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Startup Story: Finding Gaps in a Market Can Happen Purely by Chance

 

by Sramana Mitra -

startup story

Successful entrepreneurial ventures are often based on business solutions and ideas that strive to plug a gap in the market. Once you identify the gaps and pain points, you work towards solutions and formulate a business idea.

And most often, finding the gaps in a market happens purely by accident rather than by design. It was also by chance that Ronnie Guha came upon the market forGeoLoqal, a mobile platform-as-a-service for location-specific applications.

Ronnie Guha, the co-founder of GeoLoqal, is a Chemical engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology. He is a self-confessed geek and has spent more than half of his 15-year career selling professional services and solutions at companies like IBM, Informatica, Oracle/BEA, and VMware.

Ronnie’s Startup Story

The story begins when Ronnie was testing out his parking finder app, SpotNPark. This real-time, geolocation-dependent app would crowd source street intelligence about parking and sell the info to drivers looking for parking. This app was targeting the biggest cities in the world where parking is a nightmare. While programming this app, Ronnie had to constantly walk/drive around the streets to “field test” the app – a major waste of time and money.

Ronnie realized that while millions of apps were being developed, none of the platforms provided a robust, scalable way to simulate and test user motion or geolocation worldwide. There is a distinctive shift towards location-relevant services, products, and apps. And before releasing, location-based apps had to be field tested. TeleNav and a few large Indian outsourcing firms he talked to confirmed that they either invested in field testing or won large field testing contracts.

He saw a gap in the market that he could capitalize on.

What Ronnie Did Next. . .

Ronnie next reached out to a former colleague, Amiya Mansingh who was the founder of Cobi, a consulting firm. They had both worked together for four years at a consulting firm. Amiya had built about 40 mobile apps and GIS (Geographical Information Systems), big data and fast data related fields with some fortune 500 companies. He had built the GIS extension for Aster Data and had a very good grasp of the complexities involved with GIS computation/calculations. He was one of the few that had worked on projects that involved segmenting the entire USA in 100X100m geolocation tiles and running risk calculations based on such tiles.

He understood the concept and the need for a platform like GeoLoqal – that is how GeoLoqal was born.

Amiya and Ronnie financed the company for the first couple of months with their own funds. They then took on big data consulting projects to bootstrap the company with services revenues. They went live with the product in January 2013. With a freemium model, they soon had about 300 users. As conversions became a challenge, they transitioned to a per device pricing model.

Moving Towards Customer Acquisition

Currently, GeoLoqal is focusing on enterprise customer acquisition. After the first few enterprise sales, it will aggressively target the profitable verticals through partner channels and OEMs. Its current revenue is at $100,000 and it expects to be profitable in the first quarter of 2014.

The main value-add that GeoLoqal offers is that powerful location-based solutions can be developed without investing in development/testing, which in turn significantly reduces the time to market for mobile application developers. Although iOS and Android provide geolocation simulation, they provide limited capabilities. Developers would still need to understand complex fundamentals like KML, GPX files to simulate locations.

GeoLoqal hopes to remove these complexities and reduce the cost as well as effort involved in field testing of location-based applications.

GeoLoqal is also working on a location-based marketing platform that will allow marketers to create hyperlocal, geotargeted SMS marketing campaigns. According to a JiWire report approximately 50% of mobile, on-the-go users are willing to exchange location tracking for more relevant content and better information and about 80% of mobile users prefer locally relevant advertising.

This indicates that the SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile) trend has been gaining popularity. With Apple’s latest OS and iPhone release with iBeacon, this market is expected to pick up further and lead to increased demand for proximity marketing solutions.

As mobile gets more social and local, location-based platforms will be in play – and so will GeoLoqal that focuses on this niche.

 

 

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How Female CEOs Can ‘Lead with Impact’

deboramcl3 Ways to Set Yourself Apart from the Competition

A record number of women are Fortune 500 CEOs.

Women are launching businesses at 1.5 times the national average.

There are now 8.2 million American women running their own companies.

“The numbers are notable,” says executive and business coach Debora McLaughlin, author of “The Renegade Leader: 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits,” (www.TheRenegadeLeader.com).

“From 1997 to 2011, the number of U.S. women-owned businesses increased by 50 percent,” McLaughlin says. “And in 2011, the median compensation for female CEOs was 13 percent more than for male CEOs,” according to NerdWallet Financial Markets.

According to Catalyst, a non-profit organization, as of Jan. 1, there were 21 women running Fortune 500 companies, including IBM and PepsiCo, That’s up from seven in 2002-2003. Among the Fortune 1000 companies, there are twice as many, including the CEOs of Neiman Marcus Group, Cracker Barrel and Dun & Bradstreet.

“Nonetheless, business women still face hurdles,” McLaughlin notes. “Keep in mind, while 21 are Fortune 500 CEOs — a record high – that’s only 4.25 percent of the total and the figures hold for Fortune 1000 companies, less than 5 percent have a female at the helm.”

A recipient of the 2012-13 Women of the Year award presented by the National Association of Professional Women, McLaughlin watches the financial trends. While women are launching more businesses, they have an upward climb; studies show that women-owned companies are less likely to hit the $1 million mark and are more likely to fail.

“To claim, own and keep the keys to the corner office, women executives need to be seen, heard and to lead with greater influence and impact,” McLaughlin says. She offers three key tips:

• Develop your personal brand: Let people get to know you, your core story of experiences and how they relate to your drive and vision. As Steve Jobs said, “connect the dots,” then use transparent communication to share your story. People make better connections with people who tell a great story, and they’re most interested in the story behind the person at the top. Transparency encourages greater communication, team building and leadership.

• Develop and use your personal network. Find a mentor and be a mentor; seek out other women at your level; and accept the strength, ideas and energy your connections have to offer. It is no longer necessary to blaze trails alone, and women have more power than they may realize. According to a Dow Jones report, startups with five or more female executives have a 61 percent success rate. It goes further and says that odds of success “increase with more female executives at the VP and Director levels.”

• Stand for something; position yourself as a strong thought leader. It’s not easy being at the top. Women tend to distrust powerful women, and men may view women as weak or too collaborative and sensitive. Take a firm stand on something you care about deeply and rally the organization around that objective. You will gain the respect of your peers, customers and stakeholders.

As the numbers clearly demonstrate, business is changing. Women account for 73 percent to 85 percent of consumer decisions in the United States, which gives female CEOs yet another advantage — insight into their customers’ values, McLaughlin says.

About Debora McLaughlin

Debora McLaughlin, best-selling author of “The Renegade Leader: 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits;” the forthcoming book, “A League of Her Own,” and CEO of The Renegade Leader Coaching and Consulting Group combines her experience as certified executive coach and as a top sales performer in New York City and Boston to help CEOs, business leaders and organizations achieve accelerated results.

 

 

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Five Ways to Help Your Mid-Size Business Grow

In today’s economy, it can be tough to keep your mid-size business afloat. Growth is difficult, and therefore it can be challenging to increase profits, find new markets, and become stronger business competitors. It is therefore vitally important to assess and fully understand your business situation in order to improve it.

Tip One: Money is great, but isn’t a satisfying end goal

Starting out in a mid-size business is a wonderful thing. You put your heart and soul into it, making something you can be proud to share. However, if you start your business with only the goal to make money, you will never be successful. You won’t care enough about the actual running of the business in order to make it big. You have to invest in the message and function of your company if you want to make any kind of mark.

Tip Two: Hire so you can delegate

Your team is an essential part of your business. Hiring those who are eloquent and confident is a great business move, and employees who have character is better. Your employees should have integrity, courage, ambition, and the will to work hard. If they have these qualities, you as a business owner will be able to trust them, and therefore delegate tasks accordingly.

The ability to delegate lessens the load on your shoulders, and training someone to put their all into the business along with yours will enable your company to flourish. Trusting your employees enough to properly delegate tasks allows you to worry about other things, and those with the emotional intelligence to handle it will make loyal, hardworking employees.

Tip Three: Develop a good website

These days, a website is the face of your business. If customers do not have access to a quality site that gives them the information they need, they will not give you their business. In order to catch and hold the attention of potential customers, you need to do your research.

Make everything easy to find and access, including your name and contact information. Promote your site so that it is easy to find, and put the site name on everything (business cards, ads, email signatures, and signs). Have a concise, but informative, site description. Include lots of quality and interesting content that people will want to read. And finally, have lots of eye-catching images and videos. This will keep attention on your site.

Most importantly, get your site out there! Hire SEO link builders to put the link to your site in quality articles and blog posts, to spread the word. Set aside some money to advertise on Google and other prominent sites. If no one hears about your website, the content won’t matter.

Tip Four: Customer service is the most important thing you’ll do

The truth is: you won’t have any hope of maintaining your business if you can’t build a good, loyal customer base. It has been proven that customers will spend more, and spend more often, at places where they receive good service. Take in complaints, analyze them, and use them to make your company better! People will respond positively to any improvements you make because of them.

This is especially poignant in today’s world of social media. Many younger people, when something irks them, take to social media to complain immediately. That means that any bad word will spread like wildfire, losing you a potential customer base. Therefore, you must ensure that your customer service is top-notch and at its best all the time.

Tip Five: Invest in a software that will improve your business

Sometimes it is difficult to plan properly for the future. You can’t possibly see every single possibility, every weak link, and you can miss important information that can yield an important insight. This is why investing in a software that can process raw data and turn it into insights is a good idea.

Software like IBM Cognos Express can fuel business transformation with programs that analyze Excel data, report things, analyze and visualize plans, and forecast plans and budgets. Specially formulated for mid-size businesses, Cognos Express can anticipate and shape events by recognizing subtle trends and patterns you may not have realized you recorded. Using past outcomes, real-time analyses, and predictive modeling, Cognos Express can help you visualize and actualize the best path for you and your business.

Employing the above five tips can exponentially help your business to continue to grow and develop. You want the best for the company you’ve nursed from inception, and these tips can help you realize the full potential of what you’ve begun.

Sara Stricker is part of a team of dedicated writers who contribute hundreds of quality articles to blogs and sites. Follow her @StrickerSara for more articles.

 

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Software License Management And The Benefits To Your Business

The Impact of IT on Modern Business

Creating and maintaining competitive advantage in today’s business world is not just important; it’s an absolute necessity if a business intends to survive. Competition has never been so fierce in a world suffering from global recession, fluctuating fuel costs and spiralling inflation. Companies need to streamline their activities and become super-efficient if they want to stay ahead of the game.

No matter what business you’re involved in, whether it is manufacturing, service, retail etc. maintaining a solid IT infrastructure is paramount to achieving success. Researching and sourcing the right hardware, software and information system providers for your business is a complicated and time consuming process – but one which should pay dividends over time.

Making Sure You’re Covered

However, there is often an oversight within this scoping and purchasing process – software licence management.

You might think that keeping tabs on all the software that your company runs would be a doddle, but even a very simple example can show how a business can easily lose track of what’s what and more importantly – what isn’t.

Take a small business with 10 employees as an example. You have 10 desktop computers and 10 user licenses for MS Office. You also have 4 laptops that your sales team use when they’re not onsite. Do you need to extend your license for the sales team when they’re on the road? Will someone in the office use a sales team PC and therefore will your license cover it? Well, the simple answer is; no it won’t. But who really has time to keep track of this kind of thing when they’re trying to keep the business above water?

You may think this example is ridiculous in its simplicity – however it illustrates just how easy it is to infringe on your license agreement with just 14 machines and 10 license agreements. Imagine a business with 100 or even 1000 employees and then imagine how you would keep track of your software then. The implications of not managing your license are huge particularly in the current economic climate where software companies are increasingly imposing financial penalties on companies that have failed a software audit.

Keeping Control of Your software Licenses            

As illustrated above, even the smallest business can come unstuck with their license usage, but a simple spread sheet should suffice to keep these guys on the side of legality. However, larger businesses often hire software license management companies to take the pressure off this potential headache from the organisation. With the right systems to monitor your licensing and also appropriate experience, they can ensure that you stay within your agreements whilst saving you the cost of man hours you would otherwise spend doing an insufficient job.

As a manager of a medium sized business, Josh Hartley relies on Trustmarque Solutions’ software licence management service to ensure that his team don’t break their relevant licence agreements.

 

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Global 500 Brand 2012: Observations and Evaluations

The Brand Finance Global 500 has always been one of the most anticipated and authoritative brand rankings in the world, and is used by investors and companies alike to familiarise themselves with the value of particular brands. The methodology of determining the Global 500 brands is fairly complex, but ultimately it uses the technique of discounted cash flow (DCF) to estimate future royalties at an appropriate discount rate. From this Brand Finance determines the net present value (NPV) of the trademarked brand as well as its intellectual property. The result is an accurate ranking that has authority with companies and business experts from around the world. The 2012 Global 500 brand ranking saw some major changes in the upper ranks, and some interesting evaluations can be made by examining the upward direction of lower ranking brands. This article highlights some interesting observations that have been made according to Global 500 brand reports.

Technology and Information Brands Dominate

The Global 500 brand reveals that the majority of the top ten ranking brands are information and technology brands, which reinforces the view that the current economic era is driven by these two industries. Overall, technology and information based brands increased by 79%. Apple trumped Google to make first place, followed by Microsoft and then IBM. Apple’s number one ranking may come as a surprise to many, since the luxury brand may have been expected to take a dive considering the economic downturn. However, according to the Global 500 brand, consumers still seem to be enjoying indulgent lifestyles. Brand Finance also reported that having the latest gadget is a necessity for consumers of today, according to the Global 500 brand report.

China’s Most Valuable Brands

Are BanksConsidering China’s rising global dominance, it came as a surprise that only five Chinese brands made the Global 500 brand top 100 ranking. Of these five companies four were banks, suggesting that China still lags behind the United States and Europe with regards to having globally recognised companies. According to the Global 500 brand, China’s Construction Bank is the most valuable brand at 48th position, with an estimated value of $15.5 billion. This is followed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (54th), Bank of China (67th) and the Agricultural Bank of China (84th). The only non-banking company was oil company PetroChina.

Africa’s Only Global 500 Brand: MTN

Only one African company made the Global 500 brand. South African mobile service provider MTN maintained its position as sole African representative, but impressively moved up twelve places to 188th position. The improvement indicates MTN’s growing importance in twenty two African and Middle Eastern markets. According to the Global 500 brand report, MTN’s revenue increased by 9.7% from 2012 and now connects over 164.6 million subscribers. MTN has emerged into a world class mobile operator and is set to be the African company to watch in the future.

Penny Munroe is an avid writer in business related news and topics. Articles range from how to conduct the best office search to sourcing the best executive suites San Diego has on offer.

 

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Four Advantages of Contract Management

Contract management is a system that can be used to standardize, automate and keep track of a company’s data. This can be anything from financial expenditures/gains to contracts with clients. Any industry can benefit from a contract management system. Here is a list of four benefits that contract management software could provide your company or organization.

1. Keeping Expenditures and Ordering Procedures Organized

One benefit is that it allows your company to keep track of spending/profits. If your business constantly needs to order from suppliers, a contract management system can keep track of your stock and remind you when to replenish. It can let you know how many/much of a certain supply is needed, when you’ll need it and the price (if they remain fixed). This also allows you to see how much you are spending compared to how much your client contract dictates. A helpful feature like this one can catch overspending and “maverick” expenditures so that all dealings are clear and in compliance.

2. Making Processes/Procedures Official and Consistent

For maximum professionalism and simplicity, it is best to make sure that all of your contracts, terms, policies and other company protocol are consistent. This will make training employees easier, and it will give clients peace of mind in knowing they can always expect the same conduct from your business.

If you have different contracts and procedures for various clients you work with (which many companies do), you can alter the standardized contract you have created to account for market changes that could alter product prices, political and social factors if you are dealing with a country at rest and other business components.

Also, keeping each company’s contract on hand and in official form can help you remember how to go about dealing with certain organizations different than others you may do business with.

3. Streamlined Contract Renewal

When you have contract management software in place, you can often automate many features to save yourself time. One of these is contract renewal. With Contract Logix software, for example, you can typically have automatic correspondence sent to clients when it is time to renew their contracts. These renewal requests can be sent weeks in advance to allow time for the client to decide if they want to be locked in for another cycle.

4. Keeping Employee & Management Conduct Above Board

When it comes to something like spending at a medium/large corporation, making sure everything is above board helps to create economical, working budgets. If expenditures aren’t automated and clearly laid out in official contracts, there is room for misconduct.Contract management allows all pricing, policies and spending to be crystal clear for efficient, ethical business practiced by both the company and its clients.

There are many things Peter enjoys writing about, but one of his favorites is business. If you’d like more information regarding Contract Management System, please visit  http://www.contractlogix.com/

 

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