users who enter a store. Rather than mailing coupons and trying to position sales items in just the right spot, a tech savvy business can put their products right in front of every iPhone user.

Image result for iBeacon

Conclusion

The number of IoT devices in the market is over 7 billion(not including smartphones and tablets) with over 17 billion connections between devices. These numbers are expected to grow over the coming years. Businesses that take advantage of these connected smart devices will open up new business opportunities for themselves, improve employee and customer satisfaction, and optimize production. The bottom line amounts to increased revenue for these businesses. At the end of the day, that’s what business is all about.

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32 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Website

January 31, 2019 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “32 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Website”

You’re a small business owner or an aspiring small business owner who likes to do things the old way: through word of mouth. You don’t really want to have to deal with a website because of its perceived costs and complexity. So you feel like your network of customers alone is good enough to propel you towards success. This is a smart strategy and one that has worked for many businesses for as long as history has been recorded, but now we’re in an entirely new age. But you may have some objections.

These objections will be answered as you continue to read this article. We’ll give you all the information you need to make you aware of all of the opportunities that you’re certainly missing out on.

The Internet Is Everywhere

Let’s be honest, the internet has taken over our lives. You probably use the internet on your smartphone just as much if not more than your desktop. Websites reported in 2017 that on average, 63% percent of their visitors were from mobile devices. These small devices have made the internet portable. That means more and more people now use the internet every year. By 2021, 53% of the global populations is expected to access the internet, and a lot of that has to do with smart technology.

Now more than ever, as a small business owner, you need to create a business that fits your market. Just as you performed the market research necessary to start your business, you have to reevaluate your consumer base in terms of their usage of technology. According to Pew Research Center, 95% of people in the U.S. alone own some sort of cellphone while 77% percent of people in the U.S. own smartphones. If you’re business is located in the U.S. there’s a strong chance that your market spends time on the internet.

Other businesses have taken advantage of these statistics by building websites.

Normally, telling someone to follow the crowd is a horrible argument. That’s not what we’re saying here. At the same time, smart business strategies involve looking at what makes other companies successful and imitating those processes to boost your own success. You don’t want to be the one left holding the bag a few years down the road. The longer you wait to build your website, the greater the costs are in lost opportunity. Deloitte found that small businesses that leveraged digital media,

  • Earned two times as much revenue per employee
  • Experienced revenue growth over the previous year that was nearly four times as high
  • Were almost three times as likely to be creating jobs over the previous year
  • Had an average employment growth rate that was more than six times as high
  • Were also three times as likely to have exported over the previous year

Why are companies that use websites experiencing such growth? Well, we know websites aren’t magical. So, they must be taking advantage of the many things that a web page allows you to do.

Websites and Blogging

Building a website allows you to host a blog. Having a voice is key to marketing within your niche. It’s what allows word of mouth to get going. Imagine you’re at a public square selling your products. How do you get customers to trust you? Well, persuasively, one way to build authority is to use ethos, an appeal to character. You want to show potential customers that you’re an expert in your field. Well, having a blog is a way to spread your expertise around.  

The more visitors share your post, the more exposure you receive in social media. Increased exposure boosts your web traffic, giving you more opportunities to convert those visitors into customers.

Businesses that consistently blog have almost 4.5x more lead generation than those that do not blog. Here lead generation means that blogging leads to sales, which is your ultimate end goal.

A blog page offers yet another location to plant a call-to-action, such as a subscription offer. After reading your informative post, a visitor will be more inclined to respond to your subscription offer, meaning you can conduct focused marketing on your fresh leads. Without a blog, you strangle potential leads.

You become the thought leader of your market through blogging.Blogging about relevant topics in your industry, from the best deals to the latest trends, will establish you as an authority figure in your market. Early adopters follow thought leaders. Gain enough loyal followers and your product will spread by word-of-mouth alone.

Blogging builds trust. According to Kissmetrics, 96% of users that visit your website are not ready to buy anything. You have to convince them, earn their trust. What better way to show your prospects that you know a thing or two about your industry than a well-researched blog post?

Blogging tells your brand’s story.Blogging allows you to tell a story about your mission, your values, and your ideas. It allows you to build a reputation that will span generations. Seth Godin puts it best when he says, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.”

Blogs feed SEO. Search engines crave rich content. So, a high-quality blog post will propel your ranking, in turn driving traffic to your site. Years after you have written your stellar post, Google will still continue to feature it. This way, old posts constantly generate leads.

Besides Blogging, You Should Get a Website Because…

Your customers expect it.

In the United States alone, there are over 220 million online shoppers as of today. The number is expected to increase. Customers who can’t find your company’s website may deem you to be unprofessional. The culture of privacy awareness that have sprouted from attacks by hackers may lead customers to avoid you altogether in the future. It’s why 30% percent of customers won’t consider your business if it doesn’t have a website. We as consumers have grown accustomed with the convenience afforded by 24/7 customer service.

Instead of taking calls that drain your time away, you can set up automated chat services on your websites. You can also build a knowledge base and refer your customers to a page that tells them everything they need to know about the products and services you offer.

A professional email goes hand in hand with having a presence on the web.

You can email newsletters and discounts to anyone who subscribes to your website. All they have to do is send you their email address. A professional email signals to those receiving your mail that you are an authority

Social Media Is Not the Answer

Remember MySpace? Social media companies don’t always last. Society shifts and new apps rise to meet new demands. At the moment, people are spending less and less time on Facebook. Instagram is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Why? Generally, people are tired of the company Facebook pages and are in search for a more genuine experience. The response a business owner should have is to separate business from social. You should have a business site to inform potential customers about your products and use social media to genuinely connect with your followers.

If you don’t believe us, here’s what Mark Phillips, a business consultant at Monster, has to say about social media versus websites:

A lot of people think a website is unnecessary today due to social media.

People incorrectly assume they can market and grow their business online using only social media channels.

Social media channels are great for building awareness for your company, products and services but they are only one piece of the entire vehicle.

Awareness is merely the first stage of your marketing efforts and must be supplemented with lead capture, nurturing and calls to action to turn that attention from social into customers.

Think of the various social media channels as the wheels of your vehicle. They are important pieces of the vehicle but useless on their own.

Your website is your vehicle.

Every marketing channel and strategy should tie back to your website for one reason:

You own your website and can control the path your visitors take.

Want to collect leads? Set up email marketing opt-ins on your website and filter them off to your CRM.

Want to educate your audience? Write epic blog posts, with embedded videos, checklists and audio to be wherever is most convenient for your audience.

Want to pull free traffic off the internet? Perform SEO on your content and get it optimized to rank.

So in short, yes you definitely still need a website today.

I would argue a website is more important than ever due to all of the available marketing channels and strategies available to you and your business today.

So, now that we’ve gone through reasons for building a website for your business, let’s answer some of your potential objections.

What’s a fancy web page got anything to do with my business?

A website will make your business professional. We live in a digital age and it’s becoming increasingly important to own a virtual office. People expect to find information about anything from Google. By not having a website, the user will just find your competitor’s website instead.

Isn’t this whole website thing for tech geeks?

You don’t have to know a line of code to have a running website. We at Codesmith Dev specialize in helping small businesses like yours setup and optimize a website that puts their brand out in front. If we didn’t have a website, you wouldn’t be able to read this, nor would you be able to easily contact us for help. You wouldn’t have even known we existed!

Won’t I lose money building a website?

There are many revenue streams that you can use to monetize your website. if you diligently grow your website. Some include:

  1. Affiliate marketing
  2. Pay per click advertising
  3. Selling ad space
  4. Selling your own digital product, like Ebooks

Serve The Community

As internet users, we’ve grown accustomed to the free exchange of information. You don’t have to be Walmart to have your voice heard on the internet. You just have to have a great idea that people will be willing to share. Users want to interact with businesses online rather than driving over to an address. Yet 80% of small businesses are not taking full advantage of the digital tools out there, tools that will drive their growth. If you fully leverage your businesses full potential by building a website, you will be part of the minority reaping the benefits.

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5 Hottest China-based Ed Tech Companies

June 22, 2018 Posted by Startups 0 thoughts on “5 Hottest China-based Ed Tech Companies”

According to a recent TechCrunch article, Chinese companies are in hot pursuit for U.S. English teachers. All you need is a clean, spacious room and a web cam that’ll broadcast your lessons to millions of Chinese users. The gold rush towards the digitization of learning has already swept through the U.S. in the form of Udacity, Khan Academy, Coursera, and many more. However, in China, ed tech companies have become billion dollar unicorns in a couple of years. The unique offering in many of China’s ed tech startups is Massive Open Online Courses(MOOC). In other words, live streamed classes are no longer a thing of the future. They’re now.

Here are five rising ed tech startups that call China home.

17zuoye

17zuoye, founded by Liu Chang and Dun Xiao in 2007, is perhaps the most established education company in China. In total, it has raised 585 million in funding, with a bulk of that coming last month in a 250 million dollar series E.
The cash is well deserved. 17zuoye has garnered over 60 million users. They’ve also reached 120, 000 schools by providing supplementary textbooks, homework solutions, and live stream tutoring. Their offering is aimed at teachers, parents, and students. The company broke even on November 2017, according to Liu Chang, CEO of the Company.

VIPKid

VIPkid is the new kid on the ed tech block. Its founder, Cindy Mi, embodies the companies values. She taught herself English, spending her lunch money to learn the foreign tongue. She’s taught others English at just 15 years old. Now she’s become a role model for women in tech and anyone aspiring to fulfill their dreams. Social media and big dreams isn’t what a company runs on, however. Just this past year, the company received a $200 million cash infusion at a $1.5 billion dollar valuation. Now, Mi’s ed tech startup is warring with 51 talk in a battle that pits them against other competitors in this space.

Yuanfudao

Tencent, China’s largest social network, along with Warburg Pincus, an American private equity firm, both back Yuanfudao. That’s enough said. Last year, Tencent and Warburg Pincus invested $120 million dollars into Yuanfudao, valuing the company at $1 billion dollars. 160 million users are active on their mobile app and they earn steady revenue from about 1 million paying users. The company has already earned the title of being China’s first and largest unicorn. Wait, there’s more! According to iResearch, the company will be valued at a whopping $40 billion in 2019.

51 talk

This online education company was founded by Jia Huang and Ting Shu in 2011, a year before the U.S. MOOC boom began with edX, Udacity, and Coursera taking off all at once. 51 Talk has since become one of China’s leading education companies. On Aug. 28, 2017, the company announced that it signed an agreement with Highlights and Teacher Created Materials(TCM). The deal brought thousands of picture books to bolster its K-12 English language offering. Now they’re looking to recruit English teachers abroad to host English lessons, and, in doing so, revolutionizing China’s edtech market.

Alo7

Alo7 was founded by Pengkai Pai in 2004. Though the company has been around for a while, the recent explosion in the MOOC market may have been the reason for a recent round of funding to the tune of $37.5 million dollars in 2017. This Shanghai-based digital ELT product provider positions itself as more of a B2B company rather than a B2C company, offering consulting services to the thousands of training institutions in China. They also tout their proprietary curriculum as being a success amongst consumers.

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