The key to running a sound business is good communication. It doesn’t matter if you are interacting with customers, clients or employees, staying up to date on correspondences are timely tasks added to a daily workflow.
Different companies have different ways of dealing with their CRM, some want simplicity and go for a software like Highrise that functions primarily as a glorified address book, while others prefer a software like Salesforce that creates a CRM-ecosystem with subscriptions, features and add-ons.
But Radium CRM believes there should be a CRM that works with a communication platform that many are already using: Gmail.
The product is simple: you sign up onto Radium CRM and the software syncs up with your Gmail contacts and messages. From there you can manage and track your emails, set up your pipeline and sources and help build a robust address book. To create an effective communication tool for entrepreneurs and business managers, Radium CRM have to—you guessed it—communicate.
“I’m talking to entrepreneurs everyday,” explains Sami Asikainen, founder of Radium CRM. “Those people who have built their business with their bare hands give really good suggestions, they really know what they need. If we have this, they can do that. One feature that we didn’t even think of on our own was that people wanted to add emails to deals specifically. That was a user that suggested that to us, he said ‘I want to tag this email as a part of this dealflow here.’ So we have really great suggestions.”
Radium CRM is built for small- to medium-size businesses and it functions unobtrusively, operating with a workflow that probably already exist in the company. Users don’t even really need to sign up; everything is already synced to Gmail.
“If you are a one-man show, you can do it all in Gmail. You don’t really need a CRM,” Asikainen told Techvibes. “As soon as you have two people… how do you do that? Let’s say I do the billing part of the company and the other guy does the sales, well, do I just forward my emails to him and hope he gets it all? Or do I use a task manager like Basecamp, or do I use this and that? Most of our users use Gmail, that’s what they live in. The CRM is what they need, but they don’t want to be inside the CRM 24/7. People want to use both.”
Simplicity and usability is what Radium CRM is trying to understand. The ideal tool is not one that has everything, but one that has the necessary features that doesn’t exhaust the users.
“We wanted to do voice over IP, fancy smancy database management and automatic matching of data and scrubbing and all that other stuff with contact data,” said Asikainen. “But the number one request from users when we asked them they say, ‘Make this note field easier to use’. People want to add tons of notes, they want to be able to edit it later and they want to be able to reassign it, comment on it and do mentions. ”
Radium CRM continues to learn from their users, with the objective of developing the perfect application for business management. In constant conversation, Radium CRM is bringing a new audience into their very own ecosystem.
Transitions are complicated for businesses, but when it is done effectively it can enhance the work life of the employees and the customers. In order to ease the move, Radium is learning all about the little details and the finding out what managers need and want in a world where most companies are understaffed and overworked.
At a glance, Vancouver-based Mobio INsider seems to be another social media platform occupied by celebrities. But it is the business model that separates it from the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram—because Mobio INsider believes that the content produced on social media deserves to be monetized.
As we all get sucked deeper and deeper into the black hole of the Internet, communication is becoming more diluted. The problem is not that people aren’t talking to each other. Those with thought-provoking ideas don’t really know who their true audiences are—and people who have questions didn’t know whom to ask.
While Mobio INsider is not a private “ask me anything” message thread, it does something that many other social media platforms don’t, and that is connecting those who have questions with those who know the answers.
“We want to help [influencers] make better content,” explains Mark Binns, CEO of Mobio INsider, to Techvibes. “If they make better content it will be consumed more, shared more, etc. It will also help them make more money. The way to make better content is to involve their fans and their followers in the process.”
Mobio INsider enables the audience to ask and then choose which questions they want the influencers to answer by the process of up-voting (likes). The influencers will see the high demand, and take the opportunity to connect with their fans and followers.
But here is the attractiveness of Mobio INsider: anybody can become an influencer and anybody can be paid for sharing ideas and content.
“There is no reason why a beauty-blogger with 20,000 followers on Twitter—that really pay attention to what she says—can’t use Mobio and get paid,” said Binns. “The time of paid social media for influencers is here.”
For those who have answered a question on Quora brilliantly or have offered incredible insight on Reddit will know that points and karma doesn’t really feel the same as money. Volunteer-work is rewarding, no doubt, but the value of compensation is something we all deserve, especially when our efforts are capable of changing someone else’s life for the better.
“If you sign up with the Get Paid Program, you are not obligated to post anything, but it is an opportunity for you to make money,” said Binns. “The more you post on Mobio, the more advertisements you can show in general.”
Mobio INsider functions with integrated ads that followers and fans will view prior to receiving the influencer’s response, not unlike those videos you watch before YouTube videos play. In addition, Mobio INsider also have banner ads that are positioned as unobtrusively as those seen on Facebook and Twitter. But it’s the fact that the content developers are receiving a portion of the funds that makes it worthwhile.
Today, audiences don’t asks generic questions and busy influencers don’t have time to sift through their Twitter to find the best ones to answer. The demand is not only for smart and astute content, but also for a simple way of recognizing followers’ needs and getting the most out of their time.
“This is now possible, people should be getting paid for their content and having better relationships with their fans,” said Binns. “It’s really working and this is quite exciting for us.”
The new beard-transplant trend needs to be shaved
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Originally published in the Other Press. May 5, 2014
Let’s be honest, unless you are pretending to be Santa Claus for Christmas, Abe Lincoln in an Academy Award nominated movie, or a wizard in a children’s novel, there is no reason a man needs a fake beard.
But sadly that is not the case as insecurity shows itself in the masculine culture. Men who are unable to grow thick, respectable beards are now able to hide their shame by getting beard transplants. If you condone cosmetic surgery, such as breast implants, Botox, and rhinoplasty then surely you won’t have a problem with bread transplants; after all, it’s all about the feeling you get when you look good.
The pricing range for this hairy procedure is currently costing men somewhere between $5,000 to $15,000, and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the transplant will be successful since rejection of the follicles might occur. For those who feel that hair on their face is worth the price, then all the power to you; but for those who are still contemplating adopting the new popular look, I feel I must remind you about the inconsistency and irrationality of trends.
If you don’t have a beard it’s because you don’t really need a beard. I am 25 years old and I have never had to shave more than those few whiskers on my upper lip and the bit of stray fuzz growing under my chin. I know I should be embarrassed at the fact that I am so handsomely hairless—after all, the men in the magazines look so rugged with their thick beards and sophisticated moustaches. Shouldn’t I want to be like them?
In the same way we tell women that they don’t need to look like models—because it’s unrealistic—the same goes with men.
Boys, my dear baby-faced boys, you don’t need to feel ashamed that you can’t grow a beard. This hipster/Duck Dynasty trend will surely be replaced within a few years—next thing you know you’ll have a unibrow and muttonchops.
I prefer to be who I am and shave regularly. Sure, sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I had a beard to stroke when I ponder the perplexity of facial hair. And I wish I could intimidate others by looking like a lumberjack. But being clean-shaven has its advantages as well, that’s why many men choose to shave just as a preference.
If having a beard makes you happy, then go ahead and get your expensive transplant. But if you are motivated by the shame of your physical appearance, then I feel as though your beard transplant might be the crest of a slippery slope. So dude, don’t forget that even Michael Jackson had a beard at one point—and it was weird, not manly. Confidence comes from within, bud, so don’t hide behind your beard.
Parks Canada introduces Wi-Fi
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Originally published in the Other Press. May 5, 2o14
Canadians live for the wilderness, especially British Columbians. We anticipate our camping trips all winter long, and for many it’s our vacation from a stressful urban life. We want to escape our emails, our social media, and anything else linking us back to our offices and desks. Camping brings us back to the majesty of nature—and there is nothing natural about Wi-Fi.
The current initiative by Parks Canada is to install Internet into 150 national parks locations over the course of three years. While some spots will offer the Wi-Fi for free, others will charge a fee—either way, it is implemented so that visitors can stay connected with all their worries back home. How wonderful, right?
For those like me, who work mainly from the computer, having accessible Internet everywhere is a great commodity. But do I want to do work while I’m camping? Hell no! I always have this romantic idea of taking my work on vacation and doing it in the midst of travelling. I believe that type of work ethic is harmful to both the product and the worker. Separating work and play is essential to living a happy, healthy life. “I’m going camping” should still be a valid excuse for a break, even if Wi-Fi is available.
It is true that we are becoming addicted to our mobile devices, laptops, and other technology. Whether we are on social media or we are playing games, technology has proven that we no longer need to go outside or even converse with real life human beings. One can live perfectly happily from the confines of their home or office. If you think Wi-Fi in parks are going to get people outside, then you have missed the whole reason for being outside.
Going out into nature should be an opportunity to reconnect not with your digital devices, but with the world around you—the world you probably forgot while you were busy studying for your finals, or working overtime, or simply doing other things. There is a lot to see out there and you might miss something because you were too busy looking down at your phone.
Technology is excellent for bringing people together, but once people are together—at camp grounds for example—then it’s best to spend some quality time with them and not worry about others far away; there will be time for them later.
Parks Canada has stressed that there will be many places in the back country where Wi-Fi will probably never be enabled. That’s good, but the fact that so many outdoor locations will have accessible Wi-Fi scares me. What if one day Wi-Fi disappears and we can’t YouTube a video on how to build a fire or set up a tent? What will happen when we aren’t able to get lost in the beauty of Canada? What makes us Canadians great is the fact that we are survivors in the wilderness. Take pride in having a weekend where you go to the bathroom in the bushes, or cook meals from a can, or log off of the Internet, because in a world where we can take it or leave it, it’s always harder to leave it. Better memories go to those who take risks, so be a courageous camper and power off.
‘Game of Thrones’ actor Jack Gleeson’s retirement is a great loss
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. May, 5, 2014
It’s customary to start a piece concerning Game of Thrones by stating that there will be spoilers in this article. You have been warned.
Now with that being said, as an avid fan of the show and the novels, the most stunning news for me to hear in the aftermath of the Purple Wedding was Jack Gleeson’s retirement from acting. Joffrey Baratheon, perhaps one of the most disdainful characters to ever transition from page to screen is finally dead, and that means that 21-year-old actor Gleeson will no longer be a part of the show as it heads into the latter-half of the fourth season and beyond.
While some actors have used Game of Thrones as a launch pad to fame after their characters’ unfortunate demise—for example: Richard Madden who played Robb Starkrecently starred as the lead in Discovery’s highly publicized mini-series Klondike, and Jason Momoa who played Khal Drogo currently has five new movies in the works in addition to his television series The Red Road—Gleeson is choosing to step away at perhaps the most marketable phase of his acting life.
For the past four years, Gleeson has allegedly been harassed in public and online due to the fact that he was playing such a despicable character on television. Whether that was a determining factor to his retirement is unclear, but a young man losing his passion for a career many would die for is something I can’t ignore.
Many actors have chosen to take breaks from their acting careers to pursue other activities. In an interview after Game of Thrones season four episode two, Gleeson told reporters that he will perhaps go back to school and get a “post-graduate of some kind.” But some actors have taken a break for a reason that many consider risky, since well-paying jobs are so rare.
Dismiss it however you like, but I believe that Gleeson’s retirement is connected to the fact that he does not want to be typecast. After he has played such a horrible character, it is hard for the public to see him as the hero or even a likeable supporting character. He is a talented actor, but sometimes the audience determines the performance simply by the actor’s appearance.
If you may recall in the late ‘90s, Leonardo DiCaprio went on a slight hiatus after Titanic so that he could diminish his “pretty boy” persona. Since then numerous other actors in their prime have followed that model of breaking their stereotype.
The ability to say no to big-name production companies gives power to the actors in the long run. I think we can all learn a lesson from what Gleeson is doing, even if it is an upsetting loss for the time being. Saying no is important—scary, but important. If an actor or any other professional wants a career with longevity, then they must not only understand how to do the job, but understand why they are doing it. The worst thing that can happen is to be living a role that doesn’t make us happy.
We must all look at what we do and ask ourselves why we are doing it: is it for the money, or for the art, or simply because we want recognition? You can be the villain or you can be the pretty boy, just as long as you are being yourself.
Consumers demand the most out of their wearables. From the days of simple prescription-reading glasses to the Google Glass of the present—if it’s going to exist, it needs to work seamlessly with our lifestyle. But at this early stage, consumers may be expecting a sophisticated Xbox One when their wearables are at an adolescent-Atari stage.
During Wearable Wednesday Vancouver on April 23, moderator, Redg Snodgrass CEO of Wearable World, a couple groups of panelists and a large crowd of innovators, entrepreneurs, designers and investors gathered together to discuss the state of the wearable economy.
While some big companies, such as Nike are bowing out of the wearable-tech arms race, the doors are open for smaller companies to make the next innovative leap.
“The fact that Nike is leaving this market is a compliment to the market,” said Nikola Obrknezev, Technology and Partnership Lead at Fatigue Science. “Consumers are telling the manufacturers what they want and what they don’t want. It is our belief that wearable devices are going onto a platform, be it the iWatch, Android or Samsung. So they are going to build within an ecosystem. I mean [Apple’s CEO] Tim Cook wears a Nike Fuelband; he sits on the board—the fact that [Nike is] getting rid of the hardware team—they didn’t say anything about the software team. Who knows what they are building behind the scenes.”
While wearable developers are transitioning from constructing hardware to creating platforms, the ecosystem shifts into the next phase as data accumulates. But the challenges and the model of development remains the same: prototype, measure and learn.
“Putting something on a person’s wrist—making something that they are actually going to wear—is incredibly complex,” Liz Dixon, CEO of MIO added. “I think people get hammered all the time for making technology that is far too complex to use. Nobody likes to read instructions.”
There is a general public demand for wearables, we can all use another innovative way to communicate, etc. But there is also a demand for wearables in a niche market that includes security and medical. Mike Morrow, CEO of CommandWear, is seeing a lot of potential for technological growth between different sectors.
“Once we know that police and security buy into it and start using it—guess who they work with: Fire, EMS, medical, industries, utilities and on and on, and it grows,” said Morrow. “Of course, as we grow we capture the attention of the big boys. We are already working with Motorola for example. They are more focused on the backend systems, they’re in with police, and they are interested in the big data and analytics side of this business. They are hungry for data feeds from the field.”
Still the gap between innovative technologies, integration between platforms and devices and the usability is one that will take time to close. And it cannot be done when marketable and actionable dishonestly occurs, a mistake that many pioneering manufacturers made.
“Right now we have a lot of devices out there that are being marketed as doing A, B, C, D and—people look at it and say ‘Wow, I really want that,'” said Bayan Vandrico, Lead Researcher and Hardware Engineer at Vandrico. “But they buy it and realize it wasn’t really what they thought it was. That’s because those products aren’t really actionable.”
Collecting data is one thing, turning that data into something useful is another. If a wearable device wants to stay on our wrist or on our face it must serve a greater purpose than telling us how many steps we take or how much we sleep. If our habits don’t change, then the wearables have to.
But with so much data entering the ecosystem, distorted information is blended in with the accurate ones. Tracking location is an example of something that sounds so simple in a technological sense, but is incredibly complicated in a data-heavy ecosystem. It has evolved significantly since GPS tracking to cell tower triangulations to WiFi RSSI and advancements still continues.
“To me the trajectory is figuring out the broad solution,” said Shane Luke, Chief Product Officer at Recon Instruments, “and having someone that really focuses on that problem. It’s okay for it to take awhile; you can still do a lot, even with data that is not quite right.”
Luke added, “It’s an important principal, if you are in this space and you are building stuff, to look around at what others are doing and what they spend all their time on. They are going to do it better than you if you only spend 25% of your time on it, guaranteed.”
Wearable tech currently stands on the threshold of something very exciting. With so much new data, ideas, devices and platforms appearing in the local, national and global economy, partnerships are bound to take the state of wearables to the next level—a stage where wearables will be of the time and not a relic of technological trial and error.
Posted by Elliot Chan on Apr 23, 2014
Formerly published in Techvibes Media.
On April 16, author and entrepreneur Nir Eyal approached an intimate group of Vancouver entrepreneur with a series of important questions. As a part of the Hooked Workshop sponsored by Work At Play, Eyal explored the concept of habits and addictions in regards to technology. Then he asked us all questions that steered us in the direction of creating habit-forming technology:
“Is your product a vitamin or a painkiller?” Eyal asked. “People want to invest in painkillers. Because painkillers address a burning need. They stop the user’s pain. They have a quantifiable market, they address a clear need and investors want to hear that your product is addressing a painkiller. As oppose to a vitamin—vitamins are ‘nice to haves.’ We don’t know if that vitamin we are taking every morning is actually doing its job.”
Technology is a part of our lifestyle now, whether it is built to alleviate pain or to generate pleasure. But what caused us to Google without considering the alternatives or to log onto Facebook when we should actually be getting work done? According to Eyal, there is only two reason we formed those habits: the frequency of use and the change in attitude. As a business model, that is a good thing.
“First, habits create higher customer lifetime value,” said Eyal. “If a customer uses our product for a longer period of time, then suffice it to say, they are also adding to our bottom line.” Then he added, “Second, we have greater pricing flexibility if the customer forms a habit. So when a user depends upon a product and it becomes a part of their normal routine, we have greater flexibility in changing our pricing structure.”
Growth is vital to a company’s success, but going viral—but being unable to engage customers—turns your company into a “leaky bucket business.” A product must keep customers coming back and through that consistent use, they can’t help but develop a slight loyalty to the product.
Why do we use Google? Because it’s the best right? Not necessarily—stripped of logos and banners, most people can’t even tell the difference between Google and the number-two search engine, Bing. But since we have been using Google for so long, we make ourselves believe that it must be better, because why would we use an inferior product, right? That is how strong habit-forming technology increases defensibility against competitors.
Eyal presented to the crowd the Hook Model, an infinity sign with arrows starting from the top left corner and looping around in a figure eight. This model is designed to assist entrepreneurs and designers aiming to create a habit-forming product, with the hypothesizing process of building a prototype. The Hook Model consists of four phases: Trigger, action, reward and investment.
Eyal quotes the co-creator of Twitter, Jack Dorsey at this point as he explains the method of understanding internal and external triggers of a customer. “[If] you want to build a product that is relevant to folks, you need to put yourself in their shoes and you need to write a story from their side.” So why is someone using your product? What is the trigger? How do you make them use your product as a solution?
According to BJ Fogg, behaviours occur when there is a motivation, an ability to act and a trigger that enables the action to occur. “Here is a key question for us considering how we design our products,” Eyal said. “Should designers move motivation or ability first?” The answer might not be obvious, but Eyal strongly encourages us to move ability first. Making things easier for consumer is always a plus if you want them to do something.
After the action is completed, the user will anticipate the reward. You search Google, you sit and wait for the results to pop up—perhaps your search is over, perhaps you are not so lucky and you need another keyword. “The unknown is fascinating,” said Eyal. That is why we read books, watch sporting events and develop relationships. Variability is a good thing and it helps increase the reward factor for customers.
At last we reach the investment phase of the Hook Model. At this point Eyal suggested that we all consider how we can get costumers to invest in our product after feeling the reward. How do we get them invested? “The investment phase stores value and improves the product with use,” said Eyal. “Because unlike products in the physical world: laptops, phone, the furniture in your house, your car. All these things in the physical world depreciate over time. The more you use them the less valuable they become. They age. However, habit-forming technology, when done correctly have the opportunity to appreciate. The more we use it the better it becomes.”
For example, the larger our library is in iTunes, the more value it has. The more followers we have on Twitter, the more visible our tweets become. And the more we comment on Quora and get up-voted, the more legitimate we are.
So for your next product consider the customer’s daily usage, the habit they’ve formed and the Hook Model Eyal presented in guiding your product into the lives of millions.