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  • feedwordpress 00:19:11 on 2016/09/22 Permalink
    Tags: AARON RENN, , , , , chicago, , , , environment, , innovation comes from the edges, james clear, John Carpenter, john hagel, Katy Lynch, metaphors, pearls of wisdom, peter thiel, , Roosevelt University, Scott Kleinberg, Shia Kapos, silicon valley, , stategy, strategy, , texas, the edge of innovation, thiel   

    Dear Chicago: Embrace the Edge 


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    Dear Chicago: Embrace the Edge

    Last week, Peter Thiel casually and brazenly denigrated Chicago, hyping Silicon Valley while speaking at a Roosevelt University Chicago event:

    In Thiel’s own words: “If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

    Chicago has reacted with numerous self-depricating or defensive articles.

    Buck up, Chicago.

    According to the IRS, Five MILLION people have left California in the past decade. The exodus equates to a whopping net loss of $26 billion in annual income for the state. The majority headed to one of five states: Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Washington.

    The reason for the California exodus is no secret: exorbitant housing costs, a housing shortage, the second lowest home ownership rates in the country, high taxes, statewide unemployment higher than the national average, low wages, fiscal instability, systemic gender/race discrimination, increasing business regulation, not to mention a dearth of companies solving *actual* problems, severe droughts, a water shortage, earthquakes, dry lightning, and accelerating ozone pollution levels (also among the highest in the country).

    Peter Thiel paints a rosy picture of Silicon Valley. Meanwhile Silicon Valley’s restaurant industry is literally starving.

    Location is everything. Research has proven that environment has a surprisingly strong influence on success. Unless you fit the Silicon Valley’s very narrow niche “mold for success” (read: white, educated, technology-savvy males under age 40 — age 50 if you are lucky enough to be a VC — with money and family connections), look elsewhere for opportunity. The folks in Silicon Valley are not more talented; they’re merely more insular, provincial, protectionist, and elitist with regard to membership in their private club.

    Remember folks: DIVERSITY DRIVES INNOVATION and INNOVATION COMES FROM THE EDGES. In the words of brainy entrepreneur James Clear: “Life is a game; if you want better results over a sustained period of time, play the game in an environment that favors you.” James also wisely once advised: “worry not — aim for the subtle art of not giving a f*ck.”

    Embrace the edge, Chicago. Don’t kow-tow to Silicon Valley pundits and bullies. You’re better than that.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:43:38 on 2015/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: chicago, , , eddie lou, employees, employers, employment, employment website, , freelancers, hourly workers, , job postings, jobs, labor, minimum wage, networking, oca ventures, private equity, shiftgig, startup, Startup Innovation, , , VC,   

    Innovation Expert Series: Shiftgig 


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    Innovation Expert Series: Shiftgig

    In this week’s Innovation Expert Series interview, we’re speaking with the CEO of ShiftGig, a professional networking and employment website platform that makes it easy for restaurants, hotels and retailers to post short-term hourly gigs and equally as easy for qualified and skilled workers to claim them. Shiftgig is changing the way people work.

    Every other week, RE:INVENTION’s Innovation Expert Series features interviews with key executives at small to middle market companies that are transforming and innovating their respective industries or markets.

    Shiftgig Company LogoLet’s set the stage for our interview with disruptive Chicago startup Shiftgig. The U.S. economy has dramatically changed. The majority of workers in the U.S. are hourly workers rather than full-time employees or independent freelancers. Shiftgig is leading this trend, connecting employers with locally available and previously vetted hourly workers.

    In November, Chicago-based startup Shiftgig successfully raised $22 million in venture capital bringing the company’s total capital raised to date to $35 million. Shiftgig venture and private equity investors include: Chicago Ventures, DRW Venture Capital, GGV Capital, Garland Capital Group, KGC Capital, Pritzker Group, Wicklow Capital, Renren Inc. and numerous individual investors. Shiftgig CEO, Eddie Lou, is a former OCA Ventures venture capitalist who advised numerous technology startups prior to co-founding industry disruptor Shiftgig.

    ************************************************************************

    RE: For those folks who aren’t yet aware of your startup company, can you give us a brief background about yourself and Shiftgig?

    Lou: My name is Eddie Lou. I am a co-founder and the CEO of Shiftgig. At Shiftgig, we connect people to business shifts on their mobile devices, and provide them with the flexibility to work where, when and for which businesses they like. For businesses, our platform solves the challenges of filling and managing short term job assignments, which traditionally has been expensive and difficult to manage.

    RE: Where did you get the original inspiration for your idea? Do you recall the initial idea spark™?

    Lou: In Q3 2013, we decided to begin monetizing our business. Prior to that, our business was completely free. We talked to about 20 business customers about what they would spend money on. Many of them asked for two things: 1) qualified, vetted workers and 2) workers for short term gigs ranging from a day to 90 days. At the same time, we email surveyed our members, who were applying for full-time and part-time jobs on our site. Many of them expressed interest in making money via additional gigs. We decided to take this feedback and allow the connection on a mobile device.

    RE: It’s tough to get from initial idea spark to implementable idea™. Did you utilize any specific “lean startup” techniques to develop/test/launch Wrapify? If yes, how? If not, why not?

    Lou: Yes, MVP and continuous deployment; both allow us to test and iterate quickly
    We felt our best strategy was to test our idea in one market. We opened in Chicago in early 2014 and within a few months we knew we were on to something. By December of that year, we opened our second location in New York City. In 2015, we really got on a roll. We launched in Dallas in March, Atlanta in July, Houston in September, Memphis in October, and Miami in November.

    RE: Did you utilize any “design thinking” techniques? If yes, how? If not, why not?

    Lou: While our founders believe in design thinking, web/mobile design and usability, we are not experts in design thinking. We think it is important and hired our Creative Director, who heads up UX, beginning of Q2 2015.

    Shiftgig's Team in Action

    Shiftgig’s Team in Action

    RE: Describe your company’s biggest challenge to date. How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

    Lou: Our biggest challenge to date has been learning how to scale quickly. We have been very successful, but it took a few bumps and bruises on the way to get there. It is very important for entrepreneurs to know when to get out of their own way. We did this by making several critical hires of experienced managers who had successfully scaled other startups in the past and knew what they were doing. We’ve got a great team right now, and we’re still growing.

    RE: How does your team promote internal and external innovation?

    Lou: First and foremost, we are a technology company. Many of the businesses we compete with to provide short-term labor are not technology companies. This distinction is why so many businesses give us a try and ultimately stay Shiftgig clients. Everyone from our systems infrastructure developers to our front line sales reps know this and communicate about Shiftgig in this way.

    RE: Have you found yourself having to pivot or reinvent aspects of your business since you started? How have you done so — and managed change?

    Lou: We re-invented the business at the end of 2013. Shiftgig began as a web based social network and job board focused on providing full-time and part-time job opportunities to the hospitality vertical. Today, we are a mobile marketplace that provides short-term gigs in the hospitality, marketing and retail verticals.

    RE: If you were forced to choose, which do you think is MOST important for a company’s long run success in your industry: great product, great people, or great execution?

    Lou: Great people — with great people, the company will launch great products and execute!

    RE: What do you think is most important for your company to do in order to keep up with the rapid changes in technology?

    Lou: Our plan is to stay on the forefront of the gig economy. We are the leaders in our space and have every intention of staying there by listening, adapting, and bringing in the best talent we can to keep our company moving forward.

    RE: So…what’s next for Shiftgig?

    Lou: Millions of shifts for millions of people!

    Shifting forward, that concludes RE:INVENTION’s Innovation Expert Series interview with Shiftgig. Many thanks to Shiftgig CEO Eddie Lou for sharing his insights. Look for our next Expert interview in two weeks time, right here on RE:INVENTION’s Everyday Inventive Blog.

     
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