Category Archives: Business and Technology

Mobile technology innovation rock stars, East Africa

I’m in Nakuru, Kenya and I just committed to extend my stay in the country for another two weeks. Destination, Lamu Island on the Kenyan coast. Flight change to The States, check. Flight from Nairobi to Lamu, check. Booking my overnight accommodations for a mere $35/night (including breakfast…and a bonus lobster dinner, but that’s another story…). But wait, they can’t take a credit card. What to do? I worked it out to have the establishment I was staying at in Nakuru, run my card, and then they M-Pesa’d the money to the owner of the little beachside bed and breakfast I was staying at. No credit card, no checks. All through mobile technology. (“M” is for mobile, “Pesa” means money in Swahili). I didn’t really think much on it at the time. Convenient for me, now a nice leisurely re-visit to Lamu.

On returning to The States, I wanted to learn more about the place I had spent the last month in. I set up my google alerts generally to “Kenya.” I get a weekly email digest of the news and happenings… online. What is catching my attention is all of the tech focus and I learn more about the M-Pesa technology. It’s quite amazing to say the least.

M-Pesa was launched in 2007 by Safaricom, a mobile service there similar to our Verizon Wireless. As of 2012, more than 17 million Kenyan’s (roughly 70 percent of the adult population) were using M-Pesa to pay for things from groceries to the little B&B on the coast. About 25% of the countries gross national product is running through mobile phones. Kenya leads the world in mobile money. And with that a bigger technology and innovation hub has emerged out of Nairobi.

Kenyan developers are designing straight to the hand-held mobile device. I can only imagine how their innovators and designers are processing information with mobile in mind, not getting distracted by designing for the computer.  Hopefully, Indianapolis-based ExactTarget has Nairobi on their radar. I think we have a lot we could learn from one another.

PBS Newshour


What’s Next on the Social Horizon?

I was visiting with some girlfriends last weekend and was introduced to a new gal who is down from Chicago. We are discussing what we all do for fun and where we like to go out both us here in Indy and she in Chicago. Of course she points out how affordable Indy is compared to Chicago. She lives on the West side of Chicago and had mentioned she never visits with her girlfriends who live in Northern Chicago, even as close as they are, because of how expensive a taxi is there and back.What if the future of bar design included being able to Skype with your friends in another location? Have a pint together. Share in conversation? You know a booth setting, couch setting, telephone booth? Think of how we are secluding ourselves from the people we are sharing a table with as we are engaged in conversation with friends that could not make it. Would being able to Skype with your friends in a setting from your bar to your friends bar she chose to patron help eliminate this? Would you be more engaged with the present?

This may only make since for highly populated areas, Chicago, NYC, LA, San Francisco, etc. Got me to thinking about how this could work in Indianapolis…Scotty’s Brewhouse. I can picture it now, Mom and Dad at Scotty’s Lakehouse on Geist Skyping and sharing a pint with little Grady down at Scotty’s Bloomington. Crazy to think?

And finally, from a girl who travels alone. On those down days, boy wouldn’t it be nice to have a pint with my girlfriends at home when I am at some café in Paris.

What do you think? How could this idea evolve into a realistic idea, or do you veto it?

Las Vegas gets a $350 million investment. Indianapolis gets a Super Bowl.

Richard Karlgaard, Columnist and Publisher of Forbes Magazine was in Indianapolis in 2010 for the city’s Race to the Summit event (powered by Develop Indy). One of the stories that he shared has stayed with me. He lives in Silicon Valley. He mentioned he was at a fundraiser or party of some sort with all of the heavy hitters and when the topic of either Email Marketing or Measured Marketing came up, it was said that Indianapolis is the home for that. Pretty amazing, right? Thank you Richard for sharing that.

I’m reminded of all of the notes I made during the conference. All of the ideas I had to get started. I had the opportunity to chat with some folks from Develop Indy following the event and I mentioned we should put together some action teams to put some of these ideas and inspirations to work. Now this conference is way behind us. What came out of it? What ideas flourished, what ideas simply died?

We are in a similar position with the Super Bowl now behind us. Indianapolis was in the spot light. I’m sure we hosted some great businesses trying to pitch them to move their operation here to Indy. Maybe even entertained some entrepreneurs to start new business ventures here in Indianapolis.

I’ve been following the Zappos move to Las Vegas. It was announced a few weeks ago that Tony Hseih plans to invest 350 million into the side of town they have chosen to move to make it a viable city. What other young companies are making these kind of investments in cities or simply their neighborhood?

For those of you who watched WFYI’s, “Naptown to Super City,” what stuck out to me was Eli Lilly and Simon’s commitment to community. Former Mayor Hudnut retells the story of Herb Simon stepping up and serving his city by way of financially backing the Indianapolis Pacers for the potential long-term gain. Again, he used the word, Service. (Mayor Hudnut’s Presentation for The Center on Philanthropy on January 20, 2012) Who is our future Eli Lilly? Are you already here in Indianapolis and looking to step up or are you someone looking at Indianapolis and excited to jump right in?

Are you apart of a young company doing some pretty amazing things here in Indy? Fill me in. How are you making your mark?

Attracting Talent vs. Attracting Jobs

In 2000, Indianapolis established a goal to double the number of downtown Indianapolis residence by 2020. How do you think we’re doing? I was referred a book that had some compelling points and if you are passionate about cities and economic development. This is a great quick read to add to your list: Live First,Work Second by Rebecca Ryan, printed in 2007. This book discusses how to reach and retain the next generation. When surveyed, “3 out of 4 Americans under the age of 28 said a cool city is more important than a good job.” What comes to mind when you read this statement? Ryan points out, then why is the measurement of economic development/stability based on ‘number of jobs’? Is it time to establish new measurement matrix? What would that look like?

My job in the coming years will not be to attract companies. 100 percent of my job will be to attract talent. — Janet Miller, Nashville Area Chamber

Our economic development goals should include increasing the incomes of all people in the region. Resulting in better education, better health, more sustainable economies and increase of environmental protection. (We have a project happening in Fountain Square to attempt at taking a stab at this very thing.) Should we be measuring the number of patents in the area? Did you know that according to the US Small Business Administration, 4 out of 5 new businesses are started by women, Gen X’ers and minorities?

This is the first time I was introduced to the idea that we are now in a knowledge based economy where knowledge workers create market value.

Knowledge is the new basis for wealth. In the future when capitalists talk about their wealth they will be talking about their control of knowledge. Exactly how one controls knowledge is in fact a central issue in a knowledge-based economy.
—Lester Thurow (1999)

What questions does Develop Indy get when a company is looking at Indianapolis as a city to bring their business to? They are getting more questions on livability. What does your city look like…online?

A city (or company for that matter) is three times more likely to retain young talent if they feel that their voices are being heard and valued. The more young talent are engaged in their community, the longer they plan to stay.

I would like to close with a story Ryan re-introduced. Atlanta, 1962: All of the cities leaders/investors/stakeholders/influencers were on a plane to Paris. The plane crashed and everyone died. Not only do we ask, will your city be able to continue to operate efficiently, but Ryan poses the question: Would Atlanta be what it is today, incredibly diverse, full of young energy, incredibly dense, livable if the group on the plane had survived? Is your city run by the PMS group (Pale, Male & Stale)? Is your city open to the new generation of do’ers that look to take on a role (or responsibility) in their neighborhood?

2018 : 930,000 Jobs Need Filled

Here’s the catch, included in the projected 930,000 jobs available in the state of Indiana (due to job growth and vacancies), 55% of them will require a college degree. With productivity growth means a need for increase knowledge and skills in the ever advancing technology involved. At this point, we simply do not have a workforce with the required skills to fill these positions. Isn’t that worrisome?

Congressman Joe Donnelly was interviewed by Inside Indiana Business with that huge headline that ‘$20/hour paying jobs are going unfilled‘. I was reminded of a presentation I attended in January where Jamie Merisotis, President of the Lumina Foundation, gave us some insight:

Today in the US, 63% of High School students enroll in college. One Third of them actually obtain a degree. If you want to compare this to other nations: Korea 58% of 25-34 year olds hold a degree, Japan 55%, Ireland 45%.

Other Indiana Stats:

– 33% of the state’s 3.4 million adults holds at least a 2-yr degree. National Average, 38% — still a little scary if you ask me.

– The state projects a college attainment rate of 44% in 2025.

Ideas looking forward:

Colleges and Corporations Must Work Together

Professors and Corporate leaders need to work hand in hand to determine what our students should be learning to be ready to enter the workforce.

Donnelly had commented that we need to make sure that we provide our students with the skills manufacturer’s are seeking and enable innovation through incentives. I would be curious to see the big plan on how best to position Indiana as the ‘Manufacturing Economy of the Future.’ Sounds very progressive.

Prospects : Increasing Human Capital

730,000 people in Indiana have attended college, but have not completed their degree.

It costs $48 to find and re-enroll each person.

Tuition Reimbursement programs are in place to encourage corporate support in investing in their workforce. Challenges in the global marketplace require that skills and training be constantly upgraded. Can we keep up?

Supporting innovation, increases job growth which in turn generates more money in our economy.

You can view Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation presentation here.

Most of the statistics in this article came from the Lumina Foundation website, with so much more information available if you are so inclined:

Top 10 Networking Tips for College Students and New Grads

1. Be prepared. Have a business card on you with your contact info. Include your social media outlets as well as your blog/website.
2. Have in mind who you are looking to meet. People need to know how best they can help you. This will be easier when you are specific. I’m looking for contacts in this role at these specific organizations.
3. Be creative and fun. What are your hobbies/interests. Share this, this is you and people will remember that about you. Perhaps on your online profiles include that interest/hobby i.e. running marathons, enjoying craft beer, snowboarding, reading biographies, cooking etc.
4. The lost art of the hand written Thank You. Have a goal to send out notes of gratitude, x number per week.
5. Be Genuine and willing to Help People. Be a connector, go above and beyond if you are called on to help.
6. Be Philanthropic. Volunteer for projects or non-profit organizations that interest you.
7. Have meetings with a purpose. What are your objectives and expectations going in and make them known. Leave with specific idea of follow up.
8. Become a Resource for others in your area of expertise and activity interests. Perhaps start a blog on wordpress or tumblr.
9. Connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn and Kelley InCircle where appropriate. These are great networking tools that will help you be more productive.
10. Work the room. Shoot to spend a few minutes with everyone in the room, or go in with a goal to meet x number of new people.


The Authentic Influencer

As I’m looking through my twitter feed waiting for ‘the social network’ to begin, I found a tweet that read ‘the nation could care less about #thesocialnetwork’. I was intrigued for more…CLICK: the full statement read, ‘the social network is doing really well on the east coast, the west coast and a little blip in Chicago, the rest of the nation could care less.’ facebook is used by 500 million people now, this is the business story that will be told for generations. Why is it not capturing more interest? This is something most use daily checking in as often as email.

The movie inspired me, as most others, to think, which I was really excited about. When I think about facebook, I see it’s success broken down to three areas:

Audience : In the beginning, College Students, a mass population of inquisitive people eager to learn and socially influenced.

Labor : User Generated Content, and guess what? It’s Free.

Distribution: Viral Sharing, spreading messages like disease.

The University

Young Bobby goes to school, he’s influenced by leaders in the classes he’s in, clubs he joins, ads he sees with people that look exactly like him, doing cool things. Is he a social influencer? Or a follower? The social influencers are those who may be looked at as ‘cool’ and popular within their own crowd or interest group. Some brands are even paying students to wear/use their brands on campus. If a college student is driven enough (and of course with an authentic social personality) they could probably sell themselves out to pay their entire tuition. But would you consider this authentic?

I’m not speaking that all social influencing going on on campus is bad. Here locally, let’s use Indiana University in Bloomington, IN as an example. I used to work for Upland Brewing Company. Great organization, great beer and a step up from the light beers on other universities reach. Pitcher night is apparently on Tuesday, never been. Do you know how I learned this? Down in Louisville, KY when I was wearing an Upland shirt. The gentleman that approached me at the local coffee shop had went to school there and of course had an emotional connection with the brand as it defined the best experience of his life. College Days! His emotional connection to this time in his life was so strong he wanted to tell me about it and not only that offer to help me expand Upland’s brand presence in Louisville. He gave me a good list of accounts he thought Upland would be a good fit at. (I sure followed up on that list and of course was grateful for his help.) This was only one experience of many with Upland. College grads are now an authentic street team as they leave campus and plant their roots in other communities.

How do you leverage these relationships? How does a company maintain a relationship with these fresh college grads? The answer will more than likely include facebook. Are you an influencer or a follower?

I’m noticing more and more business starting up around The University. Well, it works. What brands or examples can you think of with Authentic Street Team opportunities centered around brand loyalty?