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April 1st, 2015

Rising star: Melius

Rising star: Melius

Prompt works in technology hubs on either side of the pond, so we’re always keen to get to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in both Boston and London. Each week, we’ll interview a local startup to learn more about the technology and inspiration that can be found right here at home. Recently we chatted with RJ Irving, co-founder and CEO of Melius. This Boston-based startup develops an application that collects your basic financial information and identifies inefficiencies to help improve your money planning for the future.

1)        Tell us a bit about Melius.

Melius helps financial advisors with the front-end of their business. Most of the technology built for the financial space is geared toward making existing businesses more efficient. The trouble is that most people cannot build a business. That is where we come in. Melius is a simple tool that advisors use with their prospects to educate them about the building blocks of a strong financial plan. Built into our tool is a direct link between advisors and prospects to accelerate the on-boarding process. Most other fintech companies start with the idea of replacing the advisors all together. Melius is designed to enhance the human relationship, not replace it.

2)        What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation means so many different things. If I had to narrow it down to two they would be simplification and solving a problem from another angle.

3)        Why is New England such a hotbed for innovation?

As New Englanders it is in our DNA to innovate and look for a better way. A little idea about a government for the people by the people started here. We have been innovators since leaving our homelands to start and create new lives for ourselves.

4)        Do you have any concerns about New England’s growth and innovation culture?

My only concern would be that after this winter more and more people will question why they subject themselves to this climate. Most new businesses are location agnostic and with that freedom it gets harder and harder to endure eight feet of snow and single digit temperatures.

5)        What are some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the New England tech scene?

Not all tech companies are setting up shop in downtown Boston. We are seeing tech companies pop up in Portland ME, Western MA, Southern NH – really all over.

6)        If you weren’t based in New England, which city and/or country would you want to be based in and why?

If we were not based here in Boston, we would most likely end up in Denver or Boulder, Colorado. There are great people there, a great vibe, and you still get to experience all the seasons. But even when it does snow in the winter, it can also be 70 the next day. If we left the country there is a great fintech startup scene in Australia which I think we could get used too as well!

7)        If you could meet any single innovator (alive or dead) over a coffee, who would you want to meet?

I would want to have a coffee with Walt Disney. Hands down one of the greatest innovators I have studied. He went $1.5 million in debt in 1937, hot on the heels of the great depression, to make Snow White. It was the first of its kind, a full-length annotated film, and it grossed over $416 million.

8)        Name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you love – either recently or in the past – and why you bought it.

I just bought a MacBook Air to replace my MacBook Pro. The old one was only five years old, but the difference in weight and speed is night and day.

To learn more about Melius, please visit their website here. To be our next Rising Star, get in touch today

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March 17th, 2015

Prompt to the rescue: New crowdfunding PR packages

Prompt to the rescue: New crowdfunding PR packages

Crowdfunding can be exhilarating with ups and downs against the backdrop of constant momentum. That’s why the team here at Prompt loves working on crowdfunding journeys.

Over the years, we’ve worked on many rewards and donation-based campaigns (think Kickstarter and Indiegogo, though there are plenty of others to choose from) campaigns to help bring innovative, creative and fun products, services and offerings to new audiences. We may come out the other side of a campaign a little tired, but never worse for wear – and with even more ideas and experience.

We’ve spent a long time bringing together all of our hard-earned crowdfunding expertise and created the perfect package – the Crowdfunding Rescue PR Package. It’s a step-by-step public relations program designed specifically forcrowdfunding campaigns.

We’ll provide you with a detailed review of current communication, media and PR activities – because you can’t get anywhere without proper analysis and planning. Then we’ll get going on coaching calls, Q&A sessions and some pre-made templates to nail down messaging, content, goals, media engagement best practices and ultimately, a customized launch plan.

Intrigued? Check it out here – you won’t want to hit launch without us.

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February 6th, 2015

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Usability 24/7

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Usability 24/7

Working in technology hubs on both side of the Atlantic, we’re always keen to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in Boston and London. Each week in our newsletter – The Prompt Byte – we interview a local startup to learn more about technology and inspiration that can be found at home.

This week, we garnered some great insights from Paul Blunden, creator of Usability 24/7 – a UK-based innovator revolutionizing multi-platform user experience. Get in touch with them on Twitter at @Usability247.

  1. What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation is all about improvement. In some instances it means being brave enough to challenge the system. In others, it involves painstaking work to bring about incremental gains that result in positive change. It can be the work of one person or a team collaborating. It may not be a lightning bolt moment, but instead something seemingly trivial that still brings about a positive change. In the age in which we live technology is very exciting, but it is not the limit of innovation. In my view process innovation can be just as rewarding.

  1. Please tell us about Usability24/7’s vision.

Our vision is to change the world one interface at a time (if we have to). We want everything to be usable everywhere, for everyone all of the time. If we achieve this then it will be better for businesses and better for consumers. No one has ever disputed the ROI of user experience (UX) and usability research with me. In fact, most agree that it’s a good thing. And yet not all companies invest in it. I set up Usability24/7 to address this contradiction. In order to achieve our vision we are building an international network of senior, experienced UX researchers accredited to our quality standards. We are making sure that they are familiar with our methodologies, all of which have been designed to be repeatable so that outcomes are not entirely determined by those conducting the research. We’re structuring our services in a pragmatic way so that our customers don’t feel that they are paying for things they don’t need. We have invested in technologies to allow us to conduct research with almost any device in almost any location, and then stream that research to the client wherever they may be. If the client doesn’t want a report then that’s fine; we simply provide a verbal debrief instead. It’s all about being customer-centric and delivering services that are easier to understand and buy, while at the same time ensuring that the value in the deliverable is clear for the client.

  1. What do you predict or look forward to in 2015 with regards to London’s innovation culture?

It’s a really exciting time for London. We’re attracting talented people and combining that talent pool with investment capital and facilities. Incubators and hubs like the Google Campus are providing an environment where people can get together and develop their ideas. The job market for graduates is tough but I think that may drive innovation too. Young people, who can often be more fearless around innovation, strive for opportunities for work experience, and work harder to get their ideas off the ground. Major technology brands are injecting greater funds into the digital industry and driving individuals and organisations to be more innovative. This enables places like the Flux Innovation Lounge, which is genuinely driving innovation, to exist at all. Ten years ago these levels of financial investment simply weren’t available from big brands, and so the scale of innovation was different and the culture more constrained.

 

  1. What trends and challenges have you seen in the London technology scene?

A slightly worrying trend I have seen over the past few years is that in some areas innovation and design seems to have become disconnected with users. UX designers are increasingly expected to act as proxy for understanding the user, but not everyone is Jonathan Ive! This is a major challenge because as mobile adoption has increased our understanding of user behaviour struggles to keep pace. Users, consumers, customers – whatever we want to call them – are using technology in ways that we don’t fully understand. For example, users complete activities across smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops, often using all devices to complete a single task. Technology is not designed to track that diversity of horizontal behaviour, and is generally more suited to vertical action. This situation is going to become more complicated with the arrival of wearable technology into the main stream (think Michael Gove’s smartwatch), swiftly followed by different interface and display metaphors. All this in addition to putting remote drones in the hands of the public at large! With so much innovation and new technology reaching consumers, ensuring that it supports user behaviour is a major challenge. It can make or break an idea, however good that idea is. Innovators need to find new ways to understand users, get their ideas tested, and not be put off by failure.

  1. If you could meet any single innovator (alive or historical) over a coffee, who would you like to meet? What would you ask them or tell them about?

I’d like to meet Sir Ken Robinson, an innovator in the area of creativity in business and in education. I think he has answered almost every question I have about how we can help people be more creative so I would simply tell him what a profound impact he has had on me and the way I think about myself, run my business, motivate my colleagues and bring up my children.

  1. Please name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you really wanted, and why you bought it.

I’d prefer to talk about a number of pieces of usability technology which together fix a big problem in mobile research. It took me months to identify all the elements and work out how to use them together, but what they do is enable us to intelligently research people using mobile phones. The only alternative methods available previously involved attaching a camera to a phone or a person, and then have a researcher lean over the shoulder of the participant. Either that or use a software solution like Reflector which often proved unreliable over wireless networks. The new technology I’ve assembled now allows me to display the screen of a mobile phone on a test laptop which a researcher can see easily. We can then record and even stream the results to clients viewing remotely. It has literally changed the way in which we work, and it’s brilliant.

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January 30th, 2015

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Mobco

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Mobco

Working in technology hubs on both side of the Atlantic, we’re always keen to know more about the innovators nearby. Each week in our newsletter – The Prompt Byte – we interview a local innovator to learn more about technology and inspiration on both sides of the Atlantic.

This week, we talked with Ulrik Van Schepdael, the founder of Belgium-based Mobco. Mobco is helping companies mobilize their IT infrastructure with secure device management and mobilizing applications.

  1. What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation is for me the practical application of an invention (technology, process, ….). One of the key roles of our company is just to do that for our customers. We scan the mobile technology, apps and possibilities and translate that into practical and applicable “tools” for our customers businesses.

An iPad in business is not an innovation as such, but the fact we can remotely configure those devices and enable mobile sales or field force to do their job more efficiently, that’s innovation.

  1. Tell us about Mobco’s vision:

There is an evolution ongoing where the IT department gradually no longer

‘purchases’ employee hardware. Focus now goes to the management of the Corporate Data and Apps on those devices. That’s certainly true for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but this is also the trend we see happening with Macbooks and Windows 8.1/10. In our vision we see IT evolving from controlling hardware to controlling data. Our job, our mission, is to support the business in that transition, hence our baseline: ‘we mobilize your business’.

  1. What do you predict or look forward to in 2015 with regards to Belgium’s innovation culture?

When we started 5 years ago with Mobile Device Management people looked at us and asked us ‘why’? Today, we see that every IT integrator has a mobile offering, and that’s great. Mobile is generally accepted in the business, no doubt about that. For 2015 and beyond, this mobile innovation trend is becoming more

important than ever before: companies are actually thinking mobile first. Or better – they’re basically thinking out of the (PC) box. This opens new opportunities and new possibilities. Doing business in Belgium is typically only possible on a small scale given the size of the market, the language. With the rise in importance of mobile technology, it’s no longer an issue and the market is global.

Nobody in our region should feel like “if I’m not in Silicon Valley, I will fail.” On the contrary, you’re better of NOT being in SiliconValley – the talent you need might live next door and you will not suffer from fierce HR competition to get it. Traditional businesses need to re-invent themselves (see the rise of online sales versus traditional sales) and new technology brings new opportunities for innovation, also on a small scale.

This is for me the trend forward, it’s smaller IT companies, innovative companies with in-house expertise. Companies with a focus. You could basically compare it with the trend we’ve seen in retail, we all saw the small shops disappearing in favor of the oversized supermarkets.

The consumers are turning their back to supermarkets if they want special advice, but for fast shopping of the basics the supermarket is fine. Bottom line; in IT we see the large integrators and operators suffering from cloud services which are providing the ‘basics’ and we see small expert companies providing the ‘top value’ the business needs

  1. What are some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the Belgium technology scene?

The challenge in Belgium is currently no different than anywhere else. I believe we have just as much talent as anywhere else. This makes the challenge universal.

Business apps that are specific to the local economy and focused on the business are the 2015 opportunity.

  1. If you could meet any single innovator (alive or dead) over a coffee, who would you want to meet?

Steve Jobs would be top of mind. I admire the way he built values that are used today to create new products and the way he took the computer industry from “look how fast this PC is” to “look what you can do with this device” – an innovation on its own.

  1. Name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you really wanted (recently or a past purchase) and why you bought it.

I buy a lot of stuff and not all experiences are brilliant I must admit… but there is one I want to share with you and that’s the Harmony Home Hub. This ‘hub’ is simple to set-up, simple to use and combines basic technologies to deliver a user experience you’re looking for.

It combines Bluetooth for your remote control, no more point and shoot to reach the TV or amp, it interprets your commands into signals IR to different devices at once and you control the whole set-up over Wi-Fi via a web interface that knows just about any brand and device out there.

It comes for 100 USD and solved all my home remote problems. I’m not saying we’re doing the same in our business, but we do simplify the life of the IT admin and take away the mobile complexity. At the same time we enable more functionalities on the mobile devices and we do bring a brilliant user experience to the employee!

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January 23rd, 2015

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part three): Examples from Quirky to ZIIBRA

Crowdfunding platforms A-Z (part three): Examples from Quirky to ZIIBRA

Over the past week we’ve been counting down the crowdfunding options A-Z. If you missed A-P, be sure to scroll back through this week’s blog posts here. As for Q-Z, here we go:

  1. Quirky. A site geared to support inventors of new gadgets, Quirky provides community collaboration, as well as funding for selected projects. It then manufactures and sells the products. quirky.com
  1. Razoo. This site offers donation-based crowdfunding for ‘causes that make a difference’. It provides widgets, social media integration and an iPhone app to help publicize campaigns. razoo.com
  1. RocketHub. Calling itself “the world’s crowdfunding machine,” this site offers donation-based crowdfunding for social, charitable, business and creative projects. rockethub.com
  1. SellaBand. Another donation-based site helping musicians to raise funds from fans. Customize your funding page or create your own stand-alone pages to embed on other websites. sellaband.com
  1. SelfStarter. Started by a group that was turned down by Kickstarter, this open source solution lets self-starters build their own crowdfunding platform. It’s low cost, but takes some work. selfstarter.us
  1. Somolend. A debt-based crowdfunding site helping small, established bricks-and-mortar US businesses raise funds from friends, family, customers and accredited investors. somolend.com
  1. StartupCrowdfunding. Connects startup companies with funding from investors and angels worldwide. startupcrowdfunding.com
  1. ZIIBRA. Just as farmers markets bring ethical food producers and discerning consumers closer together to share the things they enjoy, ZIIBRA helps artists and other creative types get closer to the people that love, support and buy the products they make. ziibra.com/

Remember, that we know there are many options to consider before launching your own crowdfunding project and it can be daunting – so sign up for one of our Sunday ’15 Ways to Increase your Crowdfunding Campaign Success’ webinars, which run live every Sunday at 11am ET/ 4pm GMT. To your crowdfunding campaign success!

 

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August 29th, 2013

Prompt launches flexible ‘First Byte’ PR packages for tech start-ups

Prompt launches flexible ‘First Byte’ PR packages for tech start-ups

Customizable service bundles also offer ‘add-on’ options for rapid response to market opportunities

Boston, MA – August 28, 2013 – Prompt Boston has launched a range of PR, marketing, content creation and social media service packages designed specifically to benefit technology start-ups. Prompt’s ‘First Byte’ packages support key business activities that promote thought leadership, media relations and content creation. Nicknamed ‘Megabyte’,‘Gigabyte’,‘Terabyte’ and ‘Petabyte’, each scale of package also offers add-on options through a ‘Byte Size’ menu, enabling companies to respond easily to sales and growth-related opportunities, or swiftly trigger specific activities when most benefit can be gained. These optional add-ons include analyst relations, customer case studies, media training, event support and even award programs.

The programs also cover PR, media relations and copywriting in the UK, France and DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), enabling American-headquartered companies to easily extend their marketing activities to new territories and to maximize the return on their marketing dollars.

Hazel Butters, CEO of Prompt Boston, said: “With the fast-paced nature of today’s technology industry, many companies, particularly start-ups, need PR programs that are flexible, scalable and economical. Increasingly we find ourselves working with start-ups and tech companies that have previously been scared away from PR by hefty six-figure fees and teams that seem to consist of a cast of thousands.  Prompt’s ‘First Byte’ packages help our clients to build impactful, results-driven PR programs which remain focused, manageable and affordable.”

Prompt’s ‘First Byte’ PR packaged activities are delivered with full transparency to ensure clear visibility of progress and results. Through this certain and honest approach, Prompt’s specialist teams work as true extensions of clients’ internal PR and marketing teams.

Hazel concluded: “PR is an important component of any business plan or strategy. With Prompt’s packages, companies can reap valuable results and predictable returns on their investments. It’s all too easy for start-ups to regard PR as just another cost, because they aren’t made plainly aware of the tangible benefits PR brings. Others may understand the advantages of PR but feel that hidden costs make it prohibitive for them to adopt. Our start-up packages are exclusively designed for early stage companies; they contain no nasty surprise costs, and are created specifically to help smaller teams harness the power of PR as part of a viable and sustainable business strategy.”

Tammy Kahn Fennell, CEO of MarketMeSuite, a user-friendly social media platform trusted by 30,000 users to organize, prioritize and engage smarter on social media, said: “As a growing software company with commitments in engineering, new product development, customer service, partner strategy and sales, it can be challenging to free up budget and dedicate time for specific media activities. We worked with Prompt when we needed set-price media work because the team could commit to a predictable fee that helped us to plan financially, while prioritizing activities that complemented our immediate sales and growth strategy.”

To learn more about Prompt’s ‘First Byte’ PR packages, visit the website. To receive more information on pricing and package details, please fill out Prompt’s form here.

About Prompt
Prompt is a communications agency that enables marketers and entrepreneurs to increase sales and marketing effectiveness. Specializing in innovative markets including technology, green tech and sustainability, Prompt helps its clients communicate effectively and authentically with core audiences online and offline through PR, media relations, copywriting, webinars, market and industry analysis, social media, video content and customer reference programs. Prompt Communications has offices and consultants spanning in London, Massachusetts and California. Prompt’s current and former clients include Adeptra, Adobe Systems Incorporated, Aperture, Corizon, Dell Compellent, Foviance, Genesys Telecommunications, GenSight, Grouptree, IBM, jovoto, KANA, Oracle Corporation, smartFOCUS and Webtide.
www.prompt-communications.com

Media contacts:
Hazel Butters or Jackie Fraser
1 (617) 401-2717
press@prompt-communications.com

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March 8th, 2013

Top 9 Ways to Market Your Startup on Social

Top 9 Ways to Market Your Startup on Social

Guest blog post by Tammy Kahn Fennell & Michelle Keegan Kimball of MarketMeSuite

1. Geo-Target. Whether you’re a local business, promoting an event or just trying to get people in the front door of your brick and mortar store, you’ll be far more successful if you’re able to target in a particular geographical area. It’s easy to conduct searches on Twitter to determine who is tweeting about topics relevant to your business in a specific location(s). A simple way to do this is via MarketMeSuite’s Real-time Search.

2. Target by keywords or phrases. If location is not important, you’ll minimally want to narrow down the “Twittersphere” by niche. There are hundreds of thousands of tweets going out every minute, so cutting through the clutter has to be a top priority. Perform searches based on keywords, and reply to relevant tweets. If you can phrase your interaction as a question, all the better. You’ll have a much higher response rate when you are asking someone to respond.  An example is an antiques website finding someone tweeting about an auction they recently attended.  “I saw you tweeted about an auction, what did you purchase?”

MarketMeSuite

This kind of proactive interaction is a perfect way to start a conversation with a potential customer. The person who attended an auction at “Phil’s Auction House,” and bought an oil painting will likely reply, and it can be taken to the next level. “Phil’s Auction house is great.  If you like oil paintings I just put a few on my website you might find interesting.”

3. Be Real. When you’re having conversation with potential customers, you want to be real. Spam is one surefire way to turn people off. As in the previous example, you want to start a conversation with qualified leads, and grow the conversation organically. You don’t need 500 people to respond to you each day when getting just 5 or 10 qualified leads will add much more to your bottom line.

4. Always be there. As a SME owner you are expected to wear a lot of hats, so when your social media hat comes off for a little while, you don’t want to leave your followers hanging. Schedule up some helpful tweets so that your social presence is consistent even while you’re busy doing other things.

5. Give others credit.  One big mistake often seen on Twitter is tweeting out loads of unattributed feeds. If you know of a blog you think your followers will be interested in, mark it as  RT @the blog owner’s Twitter account.

There are so many collaboration opportunities in social media. Retweeting is a great way to show your followers you have your finger on the pulse of your industry. It shows your users you’re monitoring the field and curating some great content for them. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a great way to get the attention of the person whose content you are pushing. Attribution has the added benefit of showing up on the blog feed owner’s account as an “@ mention” which increases their chance of returning the favor, thereby increasing your own traffic.You can start a lot of great strategic partnerships with a simple “RT.”

6. Don’t Miss The Moonwalking Bear. We all like to think we are totally aware, and couldn’t possibly miss something that’s right there in front of us, especially if it’s important. And if you think you’re totally aware, this awareness test  is worth trying!

Social media is a great way to field customer requests, support, and even research. Set up searches for keywords related to your brand and put in the time to handle requests daily.

Because social media conversations happen in real time, you can usually put out a tiny flame before it becomes a full fledged fire — often in 140 characters or less!

7. CRM is key. Twitter is a great way to handle many customer requests, especially if you can do it as close to real time as possible. Set up searches for keywords related to your brand, and put in the time daily to handle requests and escalate them through appropriate channels when necessary. A happy customer is a repeat customer.

social media8. Some Automation Is Bad. Does this mean you can’t streamline the process? Of course not! Some automation is okay. For example, scheduling updates and pulling in content from your RSS feed; these are great time savers. It’s fine to even have a few templates ready to reply when you see people tweeting or posting on Facebook about something, but never automate the interaction because the results could be embarrassing.

I once tried an app for my father’s antiques business that would automate replies without human interaction. I set it to look for a rare German figurine, and asked it to send people tweeting about it a specific reply if they found the figurine. Since I was not manually reviewing the matches, I had no idea that the name of this German figurine was also a well-known Pokemon character. I had a lot of confused people @replying me. Templates are fine (there’s only so many ways you can answer a certain question) but make sure you’re reviewing who you are replying to and customizing when appropriate!

9. Don’t be afraid to unfollow or unlike. You don’t have time to read posts that have no value to you or your business. Generally, if someone isn’t following you back, there’s not a whole lot of point of following them (the exceptions are larger companies or celebrities you may follow). Remember, if they aren’t following you they aren’t seeing anything you say, so the relationship is very one-sided.

MarketMeSuite is a social media management dashboard for small- and mid- sized businesses. The web-based platform allows businesses to manage and monitor their social media presence, find targeted leads & build engagement with new and existing customers. Try it Free!

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