Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘smart camp

TurboTech: IBM SmartCamp Video Debrief

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For you regular readers of this blog, you know I attended and blogged the IBM Global SmartCamp Finals in San Francisco week before last…wow, has it already been two weeks?

In fact, it was two weeks ago today that Profitero was announced as this year’s winner.

Although as I mention in the videocast with Scott Laningham below — in which we talk for about 15 minutes about what I saw, heard, and witnessed at the SmartCamp finals — all the participants, as well as those of we IBM bystanders, were winners when it came to hearing some of these groundbreaking business plans for helping build smarter (and more data-driven) cities around the globe.

I also enjoyed meeting my blogging counterpart, Steve Hamm, who provided extensive coverage on IBM’s Smarter Planet blog and with whom I broke bread…err, noodles…somewhere in Chinatown.  I couldn’t find my way back to that noodle shop if I had to — I’m not sure if Steve could, either.

IBM SmartCamp Global Finals: Guy Kawasaki On Twelve Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs

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In the last keynote session before Profitero was announced as the “IBM Entrepreneur of the Year,” Garage.com founder, VC, former Machead, and all around tech cheerleader Guy Kawasaki paid a visit to speak to the gathered IBM SmartCamp finalists.

In classic Guy Kawasaki fashion, the renowned tech thought leader, former Apple employee twice-over, and celebrated speaker completely overhauls his presentation to the IBM SmartCamp finals just moments before he went onstage. The audience was certainly NOT disappointed in the change of topic.

Though his talk was entitled “The Art of Enchantment,” Kawasaki, in typical Kawasaki fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants fashion, announced he was supplanting that canned pitch with one more geared towards the gathered entrepreneurial masses, “12 Lessons I Learned Working With Steve Jobs.”

Kawasaki started his pitch by joking that he’d just been in the greenroom where the judges for the competition were gathered, and that there were five bottles of wine in there, so don’t expect a verdict anytime soon!

Then, he got semi-serious and explained he’d worked from Apple on two different occasions, 1983-1987 and again in 1995-1997, so he was uniquely positioned to comment on what all he learned from Jobs.

Before he turned to the lessons, Kawasaki suggested “the world is a lot less interesting without Steve Jobs. Most entrepreneurs would be fortunate to create one standard…Jobs created five or six (the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, etc.)

Kawasaki went on: “I’m sure right now he’s up there telling God how to run the universe.”

Then, on to the lessons.

Number one.  “Experts” are clueless.  As entrepreneurs, if you start listening to all the experts, you will be led wrong.  Time and time again people told Steve Jobs nobody would buy an (insert Apple product here)…At one point, even Michael Dell told Apple they should dissolve the company and give the money back to shareholders.  Ignore the experts. Correlation and causation are not necessarily the same thing.

Rich and famous often equals “lucky.”

Number Two. Customers can’t tell you what they need.  If you ask customers they’ll say give us better, faster, cheaper, and status quo.  Build the product YOU want to use, and that you think the world can use.  Fact: Nobody told Apple to build the Macintosh…iPod…iPad…

Number Three.  Jump to the NEXT curve.  He then explained a simple but revealing analogy.  Ice 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

Ice 1.0 was when ice harvesters sawed blocks of ice out of the lake when it was frozen and then distributed it.

Ice 2.0 saw the advent of the ice factory, so you could get ice any time of the year, and didn’t have to be in a “cold” city.

Ice 3.0 saw the advent of the “ice box,” better known as the refrigerator.

The ice harvesters did NOT embrace the ice factory, and the ice factories did NOT embrace the refrigerator.  Yet, all served the same purpose: Keeping your food fresh.

So, if you want to be successful, put your solution to the problem in terms of the benefits, NOT the process you use to get there.

Number Four.  The biggest challenges beget the best work.  Ram a big challenge down the throat of your employees.  The challenge Steve Jobs gave us was to compete with IBM.  Remember the print ad we ran. It’s headline was” “Welcome, IBM.  Seriously.” IBM was a magnificent competitor, and it was a great challenge for us to take them on.

So, find a mighty opposite for yourself.

Number Five. Design counts.  Don’t think it’s all about price.  Most people also care about design, and Apple’s premium pricing has proven that over and over again.

Number Six.  Use big graphics and big fonts.  Consider this slide when Jobs introduced the Windows version of iTunes.  It had a massive Windows logo, then underneath the following headline: “The best Windows app ever written.

Number Seven.  Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence, not a sign of stupidity or lack of conviction.  When things change, you have to react and reform.  Steve Jobs demonstrated this when he evolved from accepting no independent applications for the iPhone one year, to fully embracing them the next.

He saw which way the wind was about to blow, and he realized to bolster the iPhone app ecosystem, he needed to open it up to outside developers.

Number Eight.  Value is NOT equal to price.  Nobody ever bought an Apple piece of equipment because it was the cheapest thing.

Number Nine.  A players hire A+ players.  You should always be hiring someone as good or better than you in your own field.

Number Ten.  Real CEOs can demo.  They can run the product, show the product, build stuff with the product.

They don’t hand it over to someone else.  They DO the demo.

Number Eleven. Real entrepreneurs ship.  Don’t worry, be crappy.

Imagine you were the first refrigerator company.  The first fridge had to be better than the best ice factory, but it didn’t have to be perfect.

Once you jump curves, that’s when the real excitement begins. When you ship, you’ll learn more in two weeks from your customers than you will sitting in a dark room.

Number Twelve.  Marketing equals unique value.  Pets.Com was a classic example where that rule did NOT apply.

You have a dog.  You have a cow.  You kill the cow, put it in the can, and give it to the dog.

That was the Pets.com business model.  Shipping dog food. The problem was, it’s dead cows in cans. It weighed a lot.  It was less convenient and just as expensive to order it via the Internet.  It wasn’t unique.  It wasn’t valuable.

And finally, number thirteen. (Never mind Guy said there would only be twelve).

Some things need to be believed to be seen.

But sometimes you also need to believe in things before you will see them.

Written by turbotodd

February 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm

IBM SmartCamp Global Finals…And The Winner Is…?

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If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video’s gotta be worth a full blog post.  Rather than drone on in words about the excitement behind the announcement of the “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year” here at the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals in San Francisco, I shot the following video to capture the moment.

Congratulations again to Profitero, and the other eight finalists, all of whom were celebrated in their efforts to help IBM with its mission to build a Smarter Planet and to improve the world through their even smarter entrepreneurialism!

Written by turbotodd

February 3, 2012 at 3:54 am

IBM SmartCamp Global Finals: IBM’s Manoj Saxena Outlines The Commercial Opportunity Of Watson

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When it comes to being an entrepreneur, IBM’s general manager for its Watson Solutions group has been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.  Twice.

IBM Watson GM Manoj Saxena explains to the IBM SmartCamp finalists the commercial opportunity IBM's Watson technology presents to the world, even as he shares his own unique experiences as an entrepreneur.

When Manoj hit the stage at this afternoon’s IBM SmartCamp Global Finals in San Francisco to explain why he’s back at a big company like IBM, he started with his own start in mind.

Though he’s been with IBM for five years, and had an early background in corporate America at 3M, he started his own company in 1998 (Exterprise), which was acquired in 2001 before he started another company, Webify, which was later acquired by IBM.

One of the reasons he has since stayed at IBM, Manoj explains, is that “it’s the place to be if you want to have impact and change the world.”

He continued: “As you grow older, you start to understand what your core competence is, and mine is converting PowerPoints to products to profits.”

Manoj explained how startup culture and reality has changed dramatically from the dot com boom to present times.  In the past, you would build it and they would come, and it was all about eyeballs, traffic, and the amount of money raised as a badge of honor.

Today, if they come, you can then go build it, but you’d be well advised to validate THEN scale, and that actual revenues are the path to profitability.  Moreover, it’s advisable to take as little money up front as possible, so that you can focus on building value, a business, and not just a startup.

Ultimately, Manoj explained, companies are bought, not sold, and if you focus on building a business around a greater purpose, the riches will come.

He then turned to Watson, and the role the Watson technology is playing as IBM works to build a smarter planet.

Watson, Manoj explained, was a part of an IBM research project that followed in the spirit of the Deep Blue/Kasparov chess match of 1997, but that this time around, more focus was put on the commercialization of the technology.

What made Watson so unique was that not only is it smart at answering questions, but also that it can process and analyze 200 million pages in three seconds. The business implications of such a capability in our emerging data-drowning environment are critical. There are now 2 billion people on the Web, and “businesses on a smarter planet where people are dying of thirst in an ocean of data.”

So, Watson has been geared towards some select industries initially, namely healthcare and financial services, with others yet to come.

On the healthcare front, Manoj revealed some startling statistics. One in five diagnoses today are estimated to be inaccurate or incomplete, and there are 1.5 million errors in the way medication are prescribed, delivered, and taken in the U.S. alone each year.

And yet 81% of physicians report spending five hours or less per month reading medical journals, even as medical information doubles every five years.

Which is where Dr. Watson’s technology can help doctors with their diagnoses.  Not to replace doctors, but to help them winnow down to the most likely diagnosis based on Watson’s ability to rapidly analyze millions of likely scenarios and generate and evaluate those hypotheses to identify the “best” outcome.

As Manoj suggested, think of it as a navigation system for doctors.

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm

IBM SmartCamp Finalist Profile: Profitero — Real-Time Pricing Intelligence

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UPDATE: Profitero was announced as the “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year” late this afternoon at the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals.  Congratulations to Volodymyr and his team, and to all the fantastic nine finalists who made it to San Francisco.  You’re ALL winners in our book!

Volodymyr Pigrukh is the CEO and co-founder of Profitero, a Dublin-based startup finalist in this year’s IBM SmartCamp Global Finals which provides a next-generation pricing intelligence service for retailers and manufacturers.

Volodymyr Pigrukh, CEO of Profitero, explains to the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals audience how his startup provides next-generation pricing intelligence to help retailers and manufacturers stay competitive in thin-margin e-commerce environments.

The company is a mere one year and three months old, and though Volodymyr is originally from Belarus, he started Profitero in Dublin.

Like many startup concepts, the idea appeared almost by accident, when his associate who managed several online stores came to realize he had no way of effectively pricing mobile accessories.  So, he developed a prototype solution that would crawl his competitor’s websites and get real-time pricing information that would in turn help his accessories’ website create competitive pricing.

Profitero has already raised $1 million in venture capital, and has 13 full time employees and a few key name brands they’ve already partnered with.

So what’s the value prop? Profitero helps its clients increase sales and maximize profits by leveraging high-quality online competitive data at scale.

This, in turn, allows businesses to react quickly to changes in their competitors’ prices.

To date, retailers and manufacturers have found Profitero’s data essential for pricing strategy, forecasting, price management, merchandising planning, product promotions, and market/brand positioning.

It’s currently monitoring 27.5 million products across 2,500 European retail websites, and it plans to grow this to 100 million products in 2012.

IBM SmartCamp Finalist Profile: Skin Scan — Putting Some Skin In The iPhone App Game

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Sometimes you look at a mobile app for your iPhone and your Android, and you wonder, how in the world did they come up with that?

Victor Anastasiu, CEO of IBM SmartCamp finalist Skin Scan, has been an active contributor to the startup incubation scene in Bucharest, Romania.

That’s what Victor Anastasiu, CEO of Skin Scan, and his associate Mircea Popa, did once while sitting in Anastasiu’s living room in Bucharest a year ago, where they were chatting and having a beer.

They were discussing potential business ideas, and the idea of applying fractal geometry to the problem of skin cancer came up.

Hey, it’s just conversation, right?

Anastasiu explains that though there wasn’t a huge culture of entrepreneurship in Bucharest, he was a co-founder of an incubator hubb there called “Bucharest Hubb,” despite there being little access to the international entrepreneurial scene.

As they brainstormed and started to build an application that uses a mathematical algorithm to calculate the fractal dimension of a mole and surrounding skin, then build a structural map that reveals the different growth patterns of the tissues involved, they knew they had to find a platform that could be effective.

The iPhone was the perfect diagnosis, as it was much more homogeneous than the Android, and the app was perfectly suited to use the iPhone camera.

If Skin Scan processes the map and sees the mole has any abnormal development, it will alert the user to a needed medical visit.

SkinScan’s accuracy rate is currently at 70%, matching up to the average dermatologists’ diagnosis and suggesting that IBM’s own Dr. “Watson” could soon face some diagnostic competition in the healthcare realm.

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm

IBM SmartCamp Finalist Profile: Palmap — Building Virtual Bridges, Online And Off

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Palmap's Dr. Ronald Zhang explains to the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals audience how Palmap's point of sale and indoor mapping technology will change the way people live and shop, not only in China but around the globe.

Dr. Ronald Zhang left his home city of Beijing to attend the University of Central Florida, and didn’t go back home for eight years.

When he returned, how found there were new buildings and roads and shopping malls, and he almost didn’t recognize the place, never mind couldn’t find his way around.

After catching the American entrepreneurial bug during his time in the States, along with his PhD, Dr. Zhang concluded that what was missing in the GPS, location-based services market was the inside out view.

Google Streetview and Keyhole had captured the outside in view, but Dr. Zhang explains that people spend 90% of their time indoors — at shopping malls, restaurants, and the like.  Where was the data feed for them?

And that’s how Palmap came to be founded, a Shanghai-located company now with offices also in Beijing and Xi’an.

Though American entrepreneurialism may seem to be far removed from the Confucian approach to orderly development in the East, that’s precisely what drew Dr. Zhang to the U.S. “With American entrepreneurs, there are no rules, boundaries, you can just go mad and crazy, and only be limited by your imagination. More and more, that’s what’s happening in China, but here (in the U.S.), there’s a spirit that we want to bring back to China.”

Dr. Zhang went on to explain such people “don’t necessarily make revenue yet” but that “they have services that can change the world and make life better.”

His idea for Palmap started around the time the iPhone was released, and he explained that “the Internet changed everything in China, and those technologies are implemented by people like us. So that’s my dream, to do something with my own mind.”

Zhang’s ultimate vision with Palmap is to bridge the divide between click-n-mortar and brick-n-mortar, or as he explained it, “online to offline.”

Between those two endpoints — and not unlike his transcendence of two very different worlds, the U.S. and China — Dr. Zhang and his team plan on making a lot of people happy…and then, and perhaps only then, will the money follow.

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2012 at 1:16 am

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