Best No-bullshit Startup Events in London – November 2016

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 you can’t miss this month in London!

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-november2016

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

london-startup-talks-series-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

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

women-startups-london-san-francisco-growing-tech-education
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.

women-using-computer-bots-technology-pic-by-fabian-irsara
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

The technology trends everyone will talk about in 2017

2017-disruptive-tech-trendsalessiacamera

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.
What do you think will be the technology trends of 2017? We’re just a few weeks away from Christmas, it’s time to get your say!

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!

Best No-bullshit Startup Events in London – October 2016

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 non-bullshit Startup events for startuppers 🙂

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!

best-no-bullshit-startups-events-octobers-edition-october2016

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

 

Giving back to the community: mentoring startups at H-Farm

When 4 years I decided to move to London I wouldn’t have expected that things were changing so fast in Italy and of course I’m very happy to see how things are different now.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but I am positive. That’s why this summer I decided to spend some time working with the community where my passion for digital was born, having had the opportunity to speak at Web Marketing Festival in Rimini, one of the biggest marketing festival in Italy and mentoring startups part of the acceleration program at H-Farm.

H-Farm is an amazing project, born in 2005 nearby Venice, to help entrepreneurs launching new initiatives. If you think that nobody at that time, in Italy, was talking about startups or building an environment where digital and technology were the king and the queen, now we can say it was an very thought-out vision. It’s an area where you meet smart and motivated people, where you can “smell” innovation and where everyone is working on personal projects aiming to change the reality we live in, and you know, innovation is contagious.

In two days I’ve talked more than ten hours about tech, projects, marketing and strategy, ending up being exhausted but happy. I arrived in the morning at the railway station in Mestre, picked up by a private driver taking me to the Campus. Jessica was waiting for me and helped me arranging the room for the workshop I wanted to give about customer acquisition strategies. After that I started immediately with 9 one-to-one meetings with the 9 startups involved in the Wellness and Fashion & Retail accelerator. Talking with people, believing in what they were doing was awesome and I felt privileged to have this chance.
I also learned that opportunities are not coming alone, you need to create them, and  that being surrounded by amazing people makes easier overpassing difficulties.
Giving back to the community is just an amazing idea I recommend to everyone doing it once in life as you’re really feeling well helping others on something you’ve already faced. And for once, money is not involved, at all.   

HFarm-accelerator-startup-italy-serra-dinner-alessiacamera-mentor
But bear with me, I’d like to introduce you to all of them!

I met with Bernard, from Loyaly, building a personal assistant to help improving relationships customers and brands in the beauty industry, facing the challenge of building the technology and how to position themselves on the marketing reaching big and established brands. I met with Marcus from Fitsapp, an app to make easier for people looking for trainings to get in touch with personal trainers with a tailored program or a one-to-one premium plan, launching soon in Northern Europe. Indigo Recommendations is creating a mobile tool to help retailers maximising the experience they have while in the shop, I had an awesome chat with Gianluca, helping to understand how reach out to their clients. Xensify wants to help small retailers with information and  tools to optimise customers’ inshore experience, I met with Sergio and Giacomo helping them with the marketing strategy. Rob with Roundstay aims to make easier organising and booking trips for people passionate about fitness, we had a good chat about the concept and the overall idea. Fitssi is a social-training app mainly for women, helping them to gather together and share the cost of a personal trainer in a more fun experience: Danny and I talked mainly about branding and business strategy. InteriorBE is a platform to help users in needs of renovating their spaces with a community of interior designers, and I really enjoyed talking with Federica about their marketing and social media strategy. I met with Cristiano from Train Me creating a platform for gyms to coordinate and better support personal trainers from the gym point of view, with whom I talked about marketing and acquisition strategies. And the last one (but just in order of meetings :D) was Adzuki Mobile, a recommendation/referral platform based on images where with Claus and Veronica we talked a lot about the concept and their business strategy.
What else? If I were you I would follow all of them, they’re doing a great job and I wish them good luck for their demo night in October, I hope I can make it.

But H-Farm is not just an accelerator, in 10 days is launching H-Campus, an educational program based on technology and digital for children and youngers from 3 until 26 years old to prepare the new generations to the challenges of the new century. And it will be awesome, because for once, going to school, especially in Italy, will not just mean passively listening to a teacher but work in groups, solve real problems, interact with each other and technology. ‘Cause in this 21st century we can’t just go to school and university, graduated and wait for a job, we need to invent it, never stop learning and be ready to change our path if there’s not what we’re looking for.
And if you’re not much convinced, here a quote from my most favourite author. 

work-job-build-your-future-quote-alessiacamera

ps: many thanks to Luca, Laura & Jessica for having made this happen. 

pss:If you’re a startup and you have an awesome idea for a IoT project you should check the IOT-Fintech acceleration program at H-Farm. You have time until the 3rd of October to apply!

 

Digital-only banks, currency exchange made easy: the Fintech revolution

If you like travelling like me, you know that it’s painful being abroad and using your card with a lot of non-sense commissions to pay when you want to use your bank card. And you have to pay those bank commissions, simply because you’re using your card abroad, in shops or because you need to withdraw local currency.
Is it fair?

You’re giving your money to banks for free, without earning any interest (you’re lucky if you’ve not to pay to get some additional services). And, if you need that money while you’re on holiday abroad, you have to pay for it. Maybe 30-40 years ago not everyone was interested in using the card abroad, as only a few of us could go abroad on holiday, but now it’s what everyone is doing. Meaning that those banks are earning a lot of money just because of new people’s behaviours and none is really thinking different, segmenting the audience and understanding their needs.
That’s how a big bunch of startups is offering new services in an industry commonly known as Fintech, disrupting the traditional way banks are operating and getting a lot of interest and funds: in the UK more than $5.5 billion (£3.8bn) of investments were made in the fintech industry between July 2015 and January 2016.

In the brand new world of fintech startups working to satisfy specific needs, providing effective and efficient services for a niche of people a few of them are very very interesting. And I’m glad to share the ones I think are implementing a very good service.
I’ve already talked about Transferwise, allowing people to transfer money between different countries paying just a little fee compared to what you pay to banks (I talked about it in my last year’s startup roundup). The technology is based on a peer-to-peer system, so if someone wants to convert their pounds to euros, TransferWise’s technology finds someone who wants to transfer money in the opposite direction (euros into pounds)

A brand new part of fintech startups is represented by digital-only banks, which are going to start operating this year, such as Mondo, Tandem, Starling and Atom. But what does digital-only banks mean?
If high street banks have been using digital technologies to help transform various areas of their business, those new banks have decided to go all digital instead, in order to offer a fully integrated mobile experience in which customers use their smartphones or tablets to do everything from opening a new account and making payments to resolving credit-card billing disputes, all without ever setting foot in a physical branch. Without losing time, having to fill out lots of papers or having to pay hidden fees.
Do you think it’s just a cool idea and high street banks will never disappear? Well, according to this McKinsey report, “in the United Kingdom and Western Europe, there is a potential for 40% or more of new deposits to come from digital sales by 2018
And in terms of digital evolution, we’re ready, as you can see from the graph here below.
And you should read this report by the Deutsche Bank, if you’re keen to understand whether we’re ready or not.

The digital revolution in the financial sector - fintech startups

But let’s come back to startups providing specific services in a cheaper and more efficient way.
I personally love Revolut allowing you to use your money abroad without incurring in fees.
I love travelling and I don’t really like paying fees just because I’m using my card to withdraw money abroad or because I’m using it to pay in shops. Revolut, working like a digital wallet, allows you to transfer money from your account to your Revolut account through the app and then use it thanks to a physical MasterCard. Once abroad, you can use the card to make your purchases or withdraw money without incurring in any fees. Isn’t it amazing?
The next one I want to try is Nutmeg an online wealth manager helping you to invest money without having to go to a physical bank. When you register you tell the platform how much you want to invest and the risk you want to take before being presented with a portfolio, chosen by the Nutmeg team. No algorithm. Same concept as the Italian MoneyFarm, I should definitely try both.

Then, there are fintech startups helping SMEs to get money with less hassle, faster and cheaper, but they’re a lot. Better if for today I stop there.
Enjoy your August peeeeps!

Web Marketing Festival 2016 in Italy: what did I learn being a speaker?

After 3.5 years away from Italy, it’s always nice to be back, attending events and meeting people not only working in online marketing. Even if in the past I’ve worked with Italian companies, in the last three years I mainly focused on international projects, that’s why I thought it was time to give it back to the community my passion was born.

My giving-back time has started with a speech at the Web Marketing Festival where I talked about Growth Hacking, having the chance to meet with a lot of people working and interested in marketing.

I was nervous, it was ages I wasn’t having a speech in Italian and wasn’t really sure how people will react. And the organisation of the festival asked me to make my presentation a bit more generic just one week before as it was too specific on tools and tactics. That’s how I am, I thought. But, I agreed to change it.
I tried to enter the room before the first speech. Failed. The room was full.
So, I ended up just waiting for my turn and grabbing some words from the previous speaker.
Green light, it’s my turn. The room was packed, I had a look at my presentation, it was working.
There wasn’t a wifi mic, I had just to stand in front of it on the stage, in front of a computer covering half of my face, I couldn’t move. Panic. The moderator wasn’t doing anything to help.
What should I do? You-just-need-to-breath-and-talk.

learning-motivational-quotesAnd that’s what I did. I didn’t care about the fact people couldn’t really see me. Or the fact that I added too many English words. I just pushed the accelerator and go. I know, sometimes I turned too hard or I asked a silly question and I should have nourished the conversation. You always learn. But if you’re not stepping ahead from your confort zone, you’ll never understand how much you need to steer.
It was fun, got an amazing turnout, a lot of great questions and people met.
But now, it’s time to think. It’s important looking back and understand what I did learn attending the Web Marketing Festival. What can I do to improve myself?

  • Hook the audience & tell your story. I know it’s hard. In my case, extremely hard, as I was feeling completely disconnected with that audience, I didn’t now what they were interested in. But I should have told my personal story, full of memories and hopes.
  • Ask as many questions as you can
    You need to gather information about your audience before starting your speech, so you’re sure you understand their expectations. If you can’t just ask them a lot of information before, for example questions or fun facts. Coming from a country were people don’t really want to know about your story, especially when you talk to small and super specific events, I haven’t thought it was that important. But now, I know it. Especially when you’re in a big festival.
  • Share as many examples as you can
    Practical approaches always win, so better starting with one or two business cases, and then wrapping up to one-two definitions. In my case was a bit too difficult as there aren’t many examples of Growth Hacking strategies apart from social media or online platforms, but probably I’ll add more examples in my next talk. 

    When you learn you always win, you just need to be patient and keep going!

Acquisition strategies for startups: 5 tips you should follow

Well, I have to say that every time I see someone on LinkedIn positioning himself as a Growth Hacker, I have a smile on my face. Talking lately with a lot of entrepreneurs, in fact, it seems that hiring a Growth Hacker is the key element if you’re working to establish a successful and sustainable startup.
I imagine what people may think: “Amazing, this person will solve all of my problems, driving tons of users, with the cheapest CPC ever, my project will be very successful and I’ll become famous“.
Ok, maybe the last bit is too far, especially if you’re an early stage entrepreneur.
But, I bet there are a lot of people with the same feeling.
engine-of-growth-startups-growth-hackerWe’re used to reading startups stories with incredible growth strategies, creative ideas, getting fantastic results in a relatively short amount of time. But, are those stories the whole picture?
I’ve been involved in a few amazing projects, where, even if the acquisition campaigns and the engine of growth start working and you’re getting results, sometimes you need to be careful. It can stop very quickly and your growth can be unsustainable.

So, before even planning your user acquisition strategy, here a few steps to consider, plan and implement:

1)Include a referral or in-product growth strategies
Even if we’re living the digital revolution, the majority of products are still been sold thanks to the word of mouth. Of course, there are different ways to encourage people to share information with their friends or family but, first of all, they have to love your product and they have to think it will improve other people’s life. Secondly, if you really want to drive growth, you need to set a quantifiable reward: people will struggle to understand how much is a 20% discount on your product if you haven’t released it yet. Meaning: you won’t get very good results in terms of acquisition.
If your product SUCKS, please, please, please improve it before spending a shit amount on paid, PR or earned media. 

extrinsic-intrinsic-motivation-startup-growth-strategies@alessiacameraAnother point I think it’s very important is planning an in-product growth strategy. Is there a way you can add a feature to your product to push your users using it as much as possible? Try to understand the intrinsic motivation users will have while using your product and try to design it in order to create the habit, without them realizing it. At the end, it’s what Zuckerberg has done and still doing with his product.
[If you want to learn more, you should read Hooked by Nir Eyal, I think it’s brilliant!]

2)Is there a way your product can advertise itself?
Do you remember why Steve Jobs decided to put the Apple logo visible to other people on laptops and mobile phones? It’s a way products can advertise themselves, leveraging visibility and curiosity. Simply by using a product, a customer advertises your product to people around them.
Pretty straight forward isn’t it? Start working on it, you’ll realise it’s more complicated than what you think.

3)Use the ACCORD framework to analyze your product and your potential market.  But, be honest.

accord-model-competitive-advantage-startup-growth-strategy@alessiacameraSo, the first thing you should do as the entrepreneur is list as many things as you possibly can that are the relevant advantages of this product or service that you’re bringing to market over the status quo. The greater your relative advantage is, the greater the potential to realise demand.
I don’t think  I’ll have to explain the Compatibility and Complexity. I also already explained Observability in the previous paragraph. The Risk point: can I adopt your product or service without functional risk, without being socially embarrassed and without a financial risk? And the last one: can the product be consumed or used in a relatively low-cost or small unit?

If in the analysis you thick all the 7 boxes, you have an idea on how quick your demand will spread. But be honest, we all know your product is amazing, but you have to sell it, not just convince people around.

4) Have a budget
With tons of new products and services being released every day you simply can’t bootstrap.
Product Hunt, Techcrunch are still tools very important to raise awareness, but they’re not enough anymore. You need to build a proper plan, experimenting until you find the right channel for your audience.

Customer acquisition is too much important for a lot of people in the company to give it a try, you need to build a plan, try all the channels, find the right one and repeat it. And, if part of this plan can be executed without a proper budget when you maximize all your efforts towards your best channel, you’ll need a bit of money to get results and scale it.

5) Focus on the niche and then expand it
Talking with entrepreneurs, too many times I hear: “I want to expand across Europe” even before having launched the product or service in the UK. What’s the difference between dreams and plans?
I also want to become rich, but unless I have a proper plan and feedback from my customers telling me I’m on the right way, well, this is not a SMART goal.
This is a great story for a PR consultant, but when you’re creating a customer acquisition strategy, the goals you should define or have in mind should be numbers, and, especially at the beginning you should focus on one market, understand your customers’ needs, deliver the product and THEN expand it.

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That’s it, for the moment.
I’ll be talking about Growth Strategies at the Web Marketing Festival in Italy, on the 8th of July.
If you want to share a “piadina” & some web marketing thoughts, let me know!

Artificial intelligence: London is the most important hub in the world

Imagine if you could predict people’s behaviour. Even if just for simple tasks like texting (and adding emojis, a brand new only-beta feature) to your chat. Well, now come back to reality as Swiftkey is already doing it. SwiftKey learns from previous SMS messages and output predictions based on currently input text and what it has learned giving you word suggestions following your writing style.
Swiftkey has been funded in 2008 and bought by Microsoft earlier this year. It’s not the first British AI startup bought by a US Tech giant: Google bought Deepmind a couple of years ago, not only with the need of putting his hands on Deepmind’s technology but also to have access to an incredible pool of talents.

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Ed Rex from Jukedeck @ London.AI Meetup

If you’re following the startup scene in London, you know that good developers are on the hunt. If your project is around AI, you know that finding good people with that expertise is even more difficult. That’s why there are meetups like London.AI, aiming to create a network of investors, companies, developers, academics. And that’s where I’ve been yesterday evening, attending a panel around creativity and AI.
The panel was super interesting, telling the experience of the co-founder of Prediction.io, a open source machine learning tool aiming to help developers building more intelligent products, such as recommendation or prediction engines (without having to reinvent the wheel) now acquired by Salesforce. If was great hearing from Jonathan from Union Square, a VC investing in creative AI projects (and a lot of other stuff) especially regarding the fact that ideas and networks are still important. And the last one, by Ed Rex, founder of Jukedeck was brilliant (and scary): AI is not just learning to predict our search and our behaviour but is also learning to be creative, using the same process we have in mind when we develop new ideas and produce a final result. Isn’t it scary? Ed is very much convinced about the positive effect this is leading to: much more people open to new stuff and more personalised products. Will be true? I’m sure we’ll continue the conversation.

therapist-computer-robot-worried-about-AISuper fascinating projects, but only a few of all the AI projects in London. And it’s funny, ’cause London (and not the Silicon Valley this time) is becoming the main global hub, not only for London’s startup ecosystem but also thanks to Imperial and UCL offering a trove of talent and ideas.
According to the Guardian this is a growing network of academic excellence which has already attracted some of the world’s brightest minds, all keen to be part of an environment reminiscent of San Francisco’s web startup hub. – This is a scene where everyone knows each other. You can’t help being caught up in the excitement of it,- says Shanahan professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial.

Which are the other AI projects we should give a closer look at in 2016? Here what I liked the most.

  • Magic Pony technology: using AI to expand and create pictures, discovering the finest details and larger patterns. If you don’t see where the application can be, imagine a game or CG movie where textures like that can be generated dynamically, different for every playthrough or character. Chances are that humans would still have to ground-truth these images to fine-tune the algorithms, but it’s a powerful way to implement a feature artists and engineers have been pursuing with varying success for years.
  • Babylon:  an artificially intelligent ‘doctor’ that aims to prevent illnesses before they occur. To do this, the program tracks your daily habits, diagnosis illness based on symptoms and integrating data about heart rate, diet and medical records.
    Babylon is currently in a trial partnership with the National Health Service to test feasibility in making its service available to all UK citizens.
  • Onfido: helping companies to carry out remote background checks using artificial intelligence and machine learning to build the sophistication of its fraud detection over time
  • Seldon: predicts the future actions of consumers of media and e-commerce services across web, mobile and tablet combining behavioural, social, contextual, and first/third party data to increase the relevance of content and product recommendations and ultimately boost engagement and conversion.
  • Rainbird: an artificial intelligence platform that uses existing human and business knowledge to automate knowledge work and deliver smart systems that can transform organisations. The technology is also capable of learning through interaction and from every decision that is made, getting smarter over time with the aim of improving large scale decision-making processes.
  • Telectic: interpreting the Web’s content at scale by creating an automated semantic layer to the Web. The initial objective is to map and discover insights about the professional world by reorganising the Web’s information about people, networks and organisations.

Anything else you would add? Let’s chat