The Rise of Robotics & Automation in the Supply Chain

One of the biggest challenges facing the logistics industry today is labor availability. It’s not easy for companies around the world to find enough high-quality employees to move goods from suppliers to customers.

Two competing factors are making this especially difficult: The first is an increasing need for more logistics workers and this is being driven by the e-commerce revolution and its need for more parcel shipments; the second is a decline in the size of the available workforce. Up until now, robotics technology has not made a large impact in the world of logistics.

Join us on January 19th at 8:00 am and learn about how this is changing as advanced robots enter our warehouses, sorting centers, and even help with final-mile delivery. Logistics workers will benefit from collaborating with robots, while customers will see faster service and higher quality.

Venture 40+: Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Are you, too old to hire…too young to retire, unemployed, under employed or exploring what to do in your next chapter?  Come out and join us for a free seminar Thursday evening titled, Venture 40+: Aspiring Entrepreneurs. Mike Kennedy, positive aging coach and Huffington Post blogger, will be discussing why he believes that entrepreneurial start-ups are the best option for most who find themselves in these circumstances.

 

  • There is no ageism when you are the boss
  • Take back control of your life and career
  • Turn the table on an underfunded retirement

 

Please register in advance as seating is limited.

Why employees stay


Silicon Halton recently held one of their regular monthly meetups at Milton Education Village Education Centre. The evening’s theme was What Large Tech Companies Look For In Candidates Today – Panel Q&A. Ahead of this meetup, Silicon Halton published a 5-question survey. One question was:

Select the top two reasons why you remain with your current employer

The primary reason employees remain with their current employer is due to the type of work they do.

We surveyed 50 people (approx.) and asked them to select the top two reasons why they remain with their current employer. We learned that they find significant personal value in the type of work they do at the company. In far second place is the monetary benefits, followed closed by their Manager; we didn’t expect these last two reasons to trail the Type of Work by a magnitude of order.

In the tech sector, there is a lot of pressure and anxiety on employers to provide ever-increasing retention perks: gym memberships, foosball tables, free meals, Espresso Mondays or remote-working. Clearly however, the driving retention factor is ensuring your staff are doing fulfilling work, work they want to do.

The challenge with a “the type of work” retention strategy is it’s very individualized and doesn’t scale. It requires excellent people managers. Maybe Google has it right with their practice to deliberately take power and authority over employees away from managers. In the book Work Rules, written by the then VP HR, the common attributes by high scoring managers at Google are:

    1. Be a good coach
    2. Empower the Team and do not micromanage
    3. Express interest/concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
    4. Be very productive / results oriented
    5. Be a good communicator – listen and share information
    6. Help the team with career development
    7. Have a clear vision / strategy for the team
    8. Have important technical skills that help advise the team (least important, but  essential)

 

About Silicon Halton: The grassroots high tech community in Halton Region focused on Technology, Community, and Growth. They help tech professionals grow professionally, they help Tech companies grow their businesses. They do this via great meetups, pitch and demo nights, engaged Peer2Peer groups, workshops and a vibrant LinkedIn community. One example is the Sr. Human Resources Roundtable, helping senior HR Managers from large local tech companies make better quality decisions, faster.

 

About the Author: Rick Stomphorst is the President of SearchVelocity. SearchVelocity helps tech companies identify and hire A-players. SearchVelocity’s specialty is complex assignments, roles requiring multiple technologies, skills and/or business vertical knowledge. Rick brings 25+ years of broad experience working at software companies and IT professional consulting firms, more than half of these years as hiring management of technical staff. We can help you find the right people. Rick is also a proud co-founder of Silicon Halton.

 

Don’t Knock Yourself Out Over a Business Plan

As entrepreneurs, you are constantly expected to write business plans. However, there are many successful entrepreneurs who never got around to writing one. Why? Because they were too busy actually building and running the business, or saw it as a hurdle more than something that could strengthen the company, or they were able to engage their banks or investors in other ways.  Starting a company requires action.

 “The business plan simply does not provide a realistic picture of whether the proposed business will be successful.”

There is an alternative approach. For every heading in a conventional business plan, it is possible to take action instead that will take the business further more effectively. See the Full Article for a chart that illustrates this point.

Starting a business is like playing the violin. We cannot learn through reading and writing. We have to play and through continuous practice and trial and error become better and ultimately proficient.

The alternative to the business plan is to start a business, rather than write about it. The key is about focusing on what will actually make a difference to the business – and thereby also to banks and investors. This could include a good sales presentation, a website, media coverage, a good overview of finances, or commissioned client sales and a good team of owners and employees in the company. When these elements are in place, it is completely unnecessary to document what your ideas were.  The work is already done.

Entrepreneurs have always started businesses without a business plan. However, they have never done so without thinking and acting. What characterizes successful entrepreneurs is that they do not just have a good idea and a good plan. They get things done.

This blog condenses some the information and business advice found in an article on “Goodbye, Business Plan! – Starting a company requires action”.  It is taken with permission from a Series of Articles published by GrowthWheel with the goal of providing inspiration and ideas that start-up and growth companies can use.  The MEV Innovation Centre uses GrowthWheel as a visual tool to help companies develop, design and improve their businesses taking a 360 degree perspective.  It works as an alternative to the conventional business plan by helping start-ups and growth companies make decisions and take action.

The MEV Innovation Centre is a certified GrowthWheel business advisor. If you would like a full copy of the article and related worksheets, please send us an email at MEVInnovation@milton.ca. For more information on GrowthWheel or to schedule time with one of our business advisors, again send us an email

 

Don’t Beg – Take Control Of The Relationship With Your Bank

Let’s start with the perspective that the bank needs you as much as you need the bank.

“Banks live by lending money and they are constantly in competition with other banks to win new customers.”

A good place to start with respect to establishing a solid and long-lasting relationship is to understand how your bank manager thinks, feels and acts.  See the Full Article  The chart below shows examples of the questions a banker asks themselves regarding potential customers i.e. you the entrepreneur. These include such questions as: Does this investment make sense? How much capital do they really need? Can we trust the entrepreneur?

Click on the Chart to Enlarge

Click on the Chart to Enlarge

Appreciating the needs or your “partner” will help you to better position yourself and the “ask” of the bank.   Here are a few things that you can do to strengthen that position.

Always think and talk about investment and not expenditure.  A focus on investing will show that your are already expecting to make a return and build the business Also be prepared to discuss future investments so they will not come as a surprise to the bank and as a good way to demonstrate the entrepreneurial vision of the company.

Do a risk analysis of yourself which both identifies the risks that exist in the company, how likely they are to occur and countermeasures in the event that they occur.  By describing ways to handle the risk areas, you will demonstrate that you have a realistic understanding of the company.

Produce a single binder – a bank binder – with all of the information collected and organized that would be of interest to a bank.  This can both provide the bank with a better basis for decision making, greater security and a better impression of the company.  See the full article for a suggest list of binder content.

The bank needs after care.  Just like other important relationships, if your business is to evolve there may soon come a day when we will need an even larger commitment from the bank. Consequently, one must constantly work to increase the bank’s trust in the business and add funds to the “emotional bank account.”

Remember bankers benefit from making loans and debt can be a good thing for a company, when you show that it is created by good investments which will eventually yield a positive return.

This blog condenses some the information and business advice found in an article on “Control your Bank! – How to get the credit you want”.  It is taken with permission from a Series of Articles published by GrowthWheel with the goal of providing inspiration and ideas that start-up and growth companies can use.  The MEV Innovation Centre uses GrowthWheel as a visual tool to help companies develop, design and improve their businesses taking a 360 degree perspective.  It works as an alternative to the conventional business plan by helping start-ups and growth companies make decisions and take action.

The MEV Innovation Centre is a certified GrowthWheel business advisor. If you would like a full copy of the article and related worksheets, please send us an email at MEVInnovation@milton.ca. For more information on GrowthWheel or to schedule time with one of our business advisors, again send us an email

 

 

Not All Customers Are Created Equal – Build a Valuable Customer Portfolio

Having reached the point where you have regular customers is great, however it can also be risky. Being in a position where the customers have chosen us, rather than the other way around, may create a situation where we have the “wrong” customers. Wrong in the sense that they are not as attractive and profitable as other potential customers. So how do we find out who are the right customers for our particular business? See the Full Article

One way of identifying potential new customer groups, whether you already have a lot of customers or not, is to make a systematic segmentation of potential customers in your market.

“Segmentation can almost become a treasure hunt for new, potential customers who you can service in new, creative ways.”

There are many advantages to segmenting the market into similar categories, and then using these as the basis for the business’ sales and marketing efforts. The process allows you to:

• Discover new customers we might never have considered before
• Highlight previously unexplored areas of the market
• Prioritize the absolutely best customers for the business
• Treat customers differently and adjust our products and marketing

There is a wide array of criteria that we can use to divide our market into different customer segments. This is illustrated in the “A World of Customers” chart below that can be used to map the segmentation based on a customer’s demographic, geography, buying behavior and/or psychology.

Click on the Chart to Enlarge

Click on the Chart to Enlarge

Choosing the right customer segments is one of the central decisions, in designing or redesigning a business, not least, when a business is growing. It is a good idea to take a critical look at the customer database from time to time, to see which customer segments dominate and which ones are missing. For a lot of startup businesses, there are often more and other customers than you might think.

This blog condenses some the information and business advice found in an article on “The Best Customers – How to Build a Valuable Customer Portfolio”. It is taken with permission from a Series of Articles published by GrowthWheel with the goal of providing inspiration and ideas that start-up and growth companies can use. The MEV Innovation Centre uses GrowthWheel as a visual tool to help companies develop, design and improve their businesses taking a 360 degree perspective. It works as an alternative to the conventional business plan by helping start-ups and growth companies make decisions and take action.

The MEV Innovation Centre is a certified GrowthWheel business advisor. If you would like a full copy of the article and related worksheets, please send us an email at MEVInnovation@milton.ca. For more information on GrowthWheel or to schedule time with one of our business advisors, again send us an email

Stand Out from the Competition – Dive into the Blue Ocean

The_Position_Map_–_Y5.2_Page_1As an entrepreneur it is easy to find yourself immersed in a “red ocean” full of sharks – competitors and cutthroat competition. This can mean spending a lot of time on sales without getting the orders, or having your prices squeezed. How can we make ourselves stand out from our competitors?  See the Full ArticleThe_Position_Map_–_Y5.2_Page_1

“There is an alternative to constantly trying to be better and cheaper than the competitors: Being Different.”

Often you went into business because you wanted to do something that was not done in quite the same way before. Perhaps you hoped to develop a product or a service that has not been seen before, or that had distinct values or features. In reality, very few ideas and products are actually unique. More often, they solve the same problems or fulfill the same needs as others, but in a slightly different way or with a twist.

The good news is that an idea does not have to be unique or completely new to be a good business idea. Initially, it may be enough to just be better than the competition at what it does. So how do you know what’s your competitive advantage?

After acquiring some knowledge about the market and the customers, take time to make a systematic comparison of your own company and the competitors. A compelling way to make this comparison is to use a Position Map where you chart the various characteristics of your product and your company and make the comparison.

Position Map

Click Graph to Enlarge

The sample chart shows five examples of areas where you might do better or worse than the competitors. These five areas are:

  • Product design
  • Buyer’s experience
  • Customer relations
  • Brand value
  • Price level.

In all these areas you can give yourself and your competitors a score representing where you stand in the market and the lines between the dots will provide an image of your market position.

While beating the competition is desirable, there is a certain danger to this whole way of thinking. It takes a lot of resources to be the best or cheapest at all times. There is, however, an alternative – Become different and move to a spot without competition: The Blue Ocean.

To be in the blue ocean means that you are trying to make your competitors irrelevant. In relation to the Position Map, you might say that you are adding new factors to compete for. The trick is to identify these new competitive factors. There are several ways to identify them. One way is to consider whether you can:

  • Create a whole new market by going beyond the traditional limits of your industry
  • Become part of several industries at the same time
  • Look for customer groups that others have overlooked
  • Find new and unprecedented ways of compiling products

This approach may allow you to design your products and your company in a way that positions you outside the common notions of how a company acts in the industry.

This blog condenses some the information and business advice found in an article on “Startup in the Blue Ocean – Stand Out from the Competition”. It is taken with permission from a Series of Articles published by GrowthWheel with the goal of providing inspiration and ideas that start-up and growth companies can use.  The MEV Innovation Centre uses GrowthWheel as a visual tool to help companies develop, design and improve their businesses taking a 360 degree perspective.  It works an alternative to the conventional business plan by helping start-ups and growth companies make decisions and take action.

The MEV Innovation Centre is a certified GrowthWheel business advisor. If you would like a full copy of the article and related worksheets, please send us an email at MEVInnovation@milton.ca. For more information on GrowthWheel or to schedule time with one of our business advisors, again send us an email.

The_Position_Map_–_Y5.2_Page_1

Telemedicine and Digital Health Monitoring Is Ready to Address the Global Health Challenge

At the MEV Innovation Centre’s April 1st Lunch and Learn seminar, Dr. Shariq Khoja of Tech4Life Enterprises provided some insights on the health challenges faced by developing counties and how telemedicine and digital monitoring is being used to address a number of services gaps. View Tech4Life’s full presentation.

Dr. Khoja is Tech4Life Enterprises founder and CEO. Beginning with an overview of the huge gaps in the availability of trained health providers in less developed countries and the consequences of not treating preventable health problems, he then focused on opportunities for deploying telemedicine. The presentation noted that:

• Mobile technology chances the face of access to health information
• 75% of the world has easier access to a mobile phone than to electricity or clean water
• There is a need/opportunity to empower frontline health workers and patients
• Telemedicine and Point-of-Care diagnostic solutions are proving to help deliver higher quality care to 2.5 billion people in the developing world
• Tech4Life Enterprises has developed a number of innovative solutions that are having a high impact on customers in twenty countries to-date

The seminar also covered how the technology can be used drive better health care management and efficiencies by connecting remote and hard to access communities with health care professionals in more urban centers.

Tech4lifeEnterprises.com is one of the MEV Innovation Centre’s latest companies in residence. The company consists of highly innovative experts in public health, telemedicine, software development, and health equipment; working closely with health providers and the community to ensure their empowerment. The team designs, manufactures and markets next-generation integrated mobile telemedicine and point-of- care solutions. One of Tech4Life’s products is eSteth, a digital stethoscope that is a forerunner due to its innovation, quality and affordability. eSteth is the first ever Plug ‘n’ Play digital stethoscope in the world which can capture, amplify and transmit sounds in real-time (live), using most devices and communication platforms.

Don’t miss the next MEV Innovation Centre Lunch and Learn!

Every month the Innovation Centre hosts an informal, and free, presentation on a topic of interest to the residents, members and friends of the Centre and the Milton business community. It is being held at the same time as the monthly Silicon Halton Day, where Silicon Halton members come to cowork as our guests for the day. It’s an open-drop in session, and all Milton entrepreneurs are welcome to attend. You bring your lunch, we’ll bring dessert.

Check out our Events Calendar for more upcoming events.

Social Media Trends You Need to Know

At the MEV Innovation Centre’s March 4th Lunch and Learn seminar, Michelle Kostya of Hootsuite provided some insights on a number of the key social media trends that will affect how companies do business in 2016 and beyond.  Michelle is Hootsuite’s Global Director, Enterprise Training and Strategy.

Beginning with an overview of the current social media landscape and a profile of the demographics of who is using what, she then focused on five trends.

  • Social media is the “new front door” companies are using to reach customers where they are
  • The convergence of features/apps across a number of channels
  • The use of social media for workplace communications in here now
  • Video continues to grow its share of attention on social media
  • Brands and consumers are shifting their marketing spend toward influencers

View Hootsuite’s full presentation.

Even more information can be found in Hootsuite’s Resource Library or on their blog.

Don’t miss the next MEV Innovation Centre Lunch and Learn!

Every month the Innovation Centre hosts an informal, and free, presentation on a topic of interest to the residents, members and friends of the Centre and the Milton business community. It is being held at the same time as the monthly Silicon Halton Day, where Silicon Halton members come to cowork as our guests for the day. It’s an open-drop in session, and all Milton entrepreneurs are welcome to attend. You bring your lunch, we’ll bring dessert.

Check out our Events Calendar for more upcoming events.