Author Archives: Alexa Magdalenski

Lean Startup – Helping Ensure Entrepreneurial Success

March 6th, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Small Business and Entrepreneur - (Comments Off)

This week’s guest blog post is by Norm Snyder, partner at Aronson, LLC. Snyder is also chair of NVTC’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee. Snyder shares highlights and lessons learned from the Committee’s recent Lean Startup panel.


Small Biz Committee LogoCurious about Lean Startup? What it really means and why the D.C. tech community is talking about it?

Lean is a disruptive way of thinking that can shorten cycles for developing products, business startups and help ensure entrepreneurial success. Late last month, the Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee explored Lean Startup methodology with an expert panel led by Bob Smith, director of the George Mason University Small Business Development Center, serial entrepreneur, and venture and angel investor. The panel also included experienced Lean Startup entrepreneur practitioners Steph Hay from Capital One, Abhishek Motayed from N5 Sensors, Patrick Smith from Power Supply and B.J. Wiley Williams from Sohooked.

Bob Smith started with an overview of the Lean Startup methodology. Lean methodology stems from the father of the “Customer Discovery Method,” Steve Blank, Alexander Osterwalder, who invented the “Business Model Canvas,” and the work of Eric Ries, author of the widely read book The Lean Startup. According to Smith, the number one startup mistake is building something nobody wants; therefore, more startups flounder from a lack of customers than from product or technology failures. Do companies build product(s) that no one wants? Of course, we have all seen it.

Smith used the example of Segway, which spent over $100 million developing its personal transporter. Segway expected to sell 10,000 Segways per week by the end of 2002. According to Forbes, Segway sold 30,000 total units by 2008. What was supposed to become the mainstay of urban commuting is predominately used by mall security guards and tour groups. Segway’s failure wasn’t technical – they failed to solve a real world problem.

As discussed, Lean teaches us that startups are not smaller versions of larger companies. A good product, business plan, financial model and market research do not guarantee success. It’s easy to build a sound technical product and a financial model with the necessary hockey stick revenue/EBITDA chart. According to Smith, “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” Everyone has a plan… until they get punched in the face! So what’s an entrepreneur to do? Get out of the building! Realize the idea is only the starting point. A business model is how a company creates, delivers and captures value.

In other words, a business model is how a company makes money! Smith’s tool of choice is the Business Model Canvas. Discovering the “value propositions” is the center of the Canvas. The goal is to find the right solution to the right customer problem with strong enough demand to warrant launching a business. Who is the customer? What problem do they want solved? What value do they derive from the solution? Customer discovery is not an exact science. It is an iterative process of evaluating guesses. Get out there and interview potential customers, perhaps 100 to 200 people. Engage in a love story with your potential customers. Look for patterns and apply judgment when validating or invalidating your hypotheses. Refine, pivot, repeat as needed until you have uncovered the value. Keep focused on the benefits customers derive from the product. Remember value propositions or benefits are NOT the same as product features. Use this process to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) and not a product with all of the cool features possible. For an MVP, who is the customer? What is the specific problem the MVP addresses? How does it add value or help customers that will result in making money from selling the product?

After his helpful overview, Smith led the panel in a discussion with the following questions.

  1. How has your organization used Lean Startup? Why did this method work?
  2. What was the best and worst customer hypothesis you ever wrote?
  3. What are some best practices in customer discovery you recommend?
  4. What is the hardest interview you have conducted? What did you learn from it?

Among others, panelists shared these insights. In value proposition testing interviews, watch for body language shifts. For example, in their testing, a bank learned that moms hated touching ATMs by watching them. Radical specificity is your friend in conducting interviews. Meeting customers helps validate (or invalidate) the channel. Ask for forgiveness, not permission, in getting the difficult interviews. Be creative in getting customer interviews. A story was told about one entrepreneur getting multiple flu shots in order to secure interviews with medical professionals they wanted to talk to. Solve the market problem before you focus on the technical product development. Make sure you speak to the right customers, including those who have the power and ability to buy. The Lean Startup process allows the entrepreneur to be free to fail since you will be continuously innovating in response to customer feedback.

Remember, the customer is first, not the product. Constant innovation leads to entrepreneurial success.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Greater Washington’s Loyal Tech Talent Sets the Region Apart

March 3rd, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Capital Data Summit - (Comments Off)

The inaugural Capital Data Summit took place on Feb. 15, 2017 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. Here on the NVTC blog, we continue to share content from this exciting event.


Transp Data Summit Logo - TransparentThe Summit’s engaging VC and Growth Investing in Commercial and Government Data Opportunities panel shared approaches in analyzing, financing and building successful businesses, and the latest data investing opportunities in the commercial and government markets. Panelists included Updata Partners General Partner Carter Griffin and Revolution Growth Partner Steve Murray. MAVA Executive Director Julia Spicer moderated.

Here are some of the valuable points that emerged from this discussion:

  • Greater Washington’s loyal and expert talent pool set the region apart from other tech hubs in terms of investing. According to Griffin, “Around here…we find people are loyal to the cause and want to join these companies and really build something. I think that’s a nice backdrop for building a company.”
  • Investments hinge on a company being able to solve a fundamental problem or improve the customer experience. Companies must be able to explain why they are “nailing their niche.”
  • Investors are finding themselves betting on technology trends that may happen in five to ten years.
    • Investments in machine learning, artificial intelligence and unstructured data enterprises are rapidly expanding today.
  • While entrepreneurship continues to grow in areas beyond Silicon Valley like Greater Washington, Boston and Austin, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the Silicon Valley ecosystem that does a great job fostering entrepreneurship:
    • Silicon Valley has a strong culture of mentorship and collaboration that can be fostered further in other areas
    • The networking culture in the Valley is unmatched; entrepreneurs are confident talking about their products in a variety of settings
    • Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are not as hesitant to make mistakes
    • There is stronger collaboration between established service providers and startups; service providers in the Valley really take the time to help startups grow

 VC Panel 1 v3 VC Panel 2 v2 VC panel 3v2

Return back to the NVTC blog soon for more Capital Data Summit content!

Check out the full Summit photo gallery!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Capital Data Summit: Sid Banerjee Keynote

March 1st, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Capital Data Summit - (Comments Off)

We continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Data Summit that took place on February 15, 2017 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. Scroll down or click here to view Clarabridge’s Sid Banerjee full keynote presentation video.


Transp Data Summit Logo - TransparentThe 2017 Capital Data Summit was highlighted by its keynote speakers:  Clarabridge Founder and Vice Chairman Sid Banerjee, Hewlett Packard Enterprise President and CEO Meg Whitman and DigitalGlobe Founder, Chief Technical Officer and Executive Vice President Dr. Walter Scott.

In his opening keynote, Banerjee gave an analysis of the shift in the data ecosystem today from traditional structured data models to the growing influence of unstructured data, especially in the consumer experience sphere. He shared the need for a new wave of emotionally empathetic computing that sources customer data across many digital channels to provide customer insights.

View the full video of Banerjee’s keynote remarks:

We’ll be sharing more Capital Data Summit content and videos here on the NVTC blog. Stay tuned!

Check out the Capital Data Summit photo gallery!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Corporate Messaging Must Create These Three Values

February 28th, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Guest Blogs | Member Blog Posts - (Comments Off)

Interested in fine tuning your corporate messaging? Then you’ll want to read our latest member guest blog from Carlos Cruz, Client Relations at TriVision, Inc. TriVision is an award-winning, full service agency that develops innovative strategies to achieve powerful and creative integrated marketing solutions.


Final Logo 2014-2016 TriVision Logo v2It is in a corporation’s best interest to strategically push their value-driven corporate messaging whenever and wherever they can. Here are the reasons why:

Corporate messaging reinforces your target audience’s identity.

People like to associate themselves with others who have the same mindset as they do. It’s like being friends with someone because they like the same hobbies you do.

Corporate messaging builds a community around the same set of values you cherish. In the case of AirBnb, their strategy was to send a message that acceptance of everyone (regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other external factors) is a common human value that most can agree upon (however, at times we may need to be reminded of this).

Create corporate messages that make your target audience proud to associate themselves with you.

Corporate Messaging reinforces brand identity.

When a corporate message is done well and communicated often, those tactics boost brand identity. When a corporate message is value-driven, it often creates a positive association with your company.

Corporate Messaging told as a story, stick better.

Why is it that you are more likely to remember childhood stories like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “The Three Little Pigs” than a 30-page report on whatever it is you specialize in? For 27,000 years, humans have been telling stories to communicate information with one another. Stories connect people. Often, you will find a company’s background explaining why they choose to carry certain values. Blending your corporate messaging with a story will make your company memorable.

Remember, values are what brings all of us together. Make sure that your corporate messaging has a value-driven approach.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Harnessing Big Data at Planetary Scale: Dr. Scott Keynote

February 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Capital Data Summit - (Comments Off)

We continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Data Summit that took place on February 15, 2017 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. Scroll down to view DigitalGlobe’s Dr. Scott full Capital Data Summit keynote presentation video and his presentation slides.

Transp Data Summit Logo - TransparentThe 2017 Capital Data Summit was highlighted by its keynote speakers:  Clarabridge Founder and Vice Chairman Sid Banerjee, Hewlett Packard Enterprise President and CEO Meg Whitman and DigitalGlobe Founder, Chief Technical Officer and Executive Vice President Dr. Walter Scott.

In his keynote, Dr. Scott discussed how satellite imagery and remote sensing are harnessing big data at a global scale. He explained trends that are enabling large scale analytics and shared how DigitalGlobe’s imagery and analytics solutions are being put into practice to serve a variety of customers and social causes. View Dr. Scott’s presentation slides here.

Dr Scott Clip Slides

View the full video of Dr. Scott’s remarks:

Check out the Capital Data Summit photo gallery!

Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more content from the Capital Data Summit here on the NVTC blog over the coming weeks!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Is True Teamwork Possible or Is It Just Written About in Books?

February 22nd, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Guest Blogs | Human Resources | Member Blog Posts - (Comments Off)

Our newest guest blog is written by C. Michael Ferraro, president and CEO of Training Solutions, Inc. (TSI). TSI provides diverse performance development training programs, human resources services, executive coaching, workforce consulting and facilitation of retreats for a variety of companies across the nation and worldwide. In his blog, Ferraro shares five behaviors for building thriving intact teams.


tsi logoIn most companies, there are ongoing challenges for increased productivity and good employee relationships; and the concept of successful teamwork is always a part of the puzzle. Many companies are uncomfortable looking at team problems. Those companies are aware of the challenges they face with teams trying to work better together, but they don’t know how to “fix” the problems because they don’t know what is causing the problems.

Intact teams really need to thrive. Whether individuals believe it or not, the goals of the team should take priority over individual goals in order to truly succeed. A team should look “inside” itself, being honest about their challenges. There are five key behaviors that every intact team should understand, according to Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni has worked with thousands of senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 and mid-size companies to start-ups and nonprofits. Lencioni is the author of many best-selling business books including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team that has sold over two million copies and continues to be a fixture on national best-seller lists week after week.

His newest program is called The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team (based on his best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team). Based on Lencioni’s model, the five key behavioral areas are Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability and Results. Every individual on the team completes an online assessment and then the team report is developed. The assessment-based approach is extremely powerful. I am an authorized partner of this program and work with many teams to improve their working relationships and results.

These five behaviors are very important to the success of team and need to be honestly discussed in depth with the team. I walk through the assessment results with all the team members together and help them work through their challenges as they learn to develop into a stronger and more successful team.

Building Trust. This is a fundamental and foundational behavior of a cohesive team. Lencioni believes that trust means (1) “a willingness to be completely vulnerable with one another” and (2) “confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the team.” Can you say that you know many trusting teams? Teams always need to begin with a discussion regarding trust to be open and honest about their issues. Without high trust, the rest cannot be improved.

Mastering Conflict. Productive conflict is needed to have relationships grow that can last over time. Conflict is needed and shouldn’t be considered “off limits” in the workplace. Healthy and productive conflict is not focused on the individuals but connected to subjects and ideas. Productive conflict should not be avoided. Great teams need thoughtful debates to provide great solutions. When I facilitate this program, we also talk about those unhealthy behaviors around conflict and give the team a team map they can use to help them use conflict constructively.

Achieving Commitment. When talking about commitment, Lencioni is focused on the team’s decisions and making sure there is complete buy-in among every member of the team. Of course, some members may disagree at different points in the discussion; but in the end, there should be complete agreement to move forward with the decision. Great teams understand the importance of the commitment. Without total commitment, there will be ambiguity or missed opportunities or low confidence and more.

Embracing Accountability. This means, per Lencioni, the “willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team.” This is very important because team members must feel comfortable sharing their discomfort with another team member about their performance or behavior. This feedback is given from the perspective of wanting to help the team succeed and should be appreciated.

Focusing on Results. Of course, going through the discussions and learning about the four previous behaviors is to produce increased positive results. You’d be surprised how often a team isn’t focused on team results. Perhaps team members are focused on their own individual status, position or results. The collective success of the team is most important.

This assessment-based program will give a team a great opportunity to learn more about each member of the team and how to work better together to be truly a great team. The results we have had with teams has been dramatic, showing better team harmony and increased productivity. We also offer to come back to the team after a period of months and reassess the team in these areas.

To learn more about improving intact teams click here.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Check Out the Capital Data Summit Photo Gallery!

February 22nd, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Capital Data Summit - (Comments Off)

Transp Data Summit Logo - TransparentOne week ago, NVTC hosted the inaugural Capital Data Summit at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. With over 300 attendees, the Summit highlighted our region’s unmatched set of data analytics assets with keynote remarks by Clarabridge Founder and Vice Chairman Sid Banerjee, Hewlett Packard Enterprise President and CEO Meg Whitman and DigitalGlobe Founder, Chief Technical Officer and Executive Vice President Dr. Walter Scott, panel sessions led by data analytics experts from the public, private and academic sectors, and a top technology showcase.

We just launched the photo gallery from the event. Click here to view the full gallery and feel free to share and download!

Capital Data Photo 1

Capital Data Photo 2

Banerjee Keynote 1 Web Article

Whitman Fireside

Dr Scott Keynote 3 Web Article

We’ll be sharing more Capital Data Summit content and videos here on the NVTC blog. Stay tuned!

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Contextual Identities for the Internet of Things

February 13th, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Capital Data Summit | Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

Our latest Capital Data Summit guest blog is from Srdjan Marinovic, CTO of DC-based startup Wireless Registry. Wireless Registry indexes the world’s detectable WiFi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals in a single, searchable platform. Marinovic will be a panelist on the Identity Management in the Age of the Internet of Things panel at the Capital Data Summit taking place on February 15, 2017 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.


WRThe proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices poses new security challenges. Sensitive IoT use cases, like financial transactions and access control, must be secured against novel attacker models on an unprecedented scale. Significantly, traditional identity verification and authentication methods ‒ reliant on connection and the exchange of secrets (passwords or keys) ‒ are impractical across so many billions of wireless devices. As a result, Wireless Registry envisions identity for the IoT as a “secret-less” cloud solution constructed from IoT contexts.

An IoT context is a set of wireless devices in proximity to each other. The WiFi, Bluetooth and BLE signals these things emit create temporal clusters. For example, a home context may comprise a WiFi router, Bluetooth speaker, TV and a smartphone; a transportation context a number of cars on a highway and the surrounding urban infrastructure; a payment context several routers, a point of sale and customers’ BLE wearables. Devices can leverage IoT contexts as identities that inform trust-based decision-making prior to taking an action. A driverless car, for example, may augment its assessment that it is, in fact, parked in front of an airport terminal prior to unlocking for a passenger, based on the (anonymized) “fingerprint” of detectable signals around it.

Devices move around, so proximity is constantly changing. At any given moment, wireless things enter and exit IoT contexts. Signal contexts are dynamic, both for fixed spaces and for the individual mobile devices that pass through them. A smartphone will develop a temporal identity ‒ its own IoT context ‒ based on patterns of detections of things it encounters as it moves through the world (its owner’s wearables, item tracker, car, home and work WiFi contexts, and much more). Consequently, prior to enabling a mobile payment transaction, an app may rely on several different trusted IoT contexts to support not only that it is close to a payment terminal and inside a retail store, but also alert to abnormal usage patterns that could indicate possible theft or loss of that smartphone.

In summary, whereas legacy paradigms continue to inspire security approaches that involve keys and secrets, Wireless Registry suggests that identities for the IoT may be constructed and verified through IoT contexts. Indeed, although traditional solutions are adequate on smaller scale enterprises, on a global scale they are not feasible, and thus contextual identities are the solution.


With a Ph.D. in computer security from Imperial College London and a research background in information security at ETH Zurich, Srdjan Marinovic is CTO of Washington, DC-based startup Wireless Registry.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Environmental Data: Predicting More than Just the Weather

February 9th, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Capital Data Summit | Guest Blogs - (Comments Off)

In his guest blog, Earth Networks Chief Marketing Officer Anuj Agrawal shares an inside look into the power of environmental data and how it is making cities smarter, cleaner and more resilient. Agrawal will be speaking on the Smart Cities Panel at the 2017 Capital Data Summit taking place on February 15, 2017 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.


EN new color logoYou interact with environmental data on a daily basis. It’s there when you turn your smartphone on to silence your alarm. It’s on your TV when you sip your morning coffee. And it’s on the radio during your commute to work. Free weather data and other types of environmental information helps us pick out our outfits, time our commute and plan our after-work activities. But can it do more than that?

We here at Earth Networks think so. And so does the Smart City Council Readiness Program. All ten of the Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge Grant finalists named energy or some form of the environment as their top priority. This is because weather and greenhouse gas (GHG) data play vital roles in making cities more livable, workable, sustainable and resilient.

Commercial-grade weather data provides more than just a weekly forecast. In fact, its diverse capabilities make it a key component for resilient cities. Weather data affects a city’s population and some aspects of the economy; offering insights that no other data set can provide. Advanced weather data feeds and historical data is easily integrated into predictive models that can provide cities with smart decision-support so that you can plan for both routine and severe weather events.

As people begin to move out of the suburbs and into the cities, city pollution is on the rise. The scientific community estimates that 70% of GHGs are generated in urban areas. GHG data is so important because if you can quantify the amount of emissions in your city, you can make steps towards controlling it. With GHG data, smart cities can develop smart policies to reign in those emissions and have local, accurate baseline data to support their initiatives.

Environmental data is critical for smart city development. Both weather data and GHG data offer insights that can make communities safer, healthier and, ultimately, smarter. To learn more about how weather and GHG data can both help mitigate financial, operational and human risk in smart cities developing across the world, don’t miss the Smart Cities Panel at the Capital Data Summit on February 15, 2017.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

NVTC Publishes 2017 Data Analytics Infographic

February 9th, 2017 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Capital Data Summit | Research | Tech Talent Initiative - (Comments Off)

NVTC has published the second infographic in its new research series. In this data analytics-focused piece, we’ll take a look at the data behind the compelling numbers in the infographic.

NVTC Data Infographic 2017

Big Data and Analytics Drive Growth

By 2020, the amount of digital data produced will exceed 40 zettabytes, which is roughly equivalent to 6,080 years of HD video, a period longer than recorded history. More data has been created in the last two years than in the entire previous history of the human race. The total amount of data captured and stored by industry doubles every 14.4 months.

Over 3.5 billion Google searches are made daily and 205 billion emails are sent each day. Facebook has over 30 petabytes of user-generated data and Twitter sees over 230 million tweets daily; for scale, one petabyte is roughly equivalent to 13.3 years of HD video. Gartner projects that connected devices making up the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow by two billion to over 8.4 billion IoT devices in use this year, representing one billion more devices than people on the planet.

However, less than 0.5 percent of data created is analyzed or used.

Funding & Revenue

Venture capital funding for Greater Washington companies offering analytics products and services totaled over $93 million in 2016; the largest single funding round was $12 million for ThreatQuotient, announced in August.

According to Gartner, consumers and businesses spent nearly $14 billion on devices, which is expected to grow to $17 billion in 2017 while IoT services are expected to reach $273 billion.

IDC projects double-digit growth – a CAGR of 11.7 percent – in the big data and analytics market through 2020, growing from $130.1 billion in 2016 to $203 billion in 2020. IDC also projects that the IoT market will reach $1.46 trillion with global IoT revenue of $7.06 billion by 2020, with retail and manufacturing as the two leading IoT industry verticals.

Workforce

Analytics talent continues to be in high demand with no signs of slowing in the immediate future. Glassdoor named data scientist as 2016’s hottest job across all business sectors, not just IT. Data engineer was ranked third and analytics manager ranked fifth on this same list. One-third of surveyed NVTC members indicate they are currently hiring data analysts.

Conclusion

Big data and analytics is undeniably a growth industry by every possible measure and no region is better equipped to meet the demands emerging from the new data ecosystem than Greater Washington. With its leading data analytics firms, highly-skilled workforce, expertise serving federal, state and local government customers, and many outstanding academic institutions, Greater Washington’s big data assets are unmatched.

Click here to learn more about NVTC’s research initiatives or email NVTC Research and Strategic Initiatives Manager John Shaw.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS