Adding Artificial Intelligence to your App - the smarter way to do business

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Whether you find it crafty or creepy, you can’t deny that AI is impacting our lives more and more every day. We can thank Artificial Intelligence for Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” personalised playlists, our ever improving email spam filters and our ability to automatically tag friends and family in photos on our smartphone.

And now, thanks to the launch of Microsoft and Amazon’s respective AI digital assistants “Cortana” and “Alexa” you're able to ask a machine “Where the nearby bars that serve local craft beer that have free WiFi and are open past 9:00 p.m”, and get a quick and accurate answer... I'd actually like to know that one. 

credit: Microsoft

credit: Microsoft

With the arrival of this technology in New Zealand comes a new range of possibilities for your own business application. Whether you're a developer, founder, designer, startup, product managers or just an AI newbie, it's worth getting your head around how a chatbot can help your business. 

How do chatbots such as Cortana and Alexa work?

Chatbots works in much the same way as a human manning a help desk and are a form of artificial intelligence that operates within defined set of rules and parameters.

Will a chatbot improve my business?

Having a chatbot on your app means you can easily see exactly what your users are looking for in your app and act accordingly. A better understanding of your user enables better targeting. By analyzing what your users are asking or talking about right now, you can drive revenue with targeted offers and ads. Voice capabilities make developers and their apps smarter.

How can I use a chatbot for my business?

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When a customer opens a chatbox dialogue box on your app to ask for assistance, the chatbot is the one responding.

So, if a customer typed or voiced the question; “What time does your store open tomorrow morning?“, using the information available, the chatbot would immediately respond in the same way as a human would; “Our store opens at 9am tomorrow morning and closes at 5pm.

How can well programmed chatbots improve your customer’s experience?

A simple weather chatbot will be able to answer the question “Will it rain tomorrow?“. However, if the programming is not there, the question “Will I need a brolly tomorrow?" may cause the chatbot to respond with an "I am sorry, I didn’t understand the question" type response, creating a poor customer experience.

A well-programmed chatbot is able to immediately process “speech-to-meaning” so it’s able to understand the context of a question and give a quick and accurate response.

How can I use this technology to effectively add AI to my app?

Glad you asked! We’re very lucky to have Microsoft’s Software Development Engineer on all things AI and IoT, Vishesh Oberoi in the BizDojo next month. Vishesh will be running a free interactive workshop on how you can harness AI technology to make your app and business work smarter. There are limited spaces so get make sure to RSVP here. 

Collider behind the scenes: #3 - We're getting excited about TechWeek ‘18!

Is TechWeek in your calendar? If it’s not, put it in there now! TechWeek 2018 will be taking place from the 19th - 27th May.

TechWeek is a nationwide initiative that showcases tech and innovation and the Collider crew are getting pretty excited about it! 

2017 was the first year TechWeek events were held in Wellington and Collider programme supported a jam-packed week of events from the Kiwi Landing Pad Sales & Marketing Jam on Monday morning to the MBIE “GovTech is the New Black” Showcase event on Friday night.

My personal favourite of the 2017 line-up was ‘Dojo Dragons’, a pitch night with our Auckland BizDojo residents Ken Erskine and Greg Sitters of 88 Kiwis. A range of startups pitched and got some super valuable feedback from Ken & Greg. It was also an educational night for the audience. I wrote lots of gems in my trusty notebook, like; 

“First thing’s first - taking the wrong money from the wrong people at the wrong time can be worse than having no money”.

So what's exciting for TechWeek 2018?

Last night we hosted a TechWeek organisers meetup for anyone keen and curious about hosting an event during TechWeek. The room was packed with some of Wellington's most creative and passionate tech minds, all keen to connect and make Wellington's TechWeek 2018 the best yet!

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While there's still lots to organise we can announce that TechWeek will have everything from a Mahuki Tech Tour of Te Papa to insights on Leading an Agile Workforce and a Collider hosted Founders Night, with a founder of a rad Welly tech company (watch this space).

The crew at Collider are also developing a lunchtime series for those that aren’t super tech savvy and want to know what the tech savvy people are talking about. We’re thinking the likes of emerging tech, Blockchain and VR? If there’s something you’d like the 101 on let us know via the form below and we’ll find an expert to de-mystify it in a workshop for you!

 

 

The 2017/18 Entrepreneur Bootcamp cohort are kicking ass & creating companies!

Every year a selected group of around 30 Victoria University students from a range of backgrounds and expertises dedicate their summer to crafting, developing and building a go to market business, and every year we're blown away with the passion and talent that these young entrepreneurs possess.

This is the fourth year that BizDojo has supported the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp, and the second year that it's been co-supported by the Collider Programme. During their time in the Bootcamp we get to give them a home in the Wellington BizDojo, where they have access to mentors and support while they validate and build their ideas. 

The current cohort comprises of 10 teams who have created businesses which range from focuses on science, crypto-currency to wanting to fix transport and employment issues. 

As the Bootcamp has just hit the halfway point, we figured now is a pretty good time to sit down with some of the teams to get their business pitch.

Check out these amazing companies below!

 

If you’d like to get involved with the Entrepreneur Bootcamp's future cohorts, get in touch with the Collider team here. We’d love to connect you!

Before the collision: #2 What does the future of Wellington’s work force look like?

Image care of Brady Dyer - click the image above to be taken to a full gallery of lovely photos

Image care of Brady Dyer - click the image above to be taken to a full gallery of lovely photos

You might know about the meetups we support, the events we host and the learning opportunities we create. But what happens behind the scenes at Collider? Our  series, "Before the Collision" is a diary from our Activation Manager Kate Macdonald where she highlights the conversations she is having, great work she is seeing in the community, events and workshops she is attending, and all the things she is learning, seeing and being surprised by in Wellington and beyond. 


30th November

The robots are coming and they’re gonna do our jobs! Uh oh. But also opportunity. What to do?... Hide under the duvet? Re-train for jobs of the future? Embrace new robot work mates? What does the future workforce look like? The Wellington Work In Progress Conference gave me loads to think about.

Earlier this month 350 Wellingtonians gathered at the St James Theatre to hear about ‘Wellington's new collar future’. The speaker line-up was awesome and covered a range of topics - skills for the machine age, digital disruption, the gig economy - to name just a few.

The standout for me was Professor Ian O Williamson - Pro Vice Chancellor & Dean of Commerce at Victoria University Business School. His topic was “Can Human be put back into Human Resources?  Managing Tomorrow’s Workforce”. I was immediately into it - at BizDojo we are all about humans. And the Collider Programme is all about creating an inclusive space for people to connect and collaborate and ultimately grow what they do.

Professor Ian spoke about a topic close to my heart - diversity.

How diversity in your team is key to innovation and execution. It’s like that old saying - two minds are better than one, but only if they think differently. If you’re growing your team, you might want to think about strategically composing a team from different backgrounds - kinda like The Avengers.

And diversity in your organisational partnerships. Think about who you’re working with and what that means for your workforce. Perhaps you could team up with a social enterprise or mental health provider - “seek out dissimilar others”.

And diversity of rewards. Once you’ve established your diverse team of ninjas, they’re not all going to want a ham for Christmas. Think about taking a flexible approach to showing your work force that you value them and think they’re doing a great job.

Thanks Ian!

The fact that we had this conference and these conversations (thanks Wellington Regional Strategy Office!) is another reason why living in Wellington is the raddest.


I always love to talk to people in the Wellington business community about what we are doing, what we could do, and what we could do TOGETHER! If you are curious about Collider, or have an idea for something great we could do together feel free to reach out via email or over on Twitter

 

Getting clear, getting simple: 5 tips for clear communications

From giving clear communications to your team to being able to write an email that does not leave your investor guessing. Communicating clearly and succintly is important for founders at any stage of their business. But where do you start? We have collected five tips to help you craft clear communications no matter the situation, from writing tips to first principles. Have your own tips to share? Pop them in the comments below. 


Go back to first principles

Whatever it is that you are trying to explain, from what your business does, to how you plan to take the next leap - you need to go back to first principles. 

What are the facts? Who are you talking to? Why should they listen? 

Imagine yourself in the shoes of the person you are trying to communicate with. Do they understand that jargon word? Do they need to know about your business background? Does that colourful joke, or dry witticism amuse them? 

If you are going into an interview, then the above questions are especially important, and it might be best to physically note your answers down and remind yourself of them before you go in to see that journalist. If you find it challenging to keep these bits of information front of mind when being interviewed? Ask if you can be interviewed by email, allowing you time to hone responses, and allowing yourself to keep on message and keep clear. 
 

Simplify

This blog post by BizDojo @ GridAKL residents Directly is a how-to on making your writing, and in-fact any form of communication you have simpler, easier to engage with and more likely to convert. Essential reading for anyone that works in industries where jargon is rife, like technology, insurance or finances OR for those that like to over-explain. 
 

Hone those writing skills - it is easier than you think 

In this Webstock talk, Kate Kiefer Lee explains the art of conversational prose, simple communications and why everyone is a writer. A great starting point for people who want to communicate clearly, Kate asks people to consider the way they speak as a tool for to hone how they write. An excellent talk, this is a must watch for any founder. 
 

Make sure the method of communication fits the goal

There are some simple facts to keep in mind when thinking about clear, concise communication. Detailed facts are best communicated in written form where people can digest and refer back to information. Meetings are best used to solve problems collaboratively, or to get a team across what is happening within a business - but are best held with an agenda, allowing the meeting to stay on course and full of focus. Slack is great for immediacy, whilst a phone-call can be a good way to deliver quick insights in a friendly more personal way.

Before you start drafting that email or pulling together notes for a meeting think about who is in the room, what you are communicating, and what you want the outcome to be. Then, find a channel of communication that fits that particular situation best. 
 

Get to your point

Summer's here, and so the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcampers!

Pohutukawa are in bloom, the aircon has been switched to “high” and the faint sound of flip-flops can be heard around the office. It must be summer. Which means BizDojo Wellington have just meet 2017/18’s summer cohort for the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp. Yussss!

The Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp helps young entrepreneurs to build a business over one summer, by using skills and networks available within Victoria University and the wider Wellington business scene. For a few days each week, BizDojo acts as a base and home to connect with Wellington’s entrepreneurial scene as these teams as they create and build their businesses.

It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. The residents at Bizdojo come from a wide pool of talents and expertise and work as great mentors for the Bootcampers who have specialised questions or concerns about their project. The Bootcampers are in turn enthusiastic and passionate about what they’re doing, bringing energy and collaborative vibes into the space.     

While it’s early days yet, we’ve grabbed a quick snapshot of this summer’s 10 (yup! 10, making it the biggest cohort yet) entrepreneurial teams.


Introducing:

“Mind Me - Product Mindy”
An AI based integration for accounting software.

HandsON
A mobile platform that allows museum visitors to experience science using AR and 3D animation.

Study Track
A platform for Universities to offer ’Crash Courses” in Degrees so students can make more informed career decisions.

Virtual Valet
An app to eliminate the dreaded parking search.

Pihinga
A service that will work with local businesses to outsource work to mothers.

Ciara
An online clothing company providing affordability for students.

Ratahi Brothers
A calculator app that can be used in formal high school exams.

Reckons
An online platform that will help people engage with civic organisations.

ISO Platform
An online platform to help international students to smoothly transfer their lives and prepare for study in New Zealand.

Creative Subscriptions
A paid subscription service for a monthly box of children’s art activities based on a buy one, give one model, where another box is sent to children from refugee backgrounds.

Brand 101 : questions and considerations for brand building

As pretty as your logo is, your brand should be more than just great design. Building effective branding, either for your business or for you as a person, is about defining what you are, what you stand for and how you are different to those around you. 

In reality, most brands are built by attributing many of the features we associate with people to a product or service. If you think about your best friend or partner; and the things that make you like them; their aesthetics may well be a part; but you are likely to talk about their personality, their values, the things they believe in and the elements that make them truly unique. We take these same areas and highlight them to build out a compelling brand story. 


What should I be thinking about when building out a brand?

Before you start building a brand you have to get the salient facts clear; which can actually involve more toing and froing than you would think. This is a really important step in the process of brand building and acts as a foundation for future steps. Essentially you are finding out the essential truth of the day to day of what your business does, from identifying your target market (by the way, everyone is not a target market), through to getting clear on exactly what it is that you offer. Some good starting points for this are the below

Although these questions may seem simple, the deeper you go the richer the rewards. 

What is your industry?  | What is your target market? 
Who are your competitors?  | What do you actually do? 
What makes what you actually do valuable? 

 

Once you have the basics covered, think emotionally

Thinking again about the example of your best friend, look at the bare facts that are above and ask yourself how can I flesh out what we do and who we do it for in a rounded out way that explains how we are different from those around us. When pondering the questions below, ask yourself about how your competitors in the market express their values or beliefs. How are yours different from theirs? Or, if they are similar, how can your personality help differentiate you in a crowded market? 
 

What tangible and emotional benefits does your product bring the user? 
What does your business truly value?  | What does your business truly believe? 
How does your business express what it does?  | How does your business express
it's values? 
 

Using both of these sets of information you want to explain then

What is your business why?  
What is the essence of your business?
What is it's mission statement?
 

Together all these facts will help you decide on future business decisions, including everything from how you visually express your brand. To how you build brand language, and the people you hire to build the culture that makes your brand live in real life. 


Raising your voice: tips on public speaking and pitching for business people

Welcome to part one of our raising your profile series - keep an eye out for more articles coming up, and if there is anything you think we should cover throw it in the comments below.  

After years of working in the business community with founders and entrepreneurs, I have found a handful of core facts to be constants. Amongst them, is the fact that most people irrespective of where they are in their founder journey find public speaking and pitching uncomfortable, and challenging. When cornered, even the most outwardly confident people will admit that getting up on stage or addressing a room is something they would rather not do, instead, they make it work because they need to. 

Instead of giving you a top ten list of public speaking tips, we are going to break down the art of great public speaking into its five parts: 
 

The five essentials to keep in mind for public speaking success

Clarity | Preparation | What your audience wants | A speaking style that suits you | Research


Clarify what it is that you are talking about

The most natural things to explain to others are concepts or ideas that are simple, and which you fully understand. Keeping this in the back of your mind, think about how you deliver speeches to your team, your investors or your local meetup? 

Do you fully comprehend the things you are saying? 
Do you use plain English? 
Do people ask you for clarification afterward? Consistently? 

Use analogy to explain your points

Instead of asking your audience to understand complicated and foreign concepts you should liken the concept you are talking about to something simple and familiar using the power of analogy.
> Find out more about the power of analogy when delivering clear messaging here

Simplify your message down to a simple sentence

The process of taking complicated concepts and refining them down to an essential truth is not only great to clarify how you think and feel about it, BUT to also allow you to really understand and master your subject matter. 
> Find out more about the power of creating a one-sentence pitch here 

Never use a long word when a short word will do

Speaking in plain English, and removing jargon will make your public speaking compelling and enable everyone in the room to understand you. The above is actually tip care of George Orwell who outlines in an essay about politics and language, the importance of simplicity. 
> Read about the power of simple text when creating compelling messaging


Come prepared

Few "off the cuff" speeches are in-fact off the cuff, and most speakers that can navigate a presentation well have crammed the framework of what they are trying to get across into their head before meeting you. So why should it be any different for you? 

Speech outline examples

Sometimes, working out what you are going to say is more about working out the mechanics of how you are going to say it. Looking at conventional speech outlines, as in the way that people typically structure a speech can be just the thing you need to get going. 
> Read about the typical speech outlines, and how useftul they can be for you

Learn from those that do - and do well

As far as the art of public speaking goes, Toastmasters are pretty well recognised for their ability to help hone speaking skills. We actually run our own Toastmasters Club here for Collider which you can read about here. But, if you aren't able to attend one of our meetups it can be a good idea to find a local chapter or at least peruse their websites for handy tips and tricks. We found the amazing "14 steps for great speech preparation" linked below on a Toastmasters website from abroad. 
> Read the 14 Steps for great Speech Preparation here  


Think about what people want to hear from you

Your job as a speaker is to engage with the audience, to get them to listen to you. So try turning your presentation plan on it's head - don't think about what you want from them. Think about why they want from you. 

Show up to give

Audiences don't listen, they experience

Everyone has memories of being talked at by a teacher or a lecturer. The pure delivery of information will only get you so far, and great public speaking will touch on peoples empathy, desire and intrigue. 
> Read more about the need to build experience into your next speaking engagement

Ensure you and your audience care about the same thing

About to present your keynote to a crowd of 500? Why should they care about what you are speaking about? Delve into who your audience is - young professionals may want to know something different than the general public, and CEO's of established businesses will want something different again. Knowing what your audience cares about will help you pitch your story perfectly to their needs. 
>  What do the people you are talking to care about? 


There is more than one kind of speech...  so find a style that suits you

My husband and I often listen to radio and podcasts and laugh as people mimic Serial or Ira Glass. And I'm definitely the kind to sit in events thinking to myself "this person has watched a lot of TED talks". What I mean to say, is that in a world where speech is presented to us on the daily; people are looking not to hear the same old all the time. If you are nervous in front of big crowds, a natural introvert, or speak with a slight lisp then embrace that. Your speeches will shine for their uniqueness and hold in peoples minds. I have collected a group of keynotes and talks that do not confine to the usual style - good reminders to be oneself. 

Nat Cheshire speaking at Webstock

Tea Uglow speaking at Design Indaba

One of my favourite speakers, Tea has a disarming and excited quality to public speaking that is enthralling to watch. 
> Watch Tea in action at design Indaba here
 

Valentin Ozich at Semi Permanent


Do your research

Pitching for a particular investor? Thank you to the littany of startup and business events globally, there is likely a keynote with that investor hiding somewhere - where they outline what they do and don't like in pitches. Or in the case of this video from YC, a handy how-to from none other than Sam Altman. 


Penned by marketer, writer and content producer Anya - find more of her reckons here

This summer Collider is supporting the Tech Talks series!

At Collider we’re all about developing, upskilling and connecting future tech and digital talent in Wellington. One of the ways we’re doing this is by partnering with Summer of Tech to boost the “Summer Tech Talks” event series.

What’s Summer of Tech?
Hopefully, you all know what Summer of Tech is, but incase you don’t - it’s a non-profit programme that matches IT businesses with the best students for summer internships.

The programme gives students an opportunity to see what the options are for life after study, get some work experience and connect with some cool companies and humans.

Ruth and the team are based in the Welly BizDojo and we think they’re pretty cool!

Summer Tech Talks
This summer Collider is supporting the Tech Talks series!
Tech Talks are weekly lunchtime chats with Wellington IT professionals hosted at BizDojo Wellington. Chats will cover a range of topics including machine learning, coding and VR with experts and local legends like Tim Rastall from NEC.

Tech Talks kick off on Wednesday 22 Nov and run weekly through to 7 February 2018. You can check out the programme and register here.

Who should come?
You, your best friend, your granny, your neighbour, even your dog (we love dogs at BizDojo!)... if they’re interested in tech!

If you’re new to tech or want to learn more about cool tech stuff, this is an excellent opportunity to hear from Welly’s finest and meet fellow learners / peers.

See you there tech lovers!

Before the collision: #1 Another reason why living in Wellington is the raddest

Photo care of Wellington Low Carbon Challenge Facebook Page - click image to be taken there

Photo care of Wellington Low Carbon Challenge Facebook Page - click image to be taken there

You might know about the meetups we support, the events we host and the learning opportunities we create. But what happens behind the scenes at Collider? Our new series, "Before the Collision" is a diary from our Activation Manager Kate Macdonald where she highlights the conversations she is having, great work she is seeing in the community, events and workshops she is attending, and all the things she is learning, seeing and being surprised by in Wellington and beyond. 


10th of November 2017

Hey Collider Community!

I spent Halloween at the Low Carbon Challenge 2017 Finale Event hearing solutions to the tricky problem of reducing carbon emissions in Wellington. What a treat. It reminded me how rad Wellington and Wellingtonians are.

The Low Carbon Challenge, led by our friends at Enspiral, Wellington City Council and PledgeMe, supports six teams of humans with early stage ideas or businesses that will help to lower carbon emissions in Wellington. Over eight weeks the teams are connected with advice, support and connections to help grow their concept into a tangible business.

Alumni from previous intakes include electric car share service (and Welly BizDojo residents!) MEVO and repurpose extraordinaires Misprint Co, so you know this is a high calibre initiative.

Another rad thing about the Low Carbon Challenge is the Low Carbon Partnership Fund - the good sorts at Wellington City Council, BNZ, Powershop and Greater Wellington Regional Council will match dollar for dollar whatever the teams raise from their PledgeMe crowdfunding campaigns.

The teams are now one week into their month long crowdfunding campaigns (links below). Check them out and maybe make a pledge? I’ve pledged to Wa Collective - I share their passion for double denim and puns, and share the view that period poverty shouldn't even be thing.

  • Wā Collective are championing a revolution for the menstruation cycle. They provide innovative solutions to period waste, period poverty and the period taboo. Period.

  • Poly Palace, the regions polystyrene recyclers expanding to combine new and recycled products to create ‘Earth Dingy’ -  a tiny house x earthship.

  • Gurgl are diverting waste, building community and creating income with a clothing library subscription service for baby clothing.

  • Organic Dynamic are expanding their successful business to progress their mission to offer ocean lovers environmentally friendly surfboard options made from recycled polystyrene and NZ timber (did you see Jack at TedX Welly?!, if you didn’t you should totally watch this)

  • Kapiti Biodiesel are building a locally owned, cooperative biodiesel lab, housed in a shipping container that converts waste cooking oils and fats into biodiesel.

  • The Wast-ed crew are bringing together the different initiatives across Wellington's waste reduction community to connect, collaborate and create a city-wide movement towards a waste free Wellington.


I always love to talk to people in the Wellington business community about what we are doing, what we could do, and what we could do TOGETHER! If you are curious about Collider, or have an idea for something great we could do together feel free to reach out via email or over on Twitter