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All companies should have a blog, to demonstrate their expertise in a particular subject matter and provide a vehicle for two-way communications and engagement with their customers.
This blog that you are reading now is an example of that. I, as the Founding Partner of CellStrat, a consulting and start-up mentoring firm, am trying to come across as an expert in startups who has lived through the same battles you now find yourself fighting through. Not to mention, for many of you, this is your first time ever hearing about CellStrat. You may be asking, “why should I trust this firm to help me solve my startup-related problems?”. Well, hopefully the quality of the content on this blog not only educates the readers on various topics, but it also instills trust to get prospective clients to actually pick up the phone and engage with me on their various needs.
Also, this blog gives my readers the chance to voice their agreement or disagreement with various points that I am making. For example, when I wrote a guest post on Apple Pay on a famous social media site, two readers gave their contradictory and supporting views respectively. Hence, further enhancing reader education on the topic, and creating a two-way dialog with my readers, so they too feel like they are participating in the discussion.
There are two other clear marketing advantages of writing a blog. Firstly, search engines love rich content pages, and the more content you write, the more free search traffic you will drive into your website. For example, this blog is about 7 years old, and is getting 10000+ visitors per month, largely coming from people searching for information related to the posted topics via Google and some through our regular followers. That is a lot a traffic for a small consulting firm, which I didn’t have to spend one penny on, other than the 30 minutes or so that it takes me to write one post.
The second key marketing advantage is the virility of the content on social media sites like LinkedIn, face book and twitter. And, since our connections and followers are largely business people related to startups/ technology or the digital media industry in which we have worked for the last 35 years combined, there are very high odds that: (i) the articles are not only interesting reading for them; but (ii) they will most likely forward or re-tweet the articles to their thousands of collective connections and followers of their own, all ripe new prospects for my own business.
So, for the reasons above, consider a blog a vital component of your website, search marketing and social marketing strategies. And, don’t forget to ask for new followers, as I do in my last sentence below in all posts.
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December 11th, 2014
I am a firm believer of an old age adage, “it is not what you know, it is who you know” and resonates particularly well for startup entrepreneurs. And, it holds true across most sales departments of large corporates as well as most all areas of a startup’s business, including driving sales, hiring employees, raising capital and securing key partnerships. Therefore, establishing, nurturing and mining a deep network of relationships can often make or break the success of a startup. I know many of you may be uncomfortable with networking, but hopefully this post will help you understand the importance of networking and the need to break down any barriers between you and your network. Let’s discuss the various types of networking opportunities available to you.
Firstly, when people think networking, they think attending events to meet people that may be able to help them. This could be industry specific events related to your business, (e.g., strategy, marketing, technology) related to certain specific business needs, or other events bringing together like minded individuals (e.g., fellow CEO’s, fellow startups). Do your best to stay abreast of all of these types of events via your respective industry trade associations, professional associations or local startup groups with the calendars posted on their websites.
I used to think time spent on networking was time away from the business, and tried to avoid it. But, over time, I quickly learned, a strong network can actually help me build my business faster than I could on my own, and should be a vital part of a startup executive’s efforts. You never know what new client, investor, employee or other business colleague will come out of events like these.
But, you do need to be sensitive to investing your networking time wisely, to get the biggest bang for your buck. When assessing in-person networking opportunities, I try to have a good sense to:
(i) the expected size of the event (hoping to meet more people than less).
(ii) the quality of the attendees (hoping to meet more CEO’s than lower level staff members).
(iii) the location of the event.
(iv) the type of event itself (e.g., hoping to avoid dinner events where locked into one table of people, instead of roaming the room)
(v) the reputation of the hosting organization.
Equally importantly, I want to make sure I have a clear mission for the event (e.g., what specific companies or executives do I want to meet based on announced presenter or attendee lists made available prior to the event). And, keep in mind, you don’t always have to be the “hunter” at networking events. Sometimes you can get in front of more people faster, by being the “hunted” as a featured speaker or panelist at the events. So, figure out a reason for you to be the “featured attraction” (e.g., “one of the hottest startups in town”, “pro in online marketing”), which can also save you on any event fees.
But, your networking efforts should not be limited to in-person events. Networking has never been easier with the internet. You should be an active user on networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or other sites. This means having a rich profile page that positions you as an expert in your field, posting relevant news and updates to your status updates and joining/ engaging with the relevant “sub-groups” within that network. But, remember, when networking online, it should not be a “one way sale” to the audience; it must be a “two way conversation” to get the dialog started. So, an example, answering forum questions (in a “non-salesy” way) can also be a great way to make new relationships.
We all know how busy you are as a start-up executive. But, you can’t bury yourself in your office, and you can’t be bashful when building your business. Start building your network, and great things (e.g., new clients, employees, investors, and partners) are sure to follow. And, don’t forget, networking is more than simply the networking event itself: you are building long term relationships and need to follow up with these new colleagues after the event, and over time. So, manage this network nurturing process accordingly.
December 5th, 2014
TheRightDoctors is a cloud-based platform that digitises patient doctor engagement and offers tools to both. Patients can find the right doctors for their specific ailment and can take second opinions from experts across the world. Doctors get to digitise their OPD practice and stay connected to their patients through reminders and feedback loops which help track patient’s progress and step in, if necessary, at an early stage.
November 26th, 2014
ValueStrat Consulting is a Strategy Management, Business & IT Consultancy firm. ValueStrat is derived from “Value” and “Strategy” to connote “Strategy that adds Value”.
We help businesses understand where they are currently and what they need to do to get where they want to go. For this, they provide essential strategic plans and approaches, called “Keys”, to enable businesses to open up competencies and clear inefficiencies.
ValueStrat gets to the DNA of business – Desire, Need and Ability – to help you ask some critical questions such as:
• Identity – What is your business and what does it stand for?
• Perception – How do customers see you and how does your business relate to them?
• Market Presence – How do you stack up against the competition?
• Difference – How are you different and what is so special about your products?
They then help you with the solution, a road map of activities to achieve the solution, what activities are required to be fine-tuned and how they can be monitored to grow the Mind Share, Market Share & Profit Share.
The Keys cover:
• Business Operations
• BI, Branding, Positioning & Market Penetration
• Business Development & Revenue Enhancement Strategies
• IT Software & Web Development, CMS, e-commerce
• Mobile Apps
• Events, Training, etc.
Find the Keys to Recharge Your Business, explore www.valuestrat.in to know more!
November 24th, 2014
The Life Science industry is undergoing transformational changes with increasing complexity of the product portfolio, more specialized treatment, globalization of markets and virtualization of product development and manufacturing. VirtuoSource provides end-to-end solutions and expertise to help Life Sciences organizations manage the growing complexity of their external supply network.
Their end-to-end solutions are segmented into 3 categories: A-C-E
Analysis – A suite of analytic tools to perform an in-depth analysis and provide a single diagnostic view of the supply network, identifying demand-supply gaps, risks and optimization opportunities.
Curated Connectivity - A platform for screening, selecting and contracting with external manufacturers and suppliers.
Execution Experts – Expert resources to help organizations with on-boarding, project management, governance and oversight of their external suppliers and contract manufacturing and development partners.
Their ACE solutions and expertise are available ‘on-demand’, augmenting client resources and expertise while reducing the time and costs required in analysis, selection and management of their external supply networks.
November 20th, 2014
“SYNERGY Architects & Planners” is a closely-knit team of qualified, young and energetic professionals in the field of Architecture. They define spaces with the help of Architecture, interiors and Modern Vastu practices. Their motto is:
“Spaces you live in & your work define your life and Synergy defines your spaces.”
They undertake various challenging projects which demand concept development, imagination, planning and execution.
Their team work in Synergy has resulted in accomplishment of several projects with modern, innovative, imaginative yet practical solutions that solve the modern day challenges.
The team at Synergy produces modern architecture in terms of ergonomic interiors and aesthetics with an eye for future expansions and alterations.
November 18th, 2014
Tanzanite is a 4 year old young company founded by seasoned IT professionals with more than 30 man years of experience among them. Tanzanite is an industry front runner in providing mobile application solutions & consultation to its clients all over the world. They are a team of Fifty plus with separate teams for iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, PHP, QA & Design. They have developed more than 200 websites and over 500 mobile apps in this short duration. Their understanding of mobile app development environment is easily expounded in the fact that they have 95% customer retention rate and industry best app development turnaround time.
In Tanzanite, team’s typical experience level is 4-8 years in addition to Tech – Architects to guide the team in case they face any road blocks. They also have a dedicated QA team which ensures that every project is bug free (This confidence reflects in the 3 months warranty that they offer post final release).
Tanzanite team has rich experience in niche mobile technologies like Augmented reality, NFCs, iBeacon and Bluetooth low energy, Physics Engines, Complex Mobile Games, Gyrometer, Accelerometer, Camera & LBS/GPS services.
November 18th, 2014
Starting a new business can be both exciting and frightening. There are many practical things to consider — location, size, employees, etc. And then there are the anxieties and concerns: “Will I make it?” “Am I in over my head?” “Where do I start?”
A simple info-graphic about A Day in the Life of A Start-up…will say it all…
To help answer these and many other such questions for start-ups, today CellStrat founders are launching “The CellStrat Hub.” It is the camaraderie of start-ups from all domains. You may read all about it here.
November 17th, 2014
Offline Shopping(shop from the physical store) was the only option for almost 20 years ago, but then came into picture the E-commerce, leveraging Online Shopping model with deals, discounts, offers and much more to the customers. At early stage many prefer to look at a product online and then shop offline from the store, now it’s changing from going to store first, selecting the product and then shopping online from site. Here are some factors, including 4P’s of marketing on which we can differentiate both the models:
1) 1st P – Price/Cost/Initial Capital - The main factor behind any business is to raise initial capital and finally convert it to profit. Looking at Offline Store, it costs much more for renting the land, building the office and infrastructure. Either you alone can handle the store or you need 2-3 persons to contribute. While the Online concept can easily be implemented without having office space, even some incubators can help initially. You just need to build a online store connect vendors and start selling. But yes, it takes much less time to start a physical store as online needs technical things to be build up first.
2) 2nd P – Place/Location/Access - The traffic of the customers depends on the location of your store, which place it is setup and how easily public can access it. This issue always remains while dealing with physical retail until you start building-up your chain of stores across the glob. Offline stores can be started with only one, mostly, whereas online store can be accessed anywhere in the world with just internet access. Scalability is much harder to achieve in physical store, because more you build the stores, more capital you need. Online is much flexible in this scenario, just develop a site with cart, host it and let any customer from anywhere purchase products from it.
3) 3rd P – Product/Category/Quantity - Giving customers a wide variety of choice increases his second shopping and loyalty probability. This is an challenge with physical stores, they can’t include much categories, their many sub-categories and wide range of products in each sub-categories. This happens as it again requires high intensive capital and warehouse issue. Even if you consider every products, one can’t afford it in a large quantity. Whereas in online dropship model, you can accommodate as many number of products as you can because you neither have to purchase it nor store it, when order arrives, inform particular vendor with product code, they’ll ship it to customer’s doorstep. The category/product management can be the challenge in online store as per the various vendors you are signing, but can be adjusted. Touch-Look-Feel is the main challenge in online shopping as none of the customer can feel the product, get chance to touch it, and try it and that’s the reason why high end products can’t be sold online.
4) 4th P – Promotion/Deals/Coupon/Discounts - Only two things that customer thinks of while purchasing product are, Price & Brand, and that’s the reason for brutal competition in retail business. If one sells 10% disc, you’ve increase to minimum 15% to increase customer traffic. Though offline stores are having these factors to attract customers, but online stores are leveraging these factors day-by-day, focusing on price discounts. You get coupons with discounts, vouchers on sign-up, credit balance that can be used in next purchase, combos and much more. Availing these all things are very hard in physical stores, as you can’t give vouchers to customers as they enter your store, can’t have discounts or credit balance on next purchase and so on.
5) The M – Marketing - Customers will not know your existence in the market until you market your brand. For physical stores, most of them relies on word-of-mouth strategy to increase the traffic, or pamphlets in newspapers or posters in various buildings. Most of them don’t use most common strategies like newsletters, social media, digital media, testimonials, etc. This is the place where online store overtakes the other as most of them are well aware of these marketing techniques and keeping them as their base, word-of-mouth comes as secondary.
The above post was related to start-ups and medium level businesses. Yet many other factors still were not emphasized as the above are the best ones. Offline or Online depends on the personal experience and thinking about to start and grow their model, it’s still two sides of coins, neither of them can be balanced nor compared in every aspect.
July 25th, 2013
Social media today is carrying a lot of data within companies but to make that information useful , a lot of focus has to be diverted to analytics and Big Data strategies.
A decade ago, social media and analytics were not expected to see such a boom. But it has been amazing to see the amount of knowledge ( in terms of data) it has carried for the past few years. Interestingly, knowledge is doubling today at a rate of between 1 to 2 years. IBM predicts that doubling time will be 11 hours by 2014. And he most important lesson is that those who can’t manage that Big Data will be toast. Secondly, with so much of data, uniqueness of it in regards of a person or business would be difficult to expect.
According to a research from Gartner : By 2015, 35 percent of the Fortune 2000 would derive some of their revenue from subscriptions. But revenue is not profit always and even a bad subscription company can generate revenue while going out of existence as it loses money on every transaction.
To become a part of top quintile, a company has to develop metrics that it derives from customer data about use, payments and sentiments – and pursue them for optimizing customer experience and involvement. It definitely requires a lot of analytics at work.
Most of the companies today still don’t know what to do about Big Data, and they aren’t exhibiting the curiosity to find out that it is high time to work hard on analytics. The metric of new knowledge vs. applied knowledge would show a huge gap between what we know and what we do with it. No doubt, knowledge doubling is one of the biggest opportunities of this century.
April 18th, 2013