Diggen Attends the Small Business Web Summit

As an entrepreneur, my time is limited and divided between many tasks. Making the time to attend conferences, let alone choosing which conferences to attend is a daunting task. My good friend Dina Moskowitz, the founder of SaaSMax, told me about the Small Business Web Summit and their organization where she is also a board member. I knew this was one conference I couldn’t miss primarily for two reasons.

First, our missions were aligned, since the Small Business Web Organization and Summit’s mission is to help small businesses with technology. At Diggen we believe access to data shouldn’t be complicated, nor expensive. We are building a platform allowing any size business the ability to source and integrate marketing data, so businesses can better understand their audience and leverage the data to improve their marketing initiatives.

Second, the right people were attending. If you’re speaking to the wrong audience, it doesn’t matter how great your mission statement sounds. Before attending any conference, it’s good to know who else will be flying in. Conferences are the ideal way to connect with many individuals you would normally spend weeks trying to reach. When doing my conference due diligence, I discovered many of the companies on my target list were attending, but also the right person to connect and discuss opportunities. It was a blend of technology startups and large software companies, but the people were the Founders, CEOs, Heads of Partnerships, Alliances, and Product.

So I booked my trip to the Bay Area and off I went!

Evening Before The Summit

I arrived earlier than expected and was excited to make the pre-conference dinner scheduled for attendees. It was held at the Tied House in Mountain View and I was very pleased with the evening.

It was a long table with about 15 people and it immediately felt like a group of coworkers getting together after work. My end of the table was Josh Sanderson from Lightspeed Capital, Alex Fong from Microsoft, and Sunir Shah from Olark. Josh and I instantly hit it off and connected over our GE background.  Apparently he was involved in the proposal to acquire GE Information Service at the exact time I was a program manager there.

After eating my dinner, drinking some cider, and chatting with this side of the table, I moved over to the other side to meet more attendees. Ironically, I recognized Mike Montano from ReviewBuzz, since we were on the same flight from San Diego and we were also in the same Uber riding sharing from the airport.

After an hour, Sunir moved over to this side of the table and I got a chance to talk in more detail with him. He asked me very specific questions about my business and seemed fascinated with the overall challenges of SaaS companies to grow. In addition, Sunir is a board member of the Summit and he also MC most of the Summit. We discussed running an event and creative approaches to increase ticket sales since I am on the board of Startup San Diego and we run San Diego Startup Week coming up in June.

Summit Day 1

The conference was hosted at the Google Quad Campus. Armies of dedicated engineers trotted all around and I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a surreal science fiction film. I’m familiar with the Googleplex main campus since they were a partner at the last company and I visited every so often. However, it was amazing to visit yet another Google campus just a mile away.

I attended the track format sessions in the afternoon with Anand Kulkarni from Lead Genius and Chris Campbell from Review Tracker, and Jon Ferrara from Nimble as speakers. All were informative and entertaining presentations, which were also relevant to my business. When I connected with Anand and Chris afterward at happy hour, we chatted about our mutual background in local search. They were familiar with my former company Localeze. It really is a small world in the data industry!

I finally got to connect in person with Lou Salfi and Hannah Shain from Cloud Elements.  After many phone conversations, it was a pleasure to put faces to the names and voices. Cloud Elements is a company I found researching potential partners to integrate as a key component of our platform, so I’m excited to integrate in the future as part of our offering.

I ended day 1 with meeting Cody Jones from Zapier. Zapier is another integration for Diggen, since we make it easier for Zapier’s customers to source marketing data into their ecosystem. Cody is just establishing the business development initiatives at Zapier and we are excited to watch their fast pace growth!

The night ended with another brewery event  at Steins Beer Garden in Mountain View sponsored by Microsoft. It’s nice to see the micro brewery scene booming in other California cities! San Diego still holds the title of the most microbreweries, so let me know if you come visit and need a tour guide.

The two people that stood out in my research in deciding to attend the Summit were Richard Gilbert from Infusionsoft and Pamela O’Hara from Batchbooks. Not only are they board members of the Summit and focused on software for small business, but I was also interested in sharing Diggen’s embedded service for CRM platforms and get their thoughts.

Summit Day 2

The beginning of the day was focused on speakers, which were statistically and number driven. Started with Dawn Poulos from Mattermark. I follow the founder Danielle Morrill online, so it was nice to hear a bit of their story. Dina Moskowitz from SaaSMAX had a panel next to discuss the missed opportunity and value of building a reseller program to grow your software business. SaaSMAX is a growth engine for SaaS companies and their resellers, so it was an interesting discussion to identify a viable growth channel.

Last speaker before lunch was Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint and I also follow him online, since we have similar backgrounds as mechanical engineers and entrepreneurs. I was the first person to welcome him when he walked in, so I got the opportunity to chat with him. Always great to talk with a former founder and current investor in your space.

Rarely do you attend a conference and you look forward to the food. However, the Google campus will spoil you and yet another reason employees are hooked. Being gluten free, I’ve been spoiled with the health conscious options in San Diego, so I want to take a moment to thank Christina Hug from The Makers Nation. She also manages the Summit and it was thoughtful of her to request from the Google Chefs gluten free options for meals.

Both days in the afternoon were structured as separate group conversations to have interactive sessions around a specific topic. It was called “Birds of a Feather” and it was a new format being tested by the Summit. Personally, I liked the idea and I hope it continues to develop. I also greatly appreciate when organizers listen to their customer’s feedback from previous events and adapt to continually improve the value.

Later I attended a growth session with Vasil Azarov from StartupSocials since we had talked many times before based on our passion for helping startup founders to grow their business. He was interviewing Zach Onisko from Hired and my friend Neal Bloom is launching the San Diego business for Hired.

The last session was from Bob Ogdon from Swiftpage and Sam Laber from Datanyze. I was entertained listening to Bob since I remember the history of Act! And using the shrink wrap software years ago. It’s rare for a company to continue to innovate, especially with the transition to the cloud. I had already chatted with Sam and their goals at Datanyze, so it was nice to check out his presentation about marketing technology and analytics supporting their growth success.

The Summit ended in a happy hour outside with plenty of drinks. In fact I was literally the only person left and it was entertaining to observe random people walk by. They would walk back, check out the table, and then load up their arms with bottles of wine and beer. The employment incentives from Google will hinder innovation for the rest of us.

In Summary

From the facility to the amenities, the attendees, and food, the organizers did an absolutely amazing job! What I enjoyed most, was it wasn’t a typical mass appeal event, but much more targeted. I felt that I was able to harness the full value of connecting with others at a conference by making genuine business relationships that will ultimately focus in on helping each other grow. I felt more like a group of friends in the same industry getting together and welcoming the opportunity to figure out whether we could collaborate. I was surprised to learn the conference is 7 years old and I can’t wait to be part of it again next year. Or possibly attend the east coast version when visiting my hometown!

Buzz, Buzz, Buzz! Marketing Technology Terminology Explained

With so many new tech terms floating around these days, it can be hard to keep up with what’s going on in the tech world. With big data and cloud computing becoming so pervasive, it’s more important than ever to stay on the up and up with new terminology. Here’s a breakdown of some of the buzzwords you’re bound to encounter from general to more specific technology needs in data..

SaaS

SaaS (Software as a Service) is the biggest market in cloud computing and is growing at the fastest rate. This type of service uses the Web to deliver applications, but the apps are managed by a third-party vendor. Then, you access this party’s interface on your own side, but the apps don’t need to be installed and run on individual computers, which is why it’s so convenient and appealing to users. Remember when you actually had to buy shrink wrap software, install it, maintain it, and upgrade it to the new versions? Examples of this are apps from Google, Salesforce and Cisco WebEx.

PaaS

PaaS (Platform as a Service) is used for apps and other types of development while providing cloud components to software. It’s a service that offers developers different hooks and tools to develop the platform. Microsoft Windows Azure is an example of this type of platform–it gives you tools to develop mobile apps, social apps, websites, games and more. You build them on your own but the APIs hook them into Azure and run them through the platform.

IaaS

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is a self-service model that allows you to access, monitor and manage remote data center infrastructures. A system like this negates the need to purchase hardware because you can access it all remotely through the cloud. Users have an infrastructure on top of which they can install any required platform. Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine are examples.

iPaaS

iPaas (Integration Platform as a Service) is a cloud-based integration solution. It’s a platform for building and deploying integration within the cloud and between the cloud and enterprise. Users can develop integration flows that connect apps that live in the cloud or locally and deploy them without having to install or manage hardware. This is still in its early stages and will likely be built out further.

DaaS

Data as a Service!

Don’t get overwhelmed yet–we’re not quite done! DaaS (Data as a Service) is a cousin of SaaS because it’s the information that’s delivered on-demand through the software. Data equates to deep insights, and the more we know the better decisions we can make! Between consumer data, operational data, and more- the more we understand how our day-to-day business works, the better prepared we are for future growth and scale!

MDM

MDM (Master Data Management) is a method of letting an enterprise link all of its critical data to one master database in order to have a common point of reference. It helps you be more consistent about reporting and regulatory compliance. You decide for yourself what information is considered master data and then use a software to manage it all in one place. Also minimizes future projects, since necessary data is readily available to integrate into future systems.

ESB

ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) is a software architecture model that is used to design and implement communication between mutually interacting software apps. All of this occurs in a service-oriented architecture (SOA). It’s helpful to think of an ESB as a mechanism that manages access to apps and services via a single, simple interface for the end users. IBM states that ESB is not a new product per se. Rather, it’s a new way of looking at how to integrate apps and coordinate resources.

EAI

EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) refers to the plans, methods and tools that help to modernize and coordinate computer applications. The enterprise can keep using their existing apps and databases and add new apps and technology without disrupting service. It involves coming up with new ways to reuse what you already have and add additional apps and data.

 

Good Start On Terminology

Anything you think should be included to make a more comprehensive list? Wondering how it applies to your enterprise?

http://searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com/definition/desktop-as-a-service-DaaS

https://www.mulesoft.com/resources/cloudhub/what-is-ipaas-gartner-provides-reference-model

http://www.networkworld.com/article/2182527/virtualization/iaas-vs–paas-vs–saas.html

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb190163.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_service_bus

http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/enterprise-service-bus

http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/EAI

What is a Marketplace? Business Model To Accelerate Growth

Online marketplaces are taking over the Internet. In the next year, online marketplace sales are expected to reach $350 billion, which would mark an all-time high in the e-commerce world. And it’s no wonder. The convenience and ease that online marketplaces provide for consumers means that more and more of them are popping up each and every day.

What is an Online Marketplace?

An online marketplace, also often called an e-commerce marketplace, combines products or services from other companies to bring everything together in one, convenient spot. Big-time examples of online marketplaces include Amazon, which purchases products from other retailers and then takes care of payment and shipping when it sells them back to consumers, and eBay, where private sellers are the product providers. Craigslist is also an example of one, often providing services in addition to products. The goal of an online marketplace is to curate products or services from other vendors so that consumers can easily purchase them.

This provides a complete solution and economies of scale, so companies focus on their products and services opposed to overhead business services. This delivers commodity services to companies, including an online storefront, marketing, payment processing, shipping, support, etc… However, the challenges of launching a marketplace are exponentially more compared to a direct online business. It is called the “Empty Room” dilemma, since you have to target 2 markets to make it successful. Balancing the growth of buyers and sellers creates a unique hurdle to solve in a go to market strategy. For example too many buyers with limited products or Too much product with no buyers will not grow the marketplace.

Why is an Online Marketplace Beneficial?

An online marketplace is beneficial to everyone involved. The consumer receives the conveniences — and often discounts — of shopping for a specific category of product or service, all in one place. Many online marketplaces also offer faster shipping than the service or product provider.

The service or product vendor wins, too. They receive additional business from the marketplace, which is bringing their products to a new group of consumers they may not have otherwise engaged with. In many cases, getting picked up by an online marketplace also means a steady stream of business.

What is the Upside of Having a Marketplace for Sourcing Data?

Products and services are some of the most commonly sold items online, but just as they can be curated and presented to consumers, so can data. A data marketplace saves marketers, journalists, government organizations and business people the trouble of collecting data through surveys or interviews. A marketplace that specializes in data connects people who have data — or can easily access it via digital scraping, mass surveys and more — with those who need access to the numbers.

By hosting a website providing data to those in need, an online data marketplace creates a bridge between the data vendors and the person or organization who is in need of data. This type of online marketplace provides convenience and speed to its consumers in the same way that Amazon or eBay appeals to shoppers. The only difference is that e-commerce consumers are after clothing, goods and products, whereas data shoppers are after the numbers.

The convenience that online marketplaces provide for consumers makes them a go-to destination for shoppers around the world, as well as an industry that will continue to grow in the future. But while this traditional e-commerce approach has dominated the industry for years, a data marketplace brings numbers to those who need them and it is a high growth area for the future. In addition, it provides additional educational content and tools to source the right data at the right price.

In a digital age, in which we so heavily rely on technology and data-driven numbers to make decisions, an online marketplace that provides the information its consumers are hungry for will continue to make waves in online industries. Data marketplaces are changing the way we think about the online world and provides access to more information than ever before, right at the consumer’s’ fingertips. As consumers, companies and organizations continue to hunger for information, online data marketplaces will thrive.

Sources

http://www.bloomberg.com/ss/08/11/1107_ecommerce/1.htm
http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2014/08/20/why-online-marketplaces-are-booming/
http://www.webretailer.com/lean-commerce/statistics-marketplace-seller-survey/
http://www.ebusinessguru.co.uk/10-statistics-online-marketplace-seller-survey-infographic/
https://www.pixelmedia.com/blog/5-ecommerce-stats-trends-you-should-know-about
http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/data-marketplace-data-market
http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/startups/2015/03/online-marketplace-experfy-now-has-1-100-data.html

What Is a Platform? Blending Technology And Collaboration

Inspired by the increasingly collaborative and interactive digital marketplace, the platform business model encourages consumers to not only purchase products and services but also contribute value to the organization. According to technology analyst Sangeet Paul Choudary, platforms allow users to “create and consume value”; YouTube, eBay and PayPal are just a few examples of a platform business model where customers are more than consumers — they are also contributors.

Platform Basics

The Harvard Business Review explains that a platform business is a multifaceted approach that incorporates consumers into the model in never-before-seen ways using cloud technology, social networking and mobile apps. With these methods, your platform can connect different customer groups and allow them to interact. On eBay, for example, buyers connect with sellers using the website as their base, while PayPal allows two groups of users to exchange money using its website and mobile app.

The Allure of the Platform

The platform business model is appealing to modern-day business owners because it capitalizes on what’s popular right now: interactivity, social media and the always-connected mindset of millennials and beyond. Potential customers always have a smartphone in hand, and they interact with friends through a variety of web- and cloud-based sources. Thus, creating a platform that makes the most of digital connections, technology and mobile apps seems like a smart and current way to elevate a business.

However, a platform alone does not guarantee success. For your platform to succeed it must attract enough interested producers and consumers to contribute their business, and it must be well-designed, focusing on efficiency and ease of use. Building connections is the key to success for your platform model, but not all business focus on this important step before launching their platform with sub par results.

Platform Benefits for Your Business

A successful platform business model cultivates connections before going live, and it builds a base of interested consumers and producers who want to add value to the business with their contributions. Using the eBay example, a lack of products for sale — that is, not enough sellers — will fail to attract interested buyers, resulting in a floundering platform.

When your platform is well-established, your business can enjoy a number of significant benefits.

Broader Contributor Network

You don’t have to develop everything in house when you have a bustling platform; instead, you will have contributors, such as app developers, from across the globe helping to expand your business. This rich network of contributors can respond to industry and customer demands, delivering the products and services that customers want at a more efficient pace. As a result, your business can accelerate growth thanks to its efficient and ever-growing network of contributors.

Extensive Marketing

Contributors to your platform will share their developments with their digital circle. App developers, for example, might tweet about their newest creation, while content writers might share their latest blog post on their Facebook page. As a result, your growing contributor network will deliver extensive — not to mention free — marketing for your business. This marketing can help build your customer base and see your business grow.

Limitless Potential

Web- and cloud-based networks offer limitless potential for your platform. You can continue to recruit developers and customers via the web and mobile apps, since tapping into this rich network allows you to reach beyond regional boundaries and engage with customers from across the globe.

Platform Practicality

Blending technology and collaboration, the platform business model capitalizes on modern-day trends, including social media. Choosing this model for your business can lead to growth and success if your network is well-developed, your contributors are talented and your customers are engaged. Working toward a platform doesn’t happen overnight, but the effort to build a platform can result in long-term benefits and growth.

Sources:

http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/10/why-business-models-fail-pipes-vs-platforms/

https://hbr.org/2013/01/three-elements-of-a-successful-platform

http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-to-win-with-a-multisided-platform-business-model/

http://www.inc.com/phil-simon/why-your-company-should-build-platform.html