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alessiacamera

Digital strategy

All the pros and cons of adding chatbots to your digital strategy

Chatbots digital strategy

First of all a super big thank for your amazing reply to my last article about social media, I’ve been impressed!
Among all the topics I covered, chatbots are getting a lot of hype and are the ones registering a controversial opinion. There are still a lot of people who think they’re not useful like Andy Watt was telling me in this conversation.
Why should I spend time talking with a chatting robot, who struggles to understand my points?” is a more general statement.
To me, it seems to be back to a few years ago, when brands started using social media to try to sell stuff rather than understand it was just a tool to start a conversation. Users didn’t get why they should use social media to follow companies updates. Now Facebook is driving, even more, traffic than Google.
But just a few years ago, both companies and people struggled to find the useful part of social media. Now we can’t live without them.

google-v-facebook-referral-traffic
The early tech is usually not good enough to reach the mass market and people struggle to understand where’s the value until they actually become addicted to it.
Is it what’s happening again with chatbots?

Brands and chatbots: a love and hate relationship

Taco Bell’s TacoBot let you order from your Slack messenger, Domino’s DOM helps users order from Facebook. At Whole Foods, you can chat with the Messenger Bot to get a recipe, while HP’s print bot printed things for you, via Facebook Messenger. Do we really need bots to perform those action? No, really.

Chatbots digital strategy

Chatbots are opt-in experiences. Users actually need to change their behaviour to interact with bots. That’s why users are looking to get value out of the time they spend engaging with them. Users expect personalization and immediate replies. But the truth is that chatbots still need a lot of time to learn and improve themselves.
Facebook this week said it was “refocusing” its use of AI after its bots hit a failure rate of 70%. It means bots could only get to 30% of requests without some sort of human intervention.
And if humans need to fix mistakes made by bots where’s the added value for brands and companies?

Why do chatbots fail?

The key element of designing conversational interfaces is played by design.
Users expectations depend on how the experience is designed.
But don’t forget that the technology is still in its beginning and the majority of chatbots aren’t actually intelligent. We should wait for the wave of bots with linguistic and natural language learning capabilities, which are still quite rare.

chatbot fails chatbots digital strategy

There’s also a problem related to the lack of transparency, goals and communication strategy from the companies side. Why should you deploy a chatbot? What do you want it to do? How can you make it valuable for users? You can’t think that a chatbot can actually be the perfect substitute for your website or magazine.

At this stage Bots should be very specific and give just a few options to the final user, especially ’cause they’re still learning and they don’t have the power to provide all the info and details of a website. Bots that do one thing well are more helpful that bots that do many things poorly. 
If bots are impressively conversational to start with, humans get too colloquial — and then the bot fails, creating frustration.
“You have to think about it as creating a human. If you sort of just go out there, it won’t work.” said Legowiecki, who lead the team developing the TacoBot “It’s hard to build an expertise.”

Companies need also to be transparent about chatbots: they’re robots in their early stage technology. New technologies need to fail and the industry needs to learn from that error to improve. You can’t pretend users think they’re just humans, especially when the experience they get is awful. You need to have users onboard, on your side, becoming an active part of this new tech path.

The industry around chatbots: just hype?

Back in August, the attention around chatbots exploded.
According to data provided by Botfunded, there’s been over $170M+ in funding for artificial intelligence and chatbot startups.
People started building bots because it sounded cool doing it.
Chatbots were treated like the earliest version of Apps which would eventually die, but we all know how that turned out.

chatbots startups investing funds 2016

The truth is that even if Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed that “bots are the new apps. Bots are maybe the future but it’s difficult getting their value today as we’re far from providing a valuable experience for the final users.
So, the hype is not helping, but it’s in fact, creating, even more, expectations towards a technology that can take some time to develop effectively.

Remember, less is more.

So, what should you do? Including chatbots in your digital strategy or just wait for the future development of this tech?

My advice: 

chatbots stupidStart experimenting. All social media users, even your users, like having fun. If you can’t develop a chat adding value to your user’s experience, start developing one able to entertain your users, so they can have fun and you can learn, a lot.

Users need to be accompanied towards a new era, you can’t just leave them playing with it. Your users and their engagement are too important. Change with them and develop something they want, following their needs. Chabots should be about them and now about you. 

There are a lot of stupid chatbots you can build and learn from, check them out and remember, less is more!

Tech

How women can break barriers when working in tech

barriers women in tech past

Today is International Women’s Day and while I’m heading to a conference in Italy to share my experience being a woman in tech, I want to share my thoughts with you.
‘Cause we shouldn’t talk about barriers women in tech face just today. But all the year long.

Barriers women in tech face

Everyone has, at this point, read about Susan Fowler and her bad experience working as an engineer at Uber. Even if this might be just a drop in the ocean, it’s very important in order to raise awareness. Maybe it will take a lot of time for things to change, but at least the misconduct of one of the top tech companies in the world is known.
Other engineers have also followed her example, like AJ Vandermeyden working at Tesla, forcing famous CEOs to admit that something strange is going on if women with the same skills and experience of men are not treated at the same level.

IWD Hackathon - barriers women in tech

The IWD hacktahon I attended a couple of years ago (and we won!)

A recent research by Business Insider says that more than 70% of 941 startups surveyed did not have a single female board member, up from 66% of the year before.
Scores of recent studies have linked companies with increased gender diversity to increased ROI. If you care about revenue and profitability, you should be focused on getting a more gender diverse team.

“There are 500,000 open tech jobs in the US today, and that number is expected to double in the next five years. It’s pure math. It’s very difficult to see how we can meet the technology workforce needs if we’re literally leaving more than half of the available talent pool sitting on the bench.”

So, which are the barriers women in tech face?
Why aren’t there many women willing to start and pursue a career in tech?

I think there are multiple problems: fear of working in a men-only environment, an aggressive company culture and a salary which is typically just 80 percent of men.
From a salary point of view, there’s the law(*) which help. But there’s not much we can do when we talk about culture, self-confidence and skills.
We can learn, we can study, we can be the best in the team. But we need to be more confident and been able to be leaders (even incompetent men have fewer career incompetent compared to women).

(From April 2017, in the UK, companies with more than 250 employees are forced to publish the difference in average pay between men and women workers.)

What should do we do to gain more self-confidence?

Women should be more aware of what to do, now and tomorrow. We need to know we’re great, we’re skilled, and that we can do amazing things. Even if we’re doing things differently from men. Certain barriers are easier to reduce than other. We need to start from the inner part of ourselves.
Jade Daubney
 
is an amazing, inspiring woman in tech I met at First Code Girls conference, in November last year. And she’s the one telling how we can beat those barriers.

1) Hi Jade, tell us a bit about you and why you’re passionate about women equality.

I am a Northerner living in London.  I work for ThoughtWorks and spend most of my time heading up our graduate programme in the UK, trying my best to inspire our younger female generation to be fearless and brave and to, generally, have fun. Cheesy, I know, but true! Why am I passionate? I just am. I don’t know the answer to why, but I always remember the time I learnt about the suffragettes and their struggle for equality made me incredibly angry and frustrated as a child, which has driven me to be the person I am today. I was 17 when my younger sister was born and she is my motivation and inspiration to do everything and anything I can for gender parity. I am a feminist on a mission!

CFG conference 2016 Jade Thoughtworks2) Today is International Women day, the day of the year where everyone is empathic towards women. But we need to talk about it even in the others 364 days, why it’s a very difficult topic to drive awareness to, even if we have stats saying that women are paid less than men in 90% sectors. Why in your opinion?

I don’t find this an issue on a daily basis as I get to discuss women’s equality 365 days of the year at work.  To answer your question, I think some of this is down to women in leadership roles.
It is not surprising to hear that many leadership roles within businesses are filled by males and I believe it’s an education piece.  Women bring a different perspective and the most diverse teams are the most successful teams.

3) You recently said, “women not supporting other women have a special place in hell”. And I totally agree with it. But why do you think sometimes it happens? And what’s your advice to face those situations?

Women who do not support other women really frustrate me and it has taken me a long time to learn to empathise and understand why this is. I still don’t fully understand but I know the industry is different now.
Times have changed, women are feeling empowered and are literally changing the world. Not so long ago, women were fighting to be heard in the workplace and pushing hard for their position – the recently released film Hidden Figures is a perfect example of this. I can imagine it was ‘dog eat dog’ and transitioning into an environment where every woman’s voice is valued and every woman can be a success is probably difficult to do.
My advice in those situations?  Don’t compete but definitely do not ignore it.
Speak with this person and ask how you can collaborate, share knowledge and learn from them. Usually, you both want the same outcome, so make that clear and be supportive.

4) “Sorry” it’s a kind of a “bad word” to say in a professional environment. Especially when you say it too many times without proper reasons. I promised myself to stop saying it. Why is it that bad? And how can we replace it?

‘Sorry’ is appropriate if you are genuinely sorry for doing something that you shouldn’t have done.
But saying ‘sorry’ for no reason could be considered as apologising for having an opinion. I still do this and I am still learning. I see women doing it every day and I think the only way to replace it is with practice.
If you find yourself saying it in a professional environment, then stop and start your sentence again.  Do not ever apologise for having an opinion because your opinion matters.

5) Your 3 tips for women to get more self-confident. 

  • Ask yourself: ‘What would you do if you were not scared?‘  Fear can be good, use it as a motivator.  If it does not frighten you a little bit, then you are not dreaming big enough.
  • You can achieve anything.  Anything! All the best things happen outside of your comfort zone, so try and surround yourself with people who inspire you and get yourself a mentor that can help you achieve your goals outside that comfortable place.
  • Find your best you…and own it. Whether you are the quiet person, the serious person, the introvert, the extrovert, the creative one, the dynamic one, the process-driven one…we need them all! Nothing would work if we were all the same, so find who you are and push that forward.

6) Tell us who are your role models. 

Emmeline Pankhurst and Iris Apfel.  Emmeline for her bravery, and Iris because she is not afraid to be different – and I hope I am half as cool as her when I turn 90!iris apfel barriers women in techemmeline pankhurst suffragette

 

Startups Women in Startups

London Startup Talks #3: Women in the Blockchain

Hey! Here another chapter about women in startups and their thoughts about tech and women in tech. From Social Belly to BOTs, our journey is involving more tech: we’re talking about Women in Blockchain!

Why talking about Women in Blockchain?

The blockchain technology is evolving and becoming even more attractive and there are more and more startups trying to build a business in the field. Why shouldn’t women be involved? As one of the most important leaders in the sector said, women, step in!

women in blockchain stats

Stats by womenforblockchain.com

The interview with Quynh and Neha, women in the Blockchain ecosystem

In this article, we’ll learn everything we can about the Women in Blockchain, including technology and opportunities from two young women working in the field: Quynh Tran-Thanh and Neha Murarka.
I met those amazing girls at one of Techbees’ meetup in London during an amazing night dedicated to Blockchain, of course.
Quynh is a Quant Developer at CryptoCompare, a data analytics firm for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Neha is the co-founder of Smoogs.io a startup which aims to provide affordable content streaming solutions via Bitcoins.

1) When did you understand you wanted to be in tech?

techbees meetup women in blockchain

Quynh Tran-Thanh, Quant developer

Quynh: I realised I wanted to be in tech after my first hackathon experience around 2 years ago with a group of friends. Back then I was completely non-technical, I joined the hackathon as a project manager, but since we had to finish our prototype app in 48 hours, I ended up jumping in as a front end developer, doing basic html and CSS coding.

Neha: It was multiple things that finally led me to end up in tech. I first used a computer when I was 6 years old. My father had bought one from the US (I’m from India). I didn’t know what to expect when I first clicked on that button; would there be fireworks on the screen? Would an orchestra start the moment? But none of that happened of course. But what happened seemed so natural and ever since then using and being around a computer was the most natural thing to me.
I was always more inclined towards the sciences and maths through school. My school offered limited computer science courses but I found all of them way more interesting than my other classes. When I reached college I wasn’t sure what to pick. I landed up selecting a degree of Physics, Maths and Statistics; there was no Computer Science as an option at the time. But within a year, I was bored ad even though I liked the Maths field, I wanted to do something more interesting with it. I got an opportunity to go to USA to study Computer Science and it just felt… natural… again 🙂

2) Did someone help to achieve it? If yes, how big was his/her contribution?

Quynh: There are a lot of people that helped me along the way. Especially my team at my previous job, they just threw a C++ for beginners book at me when I told them I wanted to learn programming and gave me an opportunity to work on software projects (I was working as a quant analyst in banking). After 1 year, I quit that job and joined CryptoCompare as a developer.

Neha: I guess my father buying the computer had a lot to do with it. Because of his interest in the field, I landed up spending more time than my peers on a computer. If he hadn’t bought one all those years ago… I’m not sure I would have been so comfortable with it.

3) Why do you think Blockchain is the next big thing in tech?

neha smoogs women in blockchain

Neha Murarka, co-Founder of Smoogs.io, who won two awards at Digital Catapult’s Blockchain Pitch Off

Quynh: Blockchain is very interesting, as it has the potential to fundamentally change status quo. The main idea is to decentralise organisations, industries and networks. Just think about Google, Facebook and all the services or products we are using on a daily basis: they are mostly owned and controlled by a single company or entity. Blockchain promises a democracy of organisations by creating trust in an untrusted environment. I think the idea itself is already revolutionary, I hope that the technology will gain momentum soon.

Neha: I think it really depends on the area you are looking at. Personally, I think it has given the ability to add transparency in a lot of processes thereby reducing the chances of corruption in the system. Something so simple implies so much – people can be more in control of their money in banks, identity theft is virtually impossible, government ids can be used globally, middlemen are not required.
And when looking at the most successful application of the blockchain -being used as a currency like bitcoin- there are enormous implications for how money is managed across borders, the effects on financial inclusion, being able to go down to smaller denominations, financial services for the unbanked (approx. 2 billion worldwide)… Basically making money into a digital asset can changes lives for a lot of people.

4)What are you looking to achieve at CryptoCompare, Quynh? And how did you come up with the idea for Smoogs, Neha?

Quynh: CryptoCompare is a data analytics firm for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. We provide insight and data on trading of cryptocurrencies. Through this company, I am looking to educate people about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I know bitcoin can sound like a scam at first, but I would like people to understand the underlying technology, the many advantages of it (such as micropayments and financial inclusion in the third world countries). I believe that the more people work on this technology, the safer it becomes.

Neha: My co-founder Duncan had been involved with cryptocurrencies since the early ’90s. And believe it or not, he had actually written a research paper in ’94, that talked about micropayments and the consumption of digital media through that. Finally, when bitcoin came around, there was a cryptocurrency that could fulfil his ‘prophecy’, so to speak, with a practical and real possibility of creating real micropayments.

5) Who’s inspiring you?

Quynh: I don’t have a single role model, but I take the best part of everyone I admire: The loyalty and fairness of my boyfriend, the patience and love of my family.

Neha: this might be very cliche but inspiration is all around. I learn something new from my tech team every day! This is something very important to understand about tech: it’s constantly changing and it’s impossible for one person to be completely up to date with the technology out there today.
So firstly, never be discouraged that you don’t know something but take that as inspiration to learn out of it–make it an advantage–and from that comes being inspired by the tech and people around you.

6) Best advice to give to an 18-years old girl looking to find/build her future path? 

Quynh: Don’t be scared. Make mistakes. Whenever you feel stuck in life, just read, read and read!!
Try different things but only quit if you achieved something. (I give these pieces of advice to everyone regardless of gender or age).

Neha: Honestly, being a developer is just so much fun. You can do so many different things with it… create an algorithm for perfectly fitting jeans, recommendation algorithms for your fashion tastes, identify art pieces with a computer programme, create a nurse robot for a hospital, a video game that helps people recover from heart strokes, create apps for a device that talks to your house to adjust the lights, help farmers get a credit score based on the colour of their crops… make a piece of technology do what you want it. It’s just fun and it can be applied in any field that you enjoy, may it be fashion, art, medicine, governance, media, robotics or anything else!

techbees event women in blockchain

Techbees’ Meetup [yeah, I’m the last one on the left)

Thanks for sharing your amazing experience girls and good luck, I’m sure you’re doing great!

ps: if you want to learn more about Blockchain and Bitcoins you should follow Techbees, the community born to engage everyone around those fields. And much more!

Social Media

The new era of social media is here. 3 things to expect

In my first post of 2017, I’d like to take you on a journey to explore the new era of social media. But, what’s the old era? 🙂

What was the old era?

I spent the last week or so thinking and planning my new year, taking some notes and reading some other stuff.
I also cleaned my digital library: last year I read around 18 books, quite an accomplishment! It’s been the year I read the most. Between the first books I read when I moved to London there was Socialnomics by Erik Qualman.

It’s also one of the first books I read about social media marketing back in 2012. And it’s a great one: giving a lot of examples of companies and professionals using social media to increase their sales, cutting their marketing costs, and reaching consumers directly.
Even if it’s sad seeing many companies aren’t taking full advantage of those channels still, it’s interesting seeing how social channels have changed and evolved in the last few years.

It’s funny to use the word ‘old era’ too, as we’re just talking about 4-5 years ago.
The super specific channels we’ve seen at the beginning have become less in numbers and in specificity. The creation of generic content is not very useful now. Advertising campaigns on social media are becoming more expensive but more natural for users.

Seeing an ad is not awkward anymore.

So, what’s the new era of social media?

The new era is more difficult. Of course, what would you expect? It’s more challenging dealing with social media now.
110-years-live-video-periscope We, marketers, have been dealing with social media for a while, learning what users like to do and how to deal with companies’ goals.

Social media are changing, as us as users. We want to see what people are doing much more than before. We care about likes and we want to be heard, so much, that sometimes we prefer shouting rather than talking.

If you’re a company you know that organic reach is dead and you need to find always new ways to engage with your audience.
So what’s going to happen in the next months and maybe years?

1) VIDEOS are booming.

And not only because your timeline is full of videos, but because users are actually watching a lot of videos.
Periscope, the live video app born one year ago, says that we’re not even watching hours anymore but years, on a daily basis.
And this is the situation on New Year’s Eve: live streaming videos on Facebook have reached record-breaking numbers around the globe. A lot of people, instead of “just celebrating”, were watching live videos on Facebook.
Like my grandma was watching TV, 10 years ago.

FBlive-nye-stats

You get it at this point: videos and live videos are the most important thing you can do on social media. Especially now that on Instagram you can stream live videos too. You can even choose: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? From a company’s point of view, I know it’s scary: what if users are talking badly about your products? But what if your customers are talking amazingly about it?

A friend of mine is working at King and he’s reproduced LIVE a game for live streaming purposes. In this way, the team has been able to talk in real-time with the users about the game and create real engagement with the main character. Isn’t it awesome? Check it out here, it blew my mind.

2) The new era of social media will be PERSONALIZED.
Personalization was also key in the old era. This was the meaning of hiring a community manager. Now, chatbots can replace him and speak with people directly on Messenger. They can reply to specific questions, informing about the weather, helping you to find stuff at the supermarket, telling you that the box you were waiting for has finally been delivered, and much more.

Well, actually, we won’t need to wait for having chatbots, they’re already here. For my flight to Cuba, I’ve got my boarding passes and info about the flights directly on FB!

chatbots-the new era of social media-alessiacamera

Elisabeth Nieves has created a chatbot to help her find a job. It’s here. Nice, isn’t it? Do you really need it? Maybe not.
But, expect to see a lot more of chatbots in the months to come.

3) PREDICTIONS will be more accurate.

With the FB reactions and AI understanding every day more about us, social media activity can now be leveraged to generate detailed data and insight.We’ll face an era of exploring the deeper significance of these social signals and what they really mean, at their core, for corporates, social movements and countries. Monitoring sentiment will be key.

social media manager is dead - the new era of social mediaReaching highly targeted audience means that consumers will be the recipients of ever more customised and reactive brand experiences.

Turning insight into consumer behaviour, understanding how people think and feel, based on what they share voluntarily across social media, has applications not only for marketing and PR but, crucially, for business intelligence, market research and strategy.

So, companies, be ready. You won’t need a community manager anymore. But someone able to leveraging data available through social media campaigns will allow brands to not only isolate key target groups but deliver highly personalised and relevant content that has the ability to be heard above the white noise of today’s media-saturated landscape.

Are you a social media manager? Start pivoting your career now.
Data will become even more important than producing a good copy.

About me

What did I do this year? My 2017 new year’s resolutions

H-Farm -Venice- pic by Alessia Camera

Last year’s digital detox article have ben tremendously successful, so I decided to keep it like a yearly meeting. But before, what am I worried about this year?
Last year I was experiencing FOMO, this year I see everyone’s digital bias. How is it possible that everyone’s thinking of appearing rather than learning? People are pushing perceptions rather than been recognised for their work or expertise. What’s going on? Are we getting into a world of people pretending to be, when the internet and information can help us learning everything on a fingertip?

I’ll leave it here for the moment and I’ll ask myself another question. What did I do this year? As you know I’m never satisfied and I always think I can do more. I don’t know if it’s because I’m writing it down now, but this year I think I’ve achieved even more than the last one and I’m very proud of it.

I learned to speak up in the right way

When you’re working with big companies you know that speaking up is not always a good idea.
Well, even in some small ones. But this year, thanks to the choice of going back to startups I got the opportunity of working with very passionate people, talking and arguing to make a product every day better. And I learned from their strength, from their passion and their enthusiasm that at one point you need to leave and that’s the best thing you can do to yourself.

Take your time

This year I travelled a lot, I needed it. I needed time to think, to spend by myself. I’ve experienced the first solo trip of my life, where I hear from my silences and from the inner of myself. alessiacamera-stepoutfromyourcomfortzonePeople told me I’ve been brave. But why? Just because I decided to go to Lanzarote alone for one week? I learned to take my time, book my slots and avoid the rest.
In Lanzarote’s been easy.
Not sure I’m good enough when I’m doing it in London! 🙂

Be confident: public speaking hero

I pushed myself in terms of digital marketing workshops and public speaking events accepting the invitation to speak at the Web Marketing Festival in Italy and running digital marketing workshops for artisan and handicraft associations.
It was the first time ever I was speaking in Italians to such a big audience about my experience in growth hacking. And I’m very proud that my talk has been valued as one of the best 6 out of 160 speakers!

Be ready even if you don’t know there’s a train passing: OMG!

meryl-streep-oyeah-2017 new years resolutionsSometimes you need to be ready, even if you don’t know there’s a train passing. It seems to me that, for a lot of projects I’ve been involved, everyone was just waiting for the right circumstances.
There’s a secret project you’ll hear about in 2017 (I can’t tell you more for now but I’ll let you know as soon as I can, promised!!). A few early stage startups: Rawfish is the only one I can mention, the other three are in stealth mode.
I mentored startups at H-Farm and I’m going there also in 2017 to mentor the new batch. And it’s so exciting you can’t believe. Everything I’ve been involved in I didn’t do it on purpose: it just came up as I was ready to jump on it.

Do what you’re passionate about

This year, thanks to this blog, I realised how much I’m passionate about writing. I’ve been asked to write a piece about girls in tech and to write an article about men mentoring women for the Austin startup collection. And you know what? I love the topic and I want to do more to help more women in tech.

I also worked a lot to redesign This is Not Art‘s website and to organise the international touring exhibition Personal Relations which opened in London in December, putting together 150 artists from 3 different countries. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m very happy that 40 artists are coming from Vicenza. I look forward to the private viewing in The Hague and Vicenza…can’t wait for it!

2017 New Years Resolutions

There are 3 things I’ll keep the focus on for 2017:

  1. Learning where my energy is coming from and optimise that channel, in the same way, I’ll do it if it were a traffic or conversion sources 🙂
  2. Make the projects I’m working on amazing: set goals and build plans to exceed them;
  3. Learn as much as I can taking part to discussion and online groups, without been scared of it. If you’re confident in yourself, people will listen to you and it will enrich everyone.

be a better you 2017 new years resolutions

Have a great break everyone!
See ya in 2017!

 

Startups

Are you a food delivery startup? Start pivoting NOW

food delivery startup london alessiacamera

When you’re working in a startup you need to be ready to pivot every time you see that something in your industry is changing. And I think there are a lot of things happening in this industry which is not guaranteeing a bright and sustainable future.
So, I think if you’re working in a food delivery startup you should run away the fastest you can, as a lot of things are happening giving an idea of where it’s leading to.

Anatomy of a food delivery startup

anatomy-of-a-food-startup-alessiacameraEveryone needs to eat 3 times a day, you might think food delivery is a great business opportunity to be in. You need to pick the category and decide on your business model.

It is a huge space in terms of consumer demand,” says Luciana Lixandru, an investor who helped lead venture capitalist company Accel’s investment in Deliveroo. “People eat three times a day.
“It is one of these markets, like the transportation market, that is so large and it is expanding because it is more affordable now,” she adds, before adding that no new food delivery start-up should be discounted. “It is very early days in Europe. I don’t think you can underestimate anyone.

The food delivery category includes:

  • Meal/restaurant delivery (e.g., Deliveroo, Delivery Hero, FoodPanda)
  • Meal kits (e.g., HelloFresh, Blue Apron)
  • Grocery delivery (e.g., Instacart, Postmates, Door to Door Organics)

In terms of business model you need to plan out on:

  • Decide on your delivery location;
  • Plan your operational needs;
  • Get in touch with eateries within a set radius;
  • Vehicles and delivery employees.

Work on the product, be passionate about food and be ready to charge 15-25% restaurants for your service. It does sound easy, doesn’t it?

Marketing campaigns for a food delivery startup

Apart from the brand, users need to understand the advantage of using the app.
You need to give users an advantage in terms of time and access and make easy to use the app.
It’s about to leverage technology to unlock value in the cost structure and innovate to pull ahead.
A marketing plan should not only be geared up for building a brand, but you have to invest time, energy and money on the channels which get you immediate traffic and revenue.

Goals to achieve:

  1. new users, 
  2. repeat sales , 
  3. recommendation/referrals. 

Strategies and ideas for your digital marketing plan:

  • paid social campaigns, contests, social/time-limited unique discounts.
  • use notifications and discounts to push users to use the app again through newsletters, events-related campaigns or a loyalty program.
  • bulk orders, online to offline social venues (i.e. give promotions for specific FB groups or online communities) or charity-related events.

Funding and deals in the food delivery industry

According to a recent research by CB Insight, after a few peaks in 2014 (+570% year-over-year) and 2015 (+184%), when it hit nearly $5.5 billion across 259 deals, this year things have changed A LOT.
The category’s three most well-funded companies were responsible for 2015′s five largest deals: three deals to the Chinese Ele.me raised over $2.2B, the German Delivery Hero raised $563M, and the Chinese Womai raised $220M.

Larger competitors include the UK’s Just Eat, which debuted on the London Stock Exchange in 2014 and Deliveroo, which recently picked $275m in a new funding round.

In 2016 only $609M across 23 deals in the first quarter of 2016. A fell of more than 90% in the first quarter. What’s going on?

food delivery startup-annual-2016-alessiacamera-CBinsight

On the other way, companies that deliver meal kits directly to consumers are gaining traction in the UK. According to a report from CardlyticsHelloFresh and Gousto are growing by nearly 65% in the first half of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.

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Pic by Todd Quackenbush

A few food delivery startups have already shut down: do you want to be the next?

Pronto, a London-founded healthy food delivery startup founded in 2014, has shut down in September after running out of money to sustain itself. After having raised $1.6 million (£1.2 million) last August and £800,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs in June, it needed more capital in order to compete in this crowded market.
Before was the turn of Take Eat Easy, a Belgium-founded food delivery startup backed by Rocket Internet, which shut down for the same reason earlier in June.
So, why investors are not really keen to pour more money into this category?

London is still the most important city for startups in Europe. It’s the city where you can see the trends and the reactions before every other country in Europe.
This year Uber and Amazon have jumped into the food delivery industry with UberEATS and Amazon Restaurants. For Amazon, it’s just an extension of the grocery delivery service Amazon Fresh.
It’s no doubt that venture capitalists are not optimistic anymore about funding food delivery startups. Amazon and Uber’s advantages are not just related to brand and marketing.
The efficiency in logistics, the huge database of satisfied users and the fact that they might not be oriented at quick economic returns. Which is why if you’re trying to get your space in the crowded food delivery startup sector, you can’t. Better if you start pivoting now!
And not only  if you’re based in London. UberEATS is going global, planning to open in Amsterdam, Brussels, Dubai, Johannesburg and Stockholm before the end of the year.
The market is not for the little Davids anymore: Foodpanda has been acquired by Delivery Hero to synchronise the efforts in terms of customer acquisition and retention.
Competition is hard and it’s in our city already: better if you get ready.

Startups

Best No-bullshit Startup Events in London – November 2016

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Welcome November! Well, still a few days before kicking off, but not in my mind. I like to plan things ahead!
Something I haven’t included in my previous month list: this week you cannot miss the Harambe live talk by Vincent Dignan at We Work! It’s going to be hilarious as ever. And I know what I’m talking about as we worked together last year, building Secret Sauce Conference. So, if you want to know how to make your idea going viral, you need to go not only to learn but to have a lot of fun, too. Promised!

Here the monthly roundup of the best no-bullshit startup events London (November 2016) you can’t miss!

Thu 1 November: Building a rich & helpful customer persona at Calthorpe Project [free] to learn about online and offline research methods and find out about your future customers.

Wed 2 November: SVC2UK – Masterclasses at Google Campus [free] to hear from a line-up of inspirational speakers from Silicon Valley addressing topics taking over the world of technology

Thu 10 November: Fireside w/ Alex Depledge, founder@Hassle.com at Runway East [£5.80] to learn everything about her journey of building Hassle.com and the future of the sharing economy

Mon 14 November: The Five Stages of Business Growth – Part 1: Idea to Reality at Google Campus [free] to learn on how taking the first steps while building your business. Unfortunately, this is sold out but maybe you can try to squeeze in? 🙂

Wed 16 November: Seedrs entrepreneur lunch & learn: crowdfunding campaign video workshop at Seedrs HQ [free] to learn how to create a clear and concise video for your crowdfunding campaign

Thu 24 November: London.AI meetup, one of the best meetups about AI in London. But be careful, you have to send an application to be able to attend it!

I think for this November that’s it..you know, November is the worst month of the year, everyone’s thinking of spending evenings on the sofa with a blanket, no surprises there’s not much around 🙂
But..as usual, if you’re going to one of those hit me up!

best-no-bullshit-startups-events-london november2016

Startups Women in Startups

London Startup Talks #2: How to become a Bot Builder

Hey everyone!

It’s been quite a long time since my first ever London Startup Talk with the founder of Social Belly, and that happened for a couple of reasons: I’ve been experimenting a lot with my blog and I’ve decided to reserve this space to introduce amazing women entrepreneurs in tech.

Why the London Startup Talks Series?

During this year of blogging and consultancy for startups, I realised that, even if women are engaged in amazing projects, they’re less exposed than men and that’s not fair. We’re working twice as much, why can’t we have the same treatment? We’re always involved in diversity and equality topics or easily involved in the fashion industry or blogging contests, but why can’t we just talk about tech or engineering? Is it that strange asking a woman about her love for tech?
As I’m in love with tech, I’ve decided to interview the most amazing women I know and not only because we share the same love, but also to give them exposure and highlight what they do.
And of course to give you a bit of insight of what I feel about tech. 🙂

So, a few months ago I went to a Chatbot Meetup and together with the amazing organiser Kriti Sharma (recently featured on BBC for Ada Lovelace Day) I met with Anindita from Gupshup, a Bot Builder Platform, and Susana Duran, Director of Mobile Development at Sage.
I was curious to hear from them, learning about their experience, concerns and ideas about Bots and the next technologies, that’s why I decided to ask them a few questions.
And today I’m very happy to share this interview with all of you!

The interview with Anindita and Susana: become a BOT builder!

1) When did you understand you wanted to be in tech?

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Pic by Ian Schneider

Anindita: It was a natural progression. I always wanted to do something that would help people interact. Communicate better and faster. Technology is evolving so rapidly that every day is a new with a million promises.

Susana: My parents bought me my first computer when I was 10 years old and that was a long time ago. I liked it and I took some programming lessons by that time although it wasn’t very usual. Time went by and I started my Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and after that a master degree.

2) Did someone help you achieving it? If yes, how big was his/her contribution?

Anindita: My mentor, boss and guide, the CEO of Gupshup.io. Mr. Beerud Sheth. He changed my perspective. Sometimes it is important to be futuristic yet elegantly simple.

Susana: My parents. Although they would have preferred other traditional careers, they provided all the support I needed since I was very young.

3) Why do you think Bots are the next big thing in tech?

Anindita: It is a once in a decade paradigm shift. It is similar to the web or the app wave. It will change the way people use technology to communicate. It will be a bigger and more powerful medium than anything we have seen before.

Susana: Mobile is the future and immediate and quick actions are the key. Mobile apps are also trying to follow the trail of bots with solutions like Google with Android Instant Apps but now bots provide the best and most complete solution for any platform.

Bots represent a once-in-a-decade paradigm shift. It is similar to the web or the app wave. It will change the way people use technology to communicate. It will be a bigger and more powerful medium than anything we have seen before.

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Pic by Fabian Irsara

4) Do you think there are more or fewer obstacles being Women in Tech?

Anindita: Depends. I think technology is a great leveller. It does not look at gender. It looks at innovation, usability and reach. If you have the grit and willingness to change and adapt to new things and to serve people, there is no stopping you.

Susana: Although everybody says there is no difference, women need to demonstrate more than men and by default are considered less valid for tech issues.

5) How do you think we can improve a more gender equality in STEM?

Anindita: Ability, humility and hard work. The world is changing. Gender biases will have to go away if there is talent.

Susana: Family is still a matter that is considered a woman duty, as well as all tech stuff is a man thing. Equality will be achieved when both things can be imagined for anyone.

6) Who’s inspiring you?

Anindita: My mentor, boss and guide, the CEO of Gupshup.io. Mr. Beerud Sheth

Susana:  There are lots of entrepreneurs and people who deserve being our inspiration but my inspiration mainly comes from my own overcoming instinct and my willing of continuous evolution. My family give me their support and even when I am frustrated and I think that this is too much they are always there to hug me and make me smile again.

Family is still a matter that is considered a woman duty, as well as all tech stuff is a man thing. Equality will be achieved when both things can be imagined for anyone.

7) The best advice to give to an 18-years old girl looking to find/build her future path

Anindita
:  it is important to be focused, but it is equally important to have fun. Great ideas come from a free mind. Changing these ideas to reality come with a disciplined self. All the best!

Susana: Do what will make you happy as you will probably spend the most part of your time and life on it. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s not going to be easy just try it.

 

giphy-girls-feeling-stupid

Conclusion

..and now we need to follow their advice, girls: do what makes you happy and remember to step outside your comfort zone! And if you feeling stupid, just do it anyway, it won’t be that stupid if it’s really what you want to do!

How are you feeling, girls?
Say hello on Twitter!

How are you feeling boys?
Does it sound like a bunch of stupid words? Read why we need your help

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Tech

The technology trends everyone will talk about in 2017

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I’m finally back in London, with a loads of stuff to do and many people to meet again. After having spent some time abroad, it’s always good to be back and keep in mind why you’ve actually chosen to live in this super competitive, tiring but also forward-thinking city.

(If you’re curious to learn more about what I thought about the 6 weeks I spent in Italy click here, it’s public!)

I’ve spent the first few weeks on writing stuff, so I blogged out and there, and read a lot about what will be the technology everyone will talk about in 2017.
We’re just a few weeks away from Christmas, it’s time to get your say!

What do you think will be the 2017 technology trends?

Smart car? Smart cities? IoT? I know, those replies are super generic, and, in other words, all of them can be the most important tech trends. So, let’s try to be more specific.
Cars are starting to talk to each other so we’re not very far away from plugging more technology into this “more than 100 years old” invention. But still far from a very innovative product. google-home-google-assistant
AI virtual assistants are coming to our houses, whom you can talk with, to ask questions about everything, get details about your daily schedule and interact with your Home. Google Home has been announced a couple of days ago but Amazon Echo has been launched last year and it’s still niche, I guess. (When I say niche, I always benchmark Italy, as my beloved country is very slow and conservative to adopt new technologies)
IoT and Wearables are growing industries but there are still a lot of barriers in terms of privacy and data ownership, let’s see how this is going to develop in the next few months.

So, what’s left? Virtual Reality!
PlayStation VR is here soon, and soon as all the hard-core gamers will start using it massively.
So here what I think:

Virtual Reality will finally be applied to a few more industries and not just gaming, film, sports and entertainment.

Massive adoption means a massive opportunity for a lot of other industries, as the technology is already here and you just need to apply it to your specific product.
So, if your business is in one of the following industry, roll your sleeves up and be ready to catch the opportunity!

  1. Real Estate
    How about having the chance to walk through the house/flat you want to rent or buy instead of spending time going there or meeting builders to approve plans on paper you don’t really understand? Super interesting, especially when you’re spending millions on renovating works.
  2. Travel
    Would you try an immersive experience around the country you’re planning so hard to visit if you would have had the chance? I would, especially if committing to that holiday is not very affordable.
  3. Journalism
    Thanks to ad-blocking, publishers and editors are facing difficult times. How about delivering a very immersive value-driven experience for their paid subscription? Members are not very keen to pay to have access to content, but I bet it depends on the kind of content.
  4. Education
    I already approached that topic when I talked about the first surgery operation filmed on VR and used for education reasons on my Linkedin Pulse (it’s in Italian though). But, would you imagine how many more startups are doing the same, providing tools to teach kids about space, science or history?
  5. Shopping
    How big is the opportunity for e-commerce store and fashion brands? Imagine shoppers using a VR set not only to choose what they’d like to buy but also immerse themselves in the store and attend fashion shows, living immersive experiences around it.

I will be really keen to know what you think, hit me up around and tell me what you think!

Startups

Best No-bullshit Startup Events in London – October 2016

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Morning, all! Do you know that morning when you get up full of energy, especially cause you haven’t slept well, but your mind’s spinning with ideas and things you want to do? This is exactly what happened today. Well, to be honest, I’m a bit worried, as it’s Monday, but ..it’s fine, I’ll take it as it is.

Today I’m glad to introduce you to this first post of a monthly roundup of events where I want to put together the Best Startup Events in London, so conferences, workshops and events related to startups, innovation and tech stuff!
Normally I’m just doing secretly, during lunch breaks as you know, they’re going to be full quite soon.
But since now, to celebrate my summer as a freelancer, I’ll be sharing the list with you as  “happiness is real when shared”.  I met so many amazing people this summer that I really need to celebrate my coming back to London.
Well, as I want to build a new list every month, I’ll do a lot of research to look for the best non-bullshit startup events, but if you know them and you think they should be included, just reach out.
No more excuses of not knowing what to do..now you’ll know!

Hope you like my curated list of no-bullshit Startup events London October 2016

Tue 27th September: Storytelling with data  at Google Campus [free]
To learn what makes engaging insight and how to get from data overload to insight.
I think this could super interesting, as it’s matching a very important topic startups normally are not very much considering. 

Tue 27th September: Let’s solve your startup marketing problems…50 Key Growth Hacks To Scale Your Business at We Work Moorgate [free]
Vincent Dignan is sharing his best tricks to scale your business to success.
If you’re never been to one of his talks, you MUST go. And not only ’cause I co-founded Secret Sauce! 😀

Thurs 6th October: Capital Accelerate and Scale Tech Superstars Launch Event at Huckletree Shoreditch [free]
The launch will be an excuse to run the infamous tech conferences with Huckletree providing two stages and a mentor space to run over 20 talks and panels by experts from Capital Enterprise membership, some leading London start-ups and from the leading companies including Google who will be flying their leading experts on Micro-Services and Tensorflow

Tues 11th October: Our bizarre future of Bitcoins, Blockchains and Smart Contracts at SAF Building, Imperial College London [Non-member £12,Staff £5, Student £3]
Talk by Professor William Knottenbelt, (Director of Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering) which explores the potential for Bitcoins, Blockchains and Smart Contracts to revolutionise the way we live, work and do business.
Don’t know if it will be too theoretical as it’s organised by a University, but I think still very interesting to learn more about bitcoins and blockchains. 

Tues 4th October: Public Speaking for Startups: how to deliver presentations that inspire action at Hackney Community College [£19-29]
Learn how to deliver memorable presentations that inspire action in this workshop led by Anis Qizilbash, founder of Mindful Sales Training.
Pitching is VERY important you need to learn as much as you can about it!

Tues 4th October: Growing An Engaged Community Around Your Startup at Camden Collective  [£11]
2-hour interactive workshop to learn how to build a community from scratch by Culture Agency Collective.
Again startups are normally just focused on growth hacking and acquisitions but they don’t know anything about creating relationships with their customers. And you know retention is key, don’t ya?

Tues 11th October: Startup Sales Bootcamp:7 steps to sell without being salesy at Google Campus [free]
Learn how to approach customers and get them to buy from you without being that typically pushy sales person by Anis Qizilbash, founder of Mindful Sales Training
I’m always very keen to learn more about sales, as it’s very much connected to Marketing but it’s not the same things even if you won’t agree with me. And selling your project is also very important!

Fri 21st October: Start-ups for Africa: tech for development showcase at Google Campus [free]
This is a chance to get to know other people in London who are looking to use their entrepreneurial skills for the good of Africa
I’m very interested in tech for good and I’m wondering whether this event could be helpful understanding how technology can help improving people’s life around the world. I will tell you about it!

Thu 27th October: #TechLawHub Meet Up at Google Campus [free]
Receive practical advice about legal, accounting and marketing issues, with one-to-one Q&A sessions after the presentations.
I think everyone don’t know enough about accounting or legal issues and, if you don’t have a CFO you should definitely attend this workshop!

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So..see you around?
Let me know if you’re coming to one of those events, I’ll be glad to meet you!