Category Archives: Innovation

The MultiCultural Edge: Who Are Tomorrow’s Super Consumers?

Recent Nielsen data confirms a seismic shift that is occurring in the demographics of American consumers. First released in 2015, Nielsen’s report on The Multicultural Edge revealed that multicultural consumers are “the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.” While Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and other multicultural groups currently make up around 40% of the population, they are on track to be a numeric majority by 2044.

This young and growing segment of the consumer population is already driving changing trends in groceries and beverages and is poised to greatly impact markets such as technology, entertainment, and fashion and beauty as well. This segment of consumers offers an exciting opportunity and a challenge for today’s brand-makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. How will we respond?
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What Kickstarter Helped Startups Achieve in 2016

Innovators and startups take many different paths on their journey from idea to execution. As a founder of SparkLabKC, an accelerator program in Kansas City, MO, I was privileged to witness many of the ways in which scrappy startup founders pursued funding. These entrepreneurs, driven by their unique vision for the future, work tirelessly to share that vision with the rest of us.

Of course, they can’t do it without funding. While the current investment climate makes it possible for many young companies to achieve the dream of landing venture capital or other major investments, not all startups are in a position to avail themselves of traditional methods. Where can they turn?
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How Successful Brands Evolve Over Time

A brand is a promise you make to your customers. It’s a hallmark of the consistency, quality, and efficacy of a company’s products or services. A brand is also an aspirational statement – we’ve encouraged brand-makers to ask themselves “Who do our customers want to be?”. A brand at its best both answers and fulfills this question.

But what happens as a brand ages and evolves? As a brand weathers multiple decades of innovation and market variation, change isn’t just an inevitability, it’s a mandate: evolve or risk being left behind. Here’s a look at three brands that have transitioned successfully over multiple decades of existence, with an eye towards what today’s brand-makers can learn from their example.
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Inside The Innovative Mind: Virtual & Augmented Reality

2016 has been a banner year for consumer Virtual Reality technology. The Oculus Rift (arguably the first successful VR platform) was released earlier this year and the well-reviewed Oculus Touch controller arrived this month just in time for the holiday season. Microsoft, Playstation, Google, and other big names have also released VR products. While VR technology has largely captured the public imagination in the context of gaming, there are many innovative possibilities for its use and development in the near future.

What can innovative minds learn from the long history of efforts to develop effective virtual reality technology, and what new possibilities does it create?
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Innovation Includes a Challenge to Do Good

I write often about the seeds of innovation – where ideas come from and how those ideas are developed into revolutionary products and services. I am drawn to these examinations because I believe that true innovation has a measurable impact. It solves an existing problem in the marketplace or opens up new possibilities for growth and success.

However, innovation doesn’t always mean creating new technology from the ground up. Often, innovative minds match existing technology with real-world problems to create an unexpected outcome and an impact that positively affects real people.

In this holiday season, I want to explore how technology can meet needs that allow us to flourish.
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Inside the Innovative Mind: Elon Musk & SpaceX

Two years ago, Elon Musk’s SpaceX received a $2.6 billion contract from NASA to develop commercial spaceflight and manned launch capabilities. After the 2011 conclusion of its Shuttle program, NASA looked to SpaceX and Boeing, two private companies, to return manned launches to American soil. This public-private partnership signaled the beginning of an exciting new time in space innovation and exploration.

After several years of decline, it seems that private companies like SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins are now successfully reinvigorating the American space industry. As an aerospace enthusiast and industry consultant, these developments are tremendously exciting. As an entrepreneur and startup coach, they prompt me to consider the lessons that innovators can learn and apply from an examination of SpaceX’s success.
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Artificial Intelligence for the Rest of Us: Machine Learning

A few weeks ago I received an email that really excited me. I’ve worked on a lot of cutting edge technologies as a marketing and development strategist and advisor to many startup companies, but this particular message felt like a bold glimpse into the future. It was a compelling look at how small businesses can leverage new technology to compete and succeed at a higher level.

The message came from a company called Clarifai, which is developing machine learning APIs with the belief that “the same AI technology that gives big tech companies a competitive edge should be available to developers or businesses of any size or budget.” Their image and video recognition API leads the industry, with the ability to quickly and efficiently process and identify mass quantities of images. With the addition of Custom Training, which allows companies to “teach” AI to understand concepts relevant to their business, Clarifai is ushering in a future in which Artificial Intelligence can be deployed to assist businesses of all sizes.
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