5 Ways To Focus Your Strategy On Delighting Customers

my-tesla-arrivedThe world keeps changing, and visible business strategies that worked well in the past, including being the premium brand or low price producer, simply don’t get the customer loyalty they once did. Today, customers are looking for real relationships, a memorable shopping experience, and satisfaction of a higher purpose. They follow leaders who live and promote these strategies.

For example, Tesla and Elon Musk have capitalized on the environmental benefits of electric vehicles, coupled with a more memorable shopping experience by eliminating dealers. Other companies, including Ritz-Carlton, now incent their employees to build real relationships with guests, by authorizing them to spend up to $ 2,000 per guest to solve an individual concern.

Of course, these new customer-facing strategies shouldn’t preclude you from focusing behind the scenes on reducing costs and broadening your product line to supersede competitors. Amazon and Jeff Bezos have managed to do this well, with customers only remembering the fun and ease of shopping online, seemingly instant no-cost delivery, and no-hassle returns or replacements.

If you are rolling out a new business, or focusing on a revamp for your existing one, here is a summary of the key elements I recommend as a long-time business advisor for a winning customer-centric strategy today:

  1. Demonstrate a commitment to purpose and vision. What you say in your mission statement means nothing unless customers see you and your team living it every day. They need to see results in the form of sponsored events, social media, and feedback from influencers and customers that your mission is more than the low-cost producer.

    Whole Foods, for example, have continuously demonstrated their commitment to natural and organic foods, and have amassed an large and intensely loyal customer following for their 475 stores. As a result, they recently were acquired by Amazon for $ 13.5 billion.

  2. Highly focused customer segment targeting. This has to start with doing the customer interaction work to isolate the needs and drivers in the market you intend to serve. Trying to be everything to everyone doesn’t work any more. You need your team to be engaged with customers, finding what gets them excited, and tuning your message and offerings.

    In addition to their focus on purpose, Whole Foods continues to target high-income, educated city-dwellers who are health- or eco-conscious. This approach may not have worked in the startup days of traditional grocery stores, but it fits today’s urban reality.

  3. Dominate your industry before expanding to others. Many businesses are too quick in their efforts to become a conglomerate like General Electric, rather than globally dominating the one they are best suited for. Today, scaling an existing business in a large interconnected environment is generally easier than growing a disparate portfolio.

    Apple, as an example, have consistently focused on consumer electronics, since their early days with personal computers. They now dominate that industry, and achieved massive growth, loyalty, and credibility, without trying to move into enterprise solutions.

  4. Align employee incentives with customer values. Many companies still measure and reward employee productivity on internal processes, such as service calls closed per hour or revenue generated, rather than delighted customers. Results in the short-term may be optimized at the expense of repeat business, customer advocates, and loyalty.

  5. Seek opportunities to leverage competitor shortcomings. Make sure that everyone in your business understands your competitive advantage from a customer perspective, and continually seeks to optimize it. This requires continuous communication up front, agility in adapting to change, and continuous innovation improving satisfaction and experience.

Above all, continuing success requires a constant focus on strategy, and an agility to move quickly with the latest trends and innovation. Too many existing business become complacent, and the world changes around them, including former growth leaders Radio Shack, Nokia, and Enron. All too quickly, customers move on to other players that address their changing needs.

If your business strategy today doesn’t reflect one or more of the elements outlined here, your time for change may be past due. Winning customers in business is a lot more fun than the alternatives.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on Inc.com on 09/10/2020 ***

Startup Professionals Musings

[CropX in Seed Today] CropX Acquires Regen to Grow Global Footprint and Give Farmers In-Soil Insights

Expands Soil and Crop Analytics Leadership With Addition of Extensive New Zealand Farm Data, Experienced Local Agronomy Team, and Proven Irrigation and Effluent Management Platform

Read more here.

The post [CropX in Seed Today] CropX Acquires Regen to Grow Global Footprint and Give Farmers In-Soil Insights appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Feedback Fridays – A Friendly Feedback Exchange For Ideas and Products

Welcome to this week’s Feedback Thread. This is the place to request feedback on your ideas and products.

Be sure to give feedback if you are requesting feedback. Equivalent exchange goes a long way towards reaching your own goals and it makes for a stronger community.

Please use the following format:

URL:

Purpose of Startup:

Technologies Used:

Feedback Requested:

Additional Comments:

Post your site along with your stack and technologies used and receive feedback from the community. Please refrain from just posting a link and instead give us a bit of a background about your creation.

Feel free to request general feedback or specific feedback in a certain area like user experience, usability, design, or code review.

You can also find more support using instant chat on the /r/startups discord.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Tallinn-based fintech startup SPARQ secures €440K to build the personal finance platform for millennials

The Estonian fintech startup SPARQ, which promises to change how we manage personal finances, has secured financial backing of €450K from the Baltic International Bank, taking the total funding to over €500K. SPARQ was founded in 2019 and this second round of seed funding will be used to develop the startup’s “Early Access Stage”, which will feature the…

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EU-Startups

All Hands Makes Virtual Team Updates a Breeze

Bringing your team together for an all hands meeting is a great way to keep everyone up to date on important company news. However, with team members working remotely or even working all over the globe, it can be difficult to find a time that works for everyone – even for a virtual meeting.

If your team includes people with different schedules and even different time zones, you’ll want to check out All Hands, an app that lets you create video updates for your team to view when and where it’s convenient for them. 

All Hands knows that better-informed teams make better decisions. With the app, you can record videos and even have other people contribute – all you need is your phone. When it’s time to update your team, you can share the video via Slack and Microsoft Teams rather than creating yet another a calendar invite. This lets your team members watch the video wherever they are, at a time that works best for them. All Hands also provides analytics so you can see how your team engaged with your video, helping you to create even better, more relevant videos in the future.

In addition to providing updates to your team, All Hands can be used to keep stakeholders informed, such as by sharing a product demonstration, without having to schedule a meeting with them.

Features
All Hands includes a variety of features that helps you easily and effectively communicate with your team.

  • Pre-recorded videos: Rather than dealing with headaches from trying to find one day and time that works for all of your team members, All Hands lets you create collaborative, pre-recorded videos for your team members to watch when it’s convenient for them.
  • View anytime: With All Hands, there’s no need to schedule multiple meetings. Your entire team watches the same update, just at a time that makes sense for them.
  • Video features: All Hands videos feature automatic AI closed captions plus quick CDN video delivery and playback speed.
  • Two-way communication: Viewers can react to your video with emojis, provide feedback and even ask and answer questions to continue the dialogue. This also helps you see who understands your message and who might need a follow-up conversation.
  • Analytics: All Hands provides data that gives you clearer insight into who is most engaged with your video as well as which parts your audience found most interesting. This helps you create even more effective videos in the future. Everyone who presents can access their own statistics, and you can collect qualitative feedback and request questions and comments.
  • Improves company culture: All Hands makes it easy to show employee appreciation and celebrate team members’ achievements, which can increase morale as well as productivity. Sharing pre-recorded videos also enables you to communicate with your team while respecting their work schedules.

Interested?
If you’re looking to keep your team informed without the headache of trying to schedule a specific meeting time, then All Hands is a great option. Check out their website to learn more and book a demo.

Photos
All Hands

The post All Hands Makes Virtual Team Updates a Breeze appeared first on KillerStartups.

KillerStartups

Tech startups weekly: In-play ad startup funding, new €99,999,999 fund, TransferWise’s 70% revenue growth, and more

Undoubtedly, there has been an increase in funding activities across Europe as the tech startup ecosystem here seems to be eager to pick up the slack after the COVID slump. Several tech startups have started focusing on growing and taking their business to the next level. Many of these companies have started hiring fresh talent and forging strategic partnerships.

European tech startups weekly

As a part of a weekly roundup, here is a list of some of the most important tech startups that have hit the headlines in Europe this week.

Picture credits: Awell Health

Productivity, collaboration tools for healthcare industry

Based out of Belgium, Awell Health bagged £1.9M (nearly €2M) funding from LocalGlobe and Moonfire, London-based investors. With this investment, the startup will bolster its collaboration and productivity tools for the healthcare industry. This is crucial, especially during this COVID-19 crisis, as faster updating and easier implementation of patient guidelines is a priority.

Founded in 2018 by Thomas Vande Casteele, Awell Health enables healthcare organisations to create, implement, and update care pathways continuously to improve patient outcomes. The company believes that it is essential to focus on reorganising paper-based and disjointed processes. Traditionally, healthcare organisations have used text-based PDFs to create clinical protocols and care pathways and this slows down the practice.

Picture credits Admix

In-play ad startup

London-based in-play ad and game monetisation startup Admix secured an additional $ 1.5M (nearly €M) as a part of its Series A funding round. This round comes just three months after the initial funding of $ 7M (nearly €M) funding. This investment comes from Marcus Segal, the ex-COO of Zynga Studios and Nigel Morris, the ex-CEO of Dentsu Aegis in addition to a number of unnamed executives in the gaming and advertising industry.

This investment will be used to accelerate the development of Admix’s stack for game publishers and grow its team by the end of this year. Established by Joe Bachle-Morris, Mohammed Alisrawi, and Samuel Huber in 2017, Admix is a monetisation platform for game developers enabling non-intrusive, programmatic product placements within their content.

Picture credits: Point Nine

SaaS and marketplace VC debuts €100M fund

Germany-based Point Nine, a VC firm focused on Europe and US, has closed a new €100M (essentially €99,999,999) seed funding dubbed P9 V. Since its debut in 2011, this is the fifth fund closed by the VC firm. Point Nine will invest between €500k and €2.5M per startup and take part in Series A funding of all the startups it funds.

The firm was founded by Christoph Janz, Kolja Hebenstreit, Lukasz Gadowski, and Pawel Chudzinski. It will deploy the fresh capital to bring two new partners – Louis Coppey and Ricardo Sequerra Amram. To date, the company has invested in over 100 startups across 28 countries and is an early-stage investor in Delivery Hero, Revolut, Brainly, DocPlanner and more.

Picture credits: AccelerComm

Solution to supercharge 5G communications

AccelerComm, a semiconductor research and IP development company and Southampton University spinout has raised £5.8M (nearly €M) Series A funding from IQ Capital, along with participation from previous investors such as IP Group and Bloc Ventures, in order to scale its IP tech business.

AccelerComm debuted in 2016 by University of Southampton professor Rob Maunder. The startup reportedly helps telcos, OEMs and equipment vendors to supercharge 5G satellite and other wireless communications with digital signal processing that reduces latency and increases spectrum efficiency.

Picture credits: BotXO

Conversational AI for businesses

Danish startup BotXO has pocketed €4M funding in a round led by Seed Capital and The Danish Growth Fund. The investment will be used to bolster conversational AI tech for businesses. BotXO founded in 2017 by Henrik Fabrin in Copenhagen aims to help its customers to reap the benefits of the conversational web as fast as possible.

This startup’s no-code platform enables businesses of all sizes, especially e-commerce companies, to use conversational AI and machine learning to speed up their growth and engage with customers in a more efficient manner. BotXO claims a database of over 24,000 pre-made, industry-specific sentences and over 1 billion variations in a wide range of languages.

Picture credits: 3i

European platform for home and garden projects

In a recent development, 3i Group has invested in German startup GartenHaus to build the leading European platform for home and garden projects. The 3i Group announced that it will invest £60M (nearly €65.6M) for a majority stake in A-Z GartenHaus, which is an online leader in garden homes, saunas, and sheds in the DACH region. Also, the management team and board of GartenHaus will invest to become shareholders.

Founded in 2002 by Sebastian Arendt, the German startup offers sheds, garden houses, terraces, carports, and other home and garden related products.

Picture credits: Daphni

French VC gets new fund and faces

Daphni, a French VC investor has secured its third fund that brings the overall assets to $ 350M. Also, it signals some notable high-profile departures. It has announced that the new fund is called Yellow and is worth $ 100M (nearly €M). Daphni is also working towards adding another $ 50M to the fund and invest in nearly 30 projects and invest between $ 1M and $ 5M.

Notably, Yellow is backed by corporations such as Bouygues and Accord, business angels – billionaire telecoms titan Xavier Niel, Jacques-Antoine Granjon of Veepee, and Romain Niccoli of Criteo. Even the startups that were backed by Daphni in the past such as Devialet and Back Market have invested in this fund.

UK fintech reports annual revenue growth

TransferWise, a UK fintech scaleup that handles over £4M (nearly €M) in cross-border payments each month from over 8 million customers has announced its results for the previous financial year. As per the report, it has reported a 70% growth in revenue reaching £302.6M (nearly €M) and a net profit of £21.3M (nearly €M) for the financial year that ended in March 2020.

Established by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann in 2011, TransferWise has launched new products across the US, Europe, APAC, and the Middle East in 2019. The company supports 2500 currency routes and 54 currencies on the whole. In July 2020, when TransferWise launched its secondary share sale, it reached a $ 5B valuation.

Main image picture credits: TransferWise

The post Tech startups weekly: In-play ad startup funding, new €99,999,999 fund, TransferWise’s 70% revenue growth, and more appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

Winterthur-based Luckabox closes 7-digit funding to improve the end-to-end last mile logistics process for retailers

Luckabox, the Winterthur-based VentureKick and KickStart alum recently secured a seven-figure pre-Series A round which will serve to reshape its product aimed at managing the end-to-end last mile logistics process for retailers. The latest round has seen existing investors Alpana Ventures, SICTIC and DAA Capital rejoin and new investors like Bettina Hein, a serial technology entrepreneur…

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EU-Startups

This UK-based startup’s AI-powered Labyrinth traps criminals & helps fight terrorism; raises €31M

Although technology removes global commerce barriers and allows access to new open markets, it also opens up a pandora’s box of financial crimes. According to a study, a whopping $ 181B (nearly €155.4M) was spent on financial crime compliance by financial institutions in the key markets of APAC, EMEA, LATAM, and North America – with EMEA contributing nearly $ 138.8B (nearly €119.2). This is where data intelligence platforms like Ripjar come into play. 

Money in the jar

UK-based fintech startup, Ripjar, has raised €31M in a Series B round of funding from Long Ridge Equity Partners. To date, the company has raised over €51M, with existing investors including Winston Capital and Accenture.

“With this funding, we will accelerate the expansion of Ripjar worldwide to provide our customers with the most advanced financial crime solutions, as well as creating new applications of the Labyrinth platform,” said Jeremy Annis, CEO of Ripjar.

Besides, the company will also expand its sales and marketing presence in Asia, North America, and Europe, and grow its employee base to support current and future clients.

Ripjar’s Labyrinth 

Founded in 2013 by five former employees of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Ripjar develops unique technology for global threat detection. It helps institutions and government agencies address criminal threats, including money laundering, fraud, cyber-crime, and terrorism.

The raised capital will also be utilised to accelerate new product development and facilitate the expansion of Ripjar’s ground-breaking data intelligence platform, Labyrinth. 

Utilising proprietary AI technology, Labyrinth uncovers new risks and reduces false positives by over 90%. It also enables human analysts to make better-informed decisions with speed and accuracy, saving significant cost and time for its clients.

Recently, Ripjar reached the 20,000 user mark and has signed six new customers during the COVID-19 lockdown. During this difficult period, the company also became profitable.

Using automated analytics, and machine learning, Ripjar’s vision is to provide a new approach to detect threats proactively and reduce the cost and overhead of financial compliance.

Image credit: Ripjar

The post This UK-based startup’s AI-powered Labyrinth traps criminals & helps fight terrorism; raises €31M appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

How to Get Out of Day-to-Day Operations and Into Leadership

When you start a business, you have a vision of what you want running your company to be like. While every founder is different, most entrepreneurs envision customers who love their product or service so much that they see it as the best (or only!) option in the market.

Years after they start their business, unfortunately, many founders find themselves still stuck in the day-to-day operations of the business. At this point, you should no longer be responding to customer issues or entering receipts into QuickBooks. You should have a team to help you complete these day-to-day tasks, so you can focus on what you do best: growing your business.


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Below, you’ll learn how to get yourself out of the day-to-day drudgery, delegate tasks and grow your business:

Your highest and best use

The concept of “Highest and Best Use” (HBU) was actually founded in real estate development. It’s the process of determining the highest value for a property. This principle, surprisingly, can be applied to entrepreneurship, as well.

You started your business for a reason. Maybe you had a solution to a problem or a vision for a new product that needed to be brought to life. No matter, the most successful businesses are the ones that make it because the company’s founder has a secret weapon.

The major secret weapons that we see are:

  • The entrepreneur is an expert in his or her field.
  • The entrepreneur is a great salesperson.
  • The entrepreneur has a huge network that makes revenue generation easy.

As has been documented by books like “The E-Myth,” most people find that starting a business ends up involving a lot more administrative and managerial work than expected.


Related: 10 Common Traits of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs

It’s time to look at your “Highest and Best Use” and try to get as much off your plate as possible to optimize your time. But just how exactly do you do that?

Step 1: Make a list of every task that is required for your business to function. This should be as granular as possible: everything from answering emails and reaching out to X number of prospects per day, to making weekly deposits or reconciling bank accounts at the end of the month.

Step 2: Break all of the tasks you’ve just identified up into the categories of: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually.

Step 3: Group all tasks into “departments” or groupings that make sense for your business. For example, everything related to prospecting, sending prospect emails, outreach for potential partnerships, setting up Facebook ads, etc. could go into the “sales and marketing” group. Everything having to do with receiving inventory or packing and shipping could go into “logistics.”

Step 4: Now, put a name next to each of the tasks to designate who on your team performs them currently.

Step 5: Label each task as “easily repeatable” or “not easily repeatable.”

Step 6: Label each task as “easily documented” or “not easily documented.” Now it’s time to apply the process.

Step 7: Look at all the groupings or departments that you made for these tasks, and ask yourself, “Are there people in your team who fall neatly into taking over that department or grouping?” If so, let’s put them in as the “leader” for that grouping. You can quickly audit this assumption by asking if that person could handle all the tasks listed. If not, this might mean considering reorganizing or bringing on a freelance or part-time hire.

Step 8: If you have an empty slot in the “leader” for a particular grouping, put yourself in there. At this point, you’ll start to see that you probably do way too much for your business day to day.

Step 9: Document all “easily documented” tasks with as much detail as possible. Create a Google sheet for each of them and create a folder structure that matches your new groupings or organizational structure.

Step 10: Begin to have meetings with your groupings “leaders” and start the process of delegating the newly documented tasks to them. Let them know that there are other processes that aren’t easily documented that you want to hand off to them but that it will take time to work through those. Set a target of having them implemented by a certain calendar date.

Step 11: Work to get the “not easily documented” tasks into a documented form. If they are extremely complex, it’s time for you to put your thinking cap on and figure out how to make them less complex until they are something that can be documented and handed off. Always ask how something can be automated or made less complex. As these tasks become documented, continue delegating and training until they are off your plate.

Step 12: For groupings where you are the “lead,” it’s time to think strategically about who could fill that role and when you can afford them, if it requires bringing someone new onto your team. This is an entirely different process in itself, but at this point, you should be getting very clear on what your organization needs to look like in order for you to get out of day-to-day operations.


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Key person risk

Most entrepreneurs have a vision of selling their business one day. One of the major reasons businesses can’t be sold for what they’re worth is something called “Key Person Risk.” This is the concept that if the operations of a business depend too much on any one person, the risk of the business goes up as something might happen to them or their performance. To increase the value of your business upon exit, you need to decrease Key Person Risk as much as possible.

A simple way to think about it is to look at all the tasks that you’ve listed in the process above. Take the total number of tasks created and divide that number by the total headcount of your company. This will give you a Key Person Risk Ratio. It’s a rudimentary way to look at your Key Person Risk over time, and less of it means more value upon exit.

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