The Future of Live Streaming

By: Chidu Subbiah
Untitled designLive Streaming has become a buzzword of late, but the history can be traced back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s when computing power became cheaper and powerful. The bandwidth of networks grew dramatically in this timeframe which increased the number of people and computers with access to those networks, creating the Internet as we know it today. Early live streaming efforts were mostly single-event broadcasts and were more focused around audio streaming. Continue reading “The Future of Live Streaming”

4 Online Tools for Digital Marketers

By: Kathryn Todd

In a world where digital marketing is so prominent, it’s hard to decide which tools will produce the best results for your product & customer. Digital presence is now necessary for companies, and it is a huge part of the overall brand experience. It’s easy to let digital and social take over your schedule, so here are some helpful tools to streamline some of your digital marketing efforts.
Managing Multiple Social Communities
With the presence of so many social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and more, it is hard to manage all of the 512px-owly-grad-hsuposts and presences. The CMO Council states that 46% of global users go to social media to help make purchase decisions, and 71% of customers purchase from brands they are following on social media. These statistics show the huge impact social media makes on a brand and its success. Websites such as Hootsuite help manage different social media websites. This website allows users to schedule and post to up to 35 different social media platforms.
Inbound Marketing Automation
The CMO Council also states that content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing at 62% less of a cost. Hubspot was founded in 2006 and aims to help businesses to “attract, engage, and delight customers by delivering inbound experiences that are relevant, helpful, and personalized.” This company has over 15,000 customers in over 90 companies to whom it provides blogging, social, SEO, analytics, CRM, and more.HubSpotLogo_Dark_Web_Flat
Online Creative Services
Ever wonder how brands create beautiful images for social, email or print deliverables? With companies like Canva emerging in the online graphic design space, even the novice designer can create simple and ultra-professional branding for your firm in a matter of minutes. Canva is free, with premium elements available for purchase. Start creating your visual content by using Canva’s templates or highly customize starting from a blank page. Digital options include blog graphics, cover photos, social media images and much more. Print templates include presentations, flyers, posters and invitations.
Scoring Marketing Tools
Does your inbox feel overpowered by great companies reaching out, but you don’t know where to start or who you really need? G2, a business software review platform, allows users to learn more about marketing products, compare them side by side and access full reports. Products are assigned a G2 score, a market presence score, and a satisfaction score. Viewers can see how many ratings each product has – ranging from 10 to over 800.
From start-ups to legacy companies, there are many different tools available to develop and evolve your digital brand. What are your favorite tools?

3-D Printing: A Brief Overview

By: John Schmitt

In August 2015, the FDA gave approval to Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to start distributing the first 3D printed pill. WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company, a Chinese construction firm, used 3D printed materials to construct the walls for a five story apartment block this past Spring. Currently Local Motors Manufacturing is producing 3D printed car bodies. Drawn is
print1a French furniture company which only designs and sells products that are 3D printed. And if you see your dentist and need a tooth repaired, the repair material will likely be 3D printed.
This article provides an introduction and overview to 3D printing, a subject that covers a broad range of technologies and equipment. “3D printing” and “Additive Manufacturing” (AM) are terms used to describe the same process that is, fundamentally, using a machine to build an object from a series of added layers. This is a distinctly new form of manufacturing since traditionally objects were created by a subtractive process. Subtractive manufacturing starts with a material that is then cut, drilled or shaped into the finished product. 3D printing adds material as needed to create the product. To accomplish this, designers and manufacturers use different types of 3D printers and various types of additive material.
A current list of additive manufacturing processes include:

  • FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling
  • EBM – Electron Beam Melting
  • DLP – Digital Light Processing
  • LOM – Laminate Object Manufacturing
  • SLS – Selective Laser Sintering
  • MJM – Multi Jet Modeling

The different types of additive process relate to the variety of materials that can be used to print. Plastic is the most common substance, but ceramic, metal, wood, concrete, food and skin cells are all being used to make 3D printed objects. Some of these printers are small enough for a desktop environment while some need the space of a large factory to operate. Price aligns with the scale and sophistication of additive manufacturing machines. Desktop printers start around $1,000, while large factory printers can cost millions of dollars. The variety of machines allows for adaptability to the needs of a work flow. A small design firm could use a mid-range priced in-house printer ($2,000-$8,000) to make an initial design and print it in plastic. After several iterations when the final design is ready, the files can be uploaded to a service bureau with more expensive machines to complete the finished design in whatever material is needed.
3D printing is an exciting and rapidly developing field with a wide impact on design, manufacturing and marketing. One of the main advantages is that it allows the designer to go from concept to actualization quicker and more directly. For example, Nike has greatly shortened the time from the concept stage for a new shoe design. To quote a Nike designer, “A new shoe design has been reduced from years to hours”. It’s not just the speed of the 3D printer that allows this, but that there are less steps between the idea and the mnewbalanufacturing process. The impact of faster product design and finished manufacturing results in a more responsive marketing environment. In addition to images shown to focus groups, hand-held, fully functioning 3D printed prototypes can be utilized. Also, the same 3D designs that are used for printing can be used in commercials and in web and mobile sites for review and modification.
A good analogy of the impact that 3D printing will have on product marketing and sales is what happened with the music industry and the introduction of digital file formats. Instead of sharing digital music, people will be able to share object files; files that can be modified to an individual’s desire. Companies will have the advantage with specific customization of products tailored to an event or promotion. A dynamic between the consumer and company can be established. Say you’re looking for a new watch to purchase. You bring up a company’s mobile app, browse their basic selections and pick one to start. At this point, using a 3D design interface, you modify the design to your specific needs. That file you create is used in a 3D printer to produce the new watch. The watch company could then share your design with others and promote it on social networking sites.cereal
The buzz about 3D printing is not unwarranted. It is customization at lower cost. Distance between design and production is shortened. Leveraging open source software and social networking to build an engaged community. An almost unlimited choice of printable materials. This impact will effect both large and small producers. One hope is that production of parts will become more localized. I cannot imagine any industry that will not be affected by additive manufacturing.
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Interview with FocalCast Cofounders Devin Turner and Charlie Beckwith

By: Kathryn Todd

I sat down with Devin Turner and Charlie Beckwith, co-founders of FocalCast. This new app is available in the Google Store and App Store and is designed as “a catalyst for learning in the classroom allowing students and teachers to annotate and give presentations from their mobile devices while sharing the newly created information instantly through the cloud.” The Capital Innovators accelerator program brought this business to St. Louis and this interview explores what goes into making an app and what makes St. Louis unique.
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What do you think sets FocalCast apart from other apps?

FocalCast was the first app that allowed users to conduct a wireless presentation from a phone. Now the app is the only one that goes cross-platform and is in the testing phases of connecting two devices to both annotate together on the same slide or whiteboard.

Tell us about the Capital Innovators accelerator program in St. Louis?

This program helped Charlie and Devin improve by requiring them to put in an incredible amount of work in a short time and forcing them to hear constructive criticism. Although they didn’t appreciate it at the time, looking back they realize the benefits. In three months, they created an entire iOS application. The program also helped them connect with wonderful mentors such as Dan Kish, the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Panera Bread, as well as Carl Turza, a VP at Granger.

What inspired you to start FocalCast when your background is in aircraft technology?

Charlie and Devin met over Skype after being introduced by mutual friends. They noticed a gap in the wireless technology world and wanted to take advantage of it. Both wanted a career outside of the traditional corporate environment. They saw their age as advantage, saying “We’re so young. This is the time where you’re supposed to set your own path.”

How have you educated yourself on app development and business?

The two referenced Reid Hoffman, Executive Chairman and co-Founder of LinkedIn, who stated “Starting a company is like throwing yourself off the cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.” With backgrounds in computer engineering, Devin and Charlie had the technology aspect of this business down, but didn’t know much about running a business. After taking part in the Rice Business Plan Competition in Texas, the two started working to grow their business outward instead of tailoring their business to their personal needs. One eye opener for this duo was when they realized they had 7,000 users and none of their email addresses. This didn’t allow the company to get information, feedback, or funding.

What brought you to St. Louis?

Capital Innovators reached out to the pair after their competition in Texas landed them the Gimmal Outstanding IT Prize. There had been other potential investors but none had terms they could agree to. They enjoy St. Louis as it is a growing tech hub and the “largest small community you’ll ever see”.  Residents see the same entrepreneurs at many events, which are small enough to avoid confusion, but large enough to make a difference. These co-founders enjoy St. Louis’ mid-west charm and see opportunity in its many funding programs.
The two have found that people in St. Louis are willing to help and want FocalCast to succeed. Other professionals give up a lot of time and resources without asking for favors in return. This small community really proved beneficial after they spoke at a local Microsoft office in Creve Coeur. An executive approached the pair and asked if they would be attending Infocom, the largest professional AV trade show in North America. When telling the executive financial constraints would prevent them from attending, the executive offered to buy their tickets. While at the conference, the executives showed Charlie and Devin around and introduced them to other companies like Google.
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What advice would you give to students interested in technology?

Do it! They say if there’s any time to take advantage of St. Louis’ resources, it’s now. Charlie and Devin were lucky to find partners who shared the same motivation and drive, and appreciated not having to take the traditional route of working up through a company. From the business side, this pair recommends finding either 10 people willing to donate $100 or 100 people willing to donate $10. This way, you know your product will have support and you have funding.
Entrepreneurs should also have a thick skin. Charlie and Devin were laughed at in the beginning, when this type of technology wasn’t as popular. They realized it wasn’t a reflection of their business or product but rather a lack of understanding of the growth of technology. They recommend knowing when to take feedback and when to stick to your vision.

The Hot HR Technology Trends Of 2014

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a solid independent survey of HR tech trends that will affect the workplace in 2014. The Information Services Group III -1.1% (ISG), a leading technology insights, market intelligence and advisory services company, recently conducted the ‘Industry Trends in Human Resources Technology and Service Delivery Survey’. Released in February 2014, the survey presents findings, which, while not surprising, should be top of mind for leaders and talent managers everywhere.”
Read the Full Article on Forbes “The Hot HR Technology Trends Of 2014“.

Amazon Officially Unveils Kindle Unlimited Subscription Service

amazon logo

On Friday, Amazon unveiled their newest service an ebook subscription service named Kindle Unlimited.
“The service promises access to 600,000 books in the Kindle reading library that members can read on their Kindle ereaders and tablets, iOS and Android devices and on Windows and Mac desktops and laptops. The service will also offer unlimited access to 2,000 audio books from Audible.”
Read the full story on Mashable.

Yahoo Acquires RayV to Improve Online Video Technology

“Yahoo has acquired RayV, a video streaming startup, the two companies announced Friday. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
RayV, which launched in 2005, develops software to stream HD quality video online and through mobile devices. The startup is based in Los Angeles, but with R&D operations in Tel Aviv. Most of its employees will be joining Yahoo’s R&D center in Israel.”
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