Posts tagged MITX
Posts tagged MITX
by Trish Fontanilla, Community Manager at Vsnap
(MITX President Debi Kleiman with the team from Wayfair)
While I was at the MITX summit, someone mentioned reading the whole Amazon.com internal doctrine, but I’ll sum it up for you with my favorite quote from it: “Above all else, align with customers. Win when they win. Win only when they win.” That was the theme that sang through the 13 panels and discussions MITX curated to get to what’s next on the e-commerce front: understand your customer. So what are companies doing to help their customers win?
They’re providing outstanding customer service…
Steve Davis, President of RueLaLa, said that they have a team of concierges at Rue. Why? Because customer service is usually reactionary. Concierges anticipate your needs. Awesome customer service also comes down to being human. Kaspersky Labs added an option for online customer chat in 2012. According to their VP of North American Online Sales, Julie Toman, that drove $6 million in incremental sales. The world may be moving at lightning speed with technology, but customers will always value that human connection.
They’re making sure the mobile experience fits customer’s needs…
There’s no catch-all advice for what a company should do on mobile except for one thing: do what’s right for your customer. Michael Putnam, Vice President and General Manager of Mobile at RueLaLa said that it’s easy to get caught up in the tech wars but customer experience starts with audience not technology, “Do less but better”. Rue has an iOS-only app because that’s where a majority of their traffic is coming from. Matthew Mahoney, Product Manager for Mobile at TripAdvisor, said they went with a hybrid that sits between a native app and responsive design. This is useful for them because of unified analytics and ability to iterate quickly, but it also fits their customer. A last tidbit from Mark Berinato, Associate Creative Director of Experience Design at SapientNitro, was to not forget to factor what actions you want your customers to take. At the end of the day, if this customer centricity isn’t driving revenue somehow, it won’t stick.
They understand and act on online purchases being emotional…
This was big in the Boston Fashion panel with Aubrie Pagano of Bow & Drape, Michael Manning from CustomMade, Brian Kalma from Gemvara, and Fan Bi of Blank Label. There has to be some hand-holding if you’re going to have a customized product like the companies above, but also because online purchases can be emotional. At Bow & Drape, they have a photorealistic technology that changes the design whenever someone adds any trim to a dress or any of their products. Because a consumer can’t touch or feel the fabric in person, (or if you’re speaking generally, connect with the product), it’s important to create a feel as close to the real thing as possible.
They’re helpful and available on social…
And this doesn’t mean pushing advertisements into customers’ social feeds. Prat Vemana, Director of Staples Velocity Lab & Mobile, pointed out that their LinkedIn groups are not about selling products, they’re about reaching and creating community. This may seem like a nice sentiment from the world’s second largest e-commerce company, but it goes for everyone. Jill Sherman’s company, Modalyst, is pre-funding, and during her panel she emphasized just how important social media and referrals have been for her, both pre-launch and now during their private beta.
And well, they’re wherever their customers are…
Customers. Are. Everywhere. And that means we have to be ready for them wherever they are. If you’re Staples and you have a website and a store, there needs to be innovation that allows a customer to buy online and pick up at the store. And let’s not forget about device trends too. Gary Lombardo, Multichannel & Mobile Product Marketing at Demandware, brought up the rising use/sales of tablets, also known as “couch commerce”. Being tablet-friendly is important because that’s where a customer is more likely to research AND buy.
And that’s just some of the conversation that happened that day. To see all the panels click here or check out this Storify with the 700+ tweets that the attendees created that day alone!
Click here to view the full feed on Storify.
We helped produce an amazing panel on Monday night, Top Tools for Small Businesses, in the event space at MassChallenge (also home to Vsnap World HQ). And behind every successful event, there are a whole lot of thank yous to dole out.
First off, we wanted to thank all of the fabulous attendees, you made the event so fun and we’re appreciative of every question and every bit of feedback you had for us. We also wanted to thank the very warm, quick, full-o-energy Debi Kleiman (President of MITX) for stepping in as moderator. As well as Ben Jabbawy (CEO of Privy) and Tom O’Keefe (BostonTweet / Brand Ambassador for Pingup), who were both so informative and engaging.
We’d also like to thank Ed Tarlow (shown below on the right) of Tarlow, Breed, Hart & Rodgers, P.C. and the Family Business Association (of MA) for sponsoring the food and some of the beverages for the evening.
And to JC Tetreault (the man bathed in light on the left in the picture above) of Trillium Brewing (a local, family-owned brewery) for giving us all a sampling of some of their soon to be released craft brews.
And of course, we cannot forget, MassChallenge for their continued support of 2012 Finalists like us. Not pictured is Erica, Dave, and Jeremy from the MC team who were running around making sure the event ran smoothly.
Lose a business card? Want to see who was at the event? Check out the RSVP list here:
And finally, instead of giving my usual recap, I’d like to leave it to our incredible audience of tweeters to dispense some of the nuggets of wisdom they picked up from the event (via Storify). But first, if you want to watch the entire panel, check out the video below. Warning: the running time is 1:03:40 - so go grab some popcorn and a notebook.
To our vsnappers in the Boston area, we’d like to invite you to an event here at MassChallenge that we are a part of, called Top Tools for Small Businesses. You can head to the Eventbrite page for more information: http://toptoolsforsmallbiz.eventbrite.com or you can watch the short video (featuring Vsnap CEO Dave McLaughlin) here in the blog post. The moderator will be Debi Kleiman of MITX and the panel will include Boston-based startups Privy, Pingup, and well, us.
Hope to see you there!
PS - There is a little bit of sound distortion because of the background noise in our office. It’s more noticeable if you’re rockin’ some headphones. Sorry! I guess this is what happens when you make videos longer than a vsnap?
A great night for the whole tech/creative community. Here are some of the highlights from the program.
Debi followed that up by saying that the award plaques were still in a warehouse in Ohio, so her team had scrambled and were going to give out old school cheerleader megaphones to each of the winners. It was clever, fun-spirited, and captured the sense of community that was at the heart of the event. As well as the feeling that everyone was rooting for each other, and the idea that along with winning comes the responsibility to champion the community.
The awards were hosted by Jeremy Weiskotten of Terrible Labs (aka @doctorzaius and host of Scotch-O-Clock) who rocked a super-original, very funny riff in which he used 75 or so words that ended in “-ation.” Like, “Innovation is the salvation of our nation” and “any limitation is a figment of our imagination.”
That’s what I’m calling the voice-over guy whose disembodied voice read off the finalists, Oscar-style. Company name and product name. But for probably 75% of the finalists, those names were the same. So there was a lot of, “And the finalists are: Vsnap. Vsnap. Privy. Privy.” And so on. Pretty hilarious.
By the way, my personal favorite voice-over is the one on Frontline. (Okay, I love Ron Howard on Arrested Development too). And FYI, that actor who does the Frontline voice is based in Cambridge. Will Lyman. Maybe hire him next year? Not only is he an awesome performer with an instrument for a voice, I think it’s also very hard to imagine the whole room snickering at the Frontline guy.
HALL OF FAMER
Bill made this amazing statement that he invests only in intention. He actually finds looking at the product a distraction from his ability to understand a founder’s intention. He used the Declaration of Independence as an example of how powerful a statement of intention can be, how inspiring. To read more about Bill’s use of the Constitution as a metaphor for what happens with a startup, check out this post. And to learn more about his ideas about building your startup from the heart by checking out these videos here. (Thanks, Bobbie!)
Finally, props to MITX Chairman and Mullen CEO Joe Grimaldi, who got pretty damn fired up in the remarks he made before giving out the last few awards. The quote I liked was something like “The future of everything is starting right here in Boston. Just like it has in the past.”
Amen, Joe. Amen.
Huge massive congrats to the MITX team on a great night, and thanks to all of the sponsors. Congratulations also to all the winners, and to all of our fellow finalists. We’re really honored to be working alongside you in this amazing startup community.
And let’s none of us forget the words that framed this whole night: GO BIG!
(For a list of the evening’s winners, check out MITX’s Winners Circle.)
Last week, Vsnap was named a finalist for a MITX Innovation Award in the category “Best Customer Engagement Driver”. This feels like more evidence that folks are excited about our vision of companies communicating with customers in a way that for recipients feels more human, but for businesses is still very easy. We are really honored to be included, especially because MITX had a record-breaking number of entries this year
Here’s BostInno’s list of all finalists in all categories. And below are my quick capsule summaries of the six great finalists in our category and what our companies do. I’ve taken the language from their sites and kept my own paraphrasing to a minimum.
· Affinova enables innovative organizations to drive better ideas to market faster. “Our technology searches the space of viable options to find the top concepts, benchmarketing them against active competition.”
· HubSpot All-in-One Marketing Software gives you all the tools to make marketing that people will actually love. Create content that helps you get found, convert, analyze and integrate.
· SnapApp makes it easy for brands, publishers and agencies to foster conversations across the web, social and mobile. Create interactive, rather than static, content such as surveys & polls, sweepstakes, and quizzes that can be shared on any platform.
· TalkTo’s value proposition is this: “Text any business and get on with your day.”
· WordStream’s vision is to help SMBs and their agencies leverage the power of search marketing for customer acquisition at lower costs.
· Vsnap makes it easy to send short video messages as a more personal alternative to email. Users engage their recipients more deeply and drive behavior at much higher levels. Vsnap recipients take action up to 41% more than email recipients.
At a high level, I see the category dividing into two buckets.
· Content / Search
· Direct Communication
I think that’s actually a pretty interesting slice, but I want to be sure to point out that within those buckets there’s a ton of differentiation. These are awesome companies, and we’re really proud to be considered alongside them. What’s more, we’re looking forward to meeting those teams and lots of other folks at the MITX Awards shindig on June 12!
You can get your tickets here. And be aware: the early bird price expires on May 11.