Buying Influence To Boost Sales Can Be A Solid Strategy For Natural Food Brands

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kateharrison/2016/10/20/buying-influence-to-boost-sales-can-be-a-solid-strategy-for-natural-food-brands/#ba030f254ae0

OCT 20, 2016, Kate Harrison

Walk through BJs or Wholefoods on a Saturday morning, and you will see dozens of people sampling everything from frozen pot stickers to baby food squeeze pouches. In-store demos are great for consumers, but setting them up is costly for companies. When it comes to smaller brands launching new products, the cost of customer acquisition through this model can be prohibitive.

As a result, savvy businesses are looking for new ways to connect with their target demographic, and buying influence is one option gaining popularity. According to Gil Eyal, Founder and CEO of HYPR, a company that “allows you to target and make educated decisions in the influencer marketing and celebrity endorsement space,” picking the right influencers can make all the difference to a product launch. When done correctly, buying influence can significantly lower customer acquisition costs.

Eyal points to one of their clients, Koa Organic Beverages, as a great example of how influence can work well. Through HYPR, Koa chose 10 Yoga Brand Ambassadors — and increased online sales by 500%. Here’s how they did it.

Koa’s Mission:

Koa is a beverage that is trying to lead the fight against the growing sugar epidemic and nutritional deficiency in the US. They wanted to engage with health conscious consumers — and their targeting goes way past standard demographics into lifestyle choices and affinities for specific activities, such as yoga. What they were looking for were thought leaders within the health and wellness space.

Koa’s Marketing:

Adam J. Louras explains traditional in-store demo economics. “In the beverage space, we are trying to educate consumers about our product.  The generally recognized method for education in the industry is through “In store Demos”.  This is where a third party, often a store employee or a company employee hands out a sample of the product in the store, and then engages a consumer with a specific message.  The nationwide average cost of such a demo is approximately $200 for four hours.  We estimate that an average Brand Ambassador can sample and educate up to 100 people during the demo.  So, the cost per consumer at a demo is about $2.”

The Influencer Alternative:

Koa didn’t want to spend a lot of money and they wanted to see real actionable results from the marketing they did choose. They used the HYPR platform to identify 20 yoga professionals who have reached near-celebrity status in their local communities. Each “influencer” with a following ranging from 5K to 200K monthly viewers was given a sample of Koa to try. Koa requested a social media post only if they truly loved the product. In addition, they requested that the instructor hand out the product to their students who were interested in learning more about it. They briefed the influencers about the benefits and uniqueness of the product so they could correctly educate their students and fans.

The Numbers:

As Louras explains, “When we used the HYPR data to pare down the list of Yoga Professionals for our influencer campaign, we selected a group that had a total average cost per engagement that was close to the in-store scenario described above — just over $250. This is where it gets more difficult to compare, but here are the two ways we think about it:

  1. If we use the HYPR data to estimate the “Total Reach” and impressions of content to our target consumers, the average Cost Per Educated Consumer is around $0.04.
  1. If we use Engagement, i.e. the number of likes and comments, questions submitted to our website, etc., to gauge educated consumers, the cost is around $0.54.

So, the direct savings, assuming all else were equal, is probably somewhere between 3x-20x when compared with the $2.00 per customer unit from the in-store demo model.

The Results:

The initiative is still ongoing, but Koa has already seen great success. They saw search traffic for their product double on Google after the launch, and they’ve had a 20% increase in month-over-month page visits. For the month of May, when this project ran, they received 3x the number of product inquiries on their website and direct sales were up 10%.

Louras also notes: “The numbers don’t begin to quantify the intangible benefits that came from this process. If we have done our job selecting the ‘right’ influencer, then they should be raving fans of the product and will continue to educate other consumers going forward. We have already seen unsponsored content popping up on the internet where Koa just happens to make an appearance!”

The Summary:

For brands trying to gain traction on a limited budget, stepping outside the traditional sampling channels can make a big difference. In addition to the initial results, under a program like this one, the company has built relationships with key influencers, who have become genuine fans of the product. By continuing to build relationships with them and their personal fan bases, these companies can get results that far surpass random hand-outs on Saturday mornings.

This company wants to make renting in New York much easier

http://www.businessinsider.com/theguarantors-wants-to-make-renting-in-new-york-much-easier-2016-10

BI Intelligence  Oct. 14, 2016, 11:41 AM

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

TheGuarantors, a New York-based insurtech, has launched a platform that makes it easier for renters to get a guarantor for a lease, Insurance Journalreports.

The platform connects renters unable to secure a lease independently with an insurance-backed guarantor through the Hanover Insurance Group. A common model in the US is to mandate that renters have a guarantor — a person who guarantees to cover the costs if the renter becomes unable to make a rent payment. The concept of TheGuarantors' platform is to improve renters' access to such guarantors, and in turn, to boost landlords' confidence, making them more willing to sign a new lease with the renter. 

It aims to provide a highly automated digital service for all parties, while making it easier for renters to find an apartment. Prospective tenants who need a lease guarantee to meet a landlord's criteria can submit an application and upload supporting documents to the platform for free. TheGuarantors then places the renter into one of seven different risk categories based on their credit score and liquid assets. Approval requires a salary that is around 27x the monthly rent — this is much lower than typical requirements in New York which can be around 40x the monthly rent.

Fees are based on the risk category, the renter's financial situation and nationality — US citizens pay 5%-7% of the annual rent while noncitizens pay 7%-10%. Once the landlord confirms the lease details, renters have to sign a Lease Rental Bond backed by Hanover, and the landlord then secures the property for the renter. Landlords can log into a dashboard on the platform for an overview of their rental activity, and can easily check when tenants' policies are expiring, and how far along each application is. 

TheGuarantors has tapped into a huge opportunity in a huge market. In fact, 64% of New York's housing market is rental. Moreover, rent prices are very high in most areas of New York, which means many would-be renters are locked out of the market because their salaries do not equate to 40x the monthly rate. TheGuarantors can therefore be reasonably confident of high uptake among renters, while landlords are likely to appreciate the improvements to the efficiency of their business the platform can provide. Meanwhile, Hanover gets another distribution channel. 

The global insurance industry is worth nearly $5 trillion, and insurance companies are at risk of losing a share of this valuable market to new entrants. That's because these legacy players have been even slower to modernize than their counterparts in other financial services industries. 

This has created an opportunity for a group of firms known as insurtechs. These startups are leveraging new technology and a better understanding of consumer expectations to increase efficiencies in the insurance industry. Some are helping incumbents deliver better end products, while others are directly competing with legacy players.

Sarah Kocianski, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on insurtechs that looks at the drivers behind the increasing number of insurtech companies, how they are helping or disrupting legacy players in the insurance industry, and where legacy players are innovating off their own backs. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • The opportunity is currently biggest in the US and Europe. That's because these regions have large, very mature insurance industries. 
  • Insurtechs' products and services mostly target retail customers. This includes small businesses and consumers. 
  • Most insurtechs are acting as enablers. This means that they offer products and services that help insurers and reinsurers improve their processes and better serve customers. 
  • Of the main players in the insurance industry, brokers are most at risk of disruption. This is because insurtechs can easily replicate their services and are solving historical industry problems faster than legacy players. 
  • Legacy players are also innovating. In particular, insurers and reinsurers are investing in insurtechs and fintechs working with relevant technologies. At the same time, they are improving their own direct-to-consumer digital interfaces, increasing their disruptive threat to brokers. 

 

Ami Gal: A True Entrepreneur at Heart

http://www.insightssuccess.com/ami-gal-a-true-entrepreneur-at-heart/

One of the most important steps that a CEO must take in order to manage a company, involves choosing the right people to work with. This includes people who will be involved with the company from the beginning, middle and end such as co-founders, investors and key employees. Once, the CEO has an exceptional team together, getting things done is another important step. That’s what a visionary entrepreneur has believed and worked towards. Ami Gal, Co-founder and CEO of SQream Technologies has had a vision to invent technology that can affect various domains to ultimately improve different aspects of human lives.

Ami has 20 years of technology and executive management experience. He has created several substantial new businesses related to high performance and complex data integration environments. Among these successes was Manov, a company he co-founded, which developed massive data-centric call center and CRM solutions. Magic Software Enterprises acquired Manov’s solution which enabled the company to execute a successful secondary public offering for the company on NASDAQ.

Determined Leader of People

He is a true entrepreneur at heart and has learned many lessons from being a CEO and Co-founder of a high-tech startup company. He always made sure that the DNA and foundation of the company is based on good and trusted people with a joint vision and leadership. He was once in a situation when the company ran out of money and a client cancelled a project at the last minute. But it was the determination and collaboration of his with the team that led them to perform tough but necessary changes and got out of it stronger. The culture and the DNA of the people, according to Gal, is key to success. He always believed that with good people, one can overcome the roller coaster of startup life that includes challenges like funding, competing with the world’s giants, constant resource shortage and achieving impossible goals.

SQream Technologies: Revolutionizing Big Data Analytics

Groundbreaking technology always drove Ami and led to create the market leading next generation analytics database powered by GPUs (Graphical Processing Units). He co-founded SQream Technologies in 2010 that provides organizations with a next generation GPU database delivering solutions required for today’s terabyte-petabyte scale data needs. SQream quickly relieves Big Data and complex Analytics pains, while leveraging existing resources. The software can be used as an analytical database or as an accelerator in an existing data warehouse. With minimum cost, hardware and infrastructure changes required, the company enables entities to easily ingest, store and analyze heavy analytical workloads in near real-time. The breakthrough technology allows the power of a full-rack 42U database machine to be condensed into a standard 2U server, delivering up to 100 times faster big data analytics than any other key market player. The flexibility and scalability capabilities surpass existing database analytics solutions by orders of magnitude. Their offers are currently on-premise, with cloud based and hybrid combination to be launched.

Ami is focused on solving challenges that are related to the massive quantities of New Data that is being produced. Web data, event data, mobile data, log data — these are all examples of this new, massively growing data that traditional technology seems to be underdeveloped for, requiring new generation of databases. Having focused on developing a robust technology that can handle the massive scales and performance hurdles companies are facing with their data, Ami and the team are now shifting to a more sales oriented strategy offering a mature, powerful software to tackle those challenges and release organizations from their technological limitations synchronizing with the digital economy.

The firm has tripled its size in the past three years and they are continuing to grow. The opportunities to bring significant value to different human life aspects are growing exponentially and more and more customers are joining the vision. The main focus is shifting the main activity to the North American market. The team is in the process to select the right partners and people to lead the change.

The Flexible Believer of Hard Work

He thinks one must find a balance between persistence and flexibility. “People will always have a dream that they want to achieve and they must believe in themselves and be persistent in order to make it happen. On the other hand, you also have to be flexible enough to change as you go,” he says.

Ami doesn’t believe in luck alone. He believes that luck presents itself when a person work a lot and work hard. After all, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” he says. If asked Ami Gal to describe himself in one word, the answer he gives is “shaper.” He believes in peoples’ and his own power in shaping reality – present and future.

He aims to create a technology that allows to peak into the future, return to the present with valuable wisdom allowing major shifts and adjustments for an improved world.  He believes that we should always remember where we came from, what lead us up to this point and learn from our history. History is a great informational goldmine one can learn a lot from and a fabulous source for shaping the future.

These Companies Are Shaping The Face of Big Data

It's All About Utilizing The Goldmine of Data You're Sitting On.

BY YOAV VILNER Co-founder, Ranky

http://www.inc.com/yoav-vilner/these-companies-are-shaping-the-face-of-big-data.html

SQream

While some companies are building their own data analytics platforms, and others are struggling to reach the best information regarding their business, SQream Technologies provides clients with a database that is leveraging GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) to deliver a robust software technology solving complex big data and analytics pains.

As the pace of accumulated data is growing exponentially, companies are often overwhelmed by the amount of data they need to deal with in order to get the insight and business value they are looking for.

SQream is essentially a technology able to analyze massive amounts of data with minimum hardware requirements and infrastructure changes involved.

It utilizes GPU's, which together with the company's patented technology, result in up to 100 times faster analytics performance on terabyte-petabyte scale data sets.

"Globes" names Israel's 16 most promising startups

http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-globes-names-israels-16-most-promising-startups-1001155051

In addition to startup of the year WalkMe, Globes has named three startups each in big data, med-tech, Internet, transport and cyber security.

Apester is empowering content creators to publish conversational content, and to close the storytelling loop with the voice of the reader. Founded in 2012 and based in Tel Aviv, the company has raised $17 million to date.

10 Israelis making a mark on New York’s tech scene

 

A musician, tech pioneers, content-discovery evangelists, big-data gurus, eagle-eye investors and a kibbutznik with a hot idea for shared workspaces.

By Viva Sarah Press  SEPTEMBER 19, 2016, 8:00 AM

 

Gil Eyal is one of the pioneers of the influencer marketing industry, which swirls together the power of celebrity endorsements with algorithms, databases and audience demographics.

Before cofounding HyPR , Eyal was an executive at Mobli Media, Disney and Dell. Before that he was a commercial lawyer and earned his MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

One of the go-to veteran Israeli entrepreneurs for advice-seeking new Israeli companies, Eyal is credited with introducing the concept of celebrity investments to startups and technology companies – driving 20 million users to Mobli by partnering with 120 celebrities, among them Lil Wayne, Adam Levine, Nash Grier, Austine Mahone, Zandaya Coleman and Stephen Curry.

Eyal said he created the company to “revolutionize influencer marketing by providing tools that help analyze the audience of every celebrity and influencer in the world, as well as automate the ability to run measurable, targeted campaigns, at scale.”

HyPR has its headquarters in the World Trade Center and its R&D in Tel Aviv.

Startup Offers Payment Insurance for Apartment Hunters

http://www.wsj.com/articles/startup-offers-payment-insurance-for-apartment-hunters-1475000792?tesla=y

TheGuarantors helps tenants qualify for units and gives protection to landlords in expensive markets

By

LAURA KUSISTO

Sept. 28, 2016 9:45 a.m. ET

As the apartment market soars across the U.S., one financial-services startup sees opportunity in helping tenants get into units they can’t qualify for on their own.

TheGuarantors, launched in New York in 2014, sells payment insurance to tenants, providing landlords with a guarantee they will be made whole if the tenant becomes delinquent.

The offering is a symptom of a pricey market in which rents have risen faster than incomes and landlords can be picky about the qualifications they demand. Rents have climbed about 20% nationwide over the past five years while incomes have only recently started to rise.

The insurance, similar to the private mortgage insurance many lenders require of borrowers who have small down payments, provides a new level of protection for developers putting up new buildings in pricey markets where the applicant pool might be thin.

It could be a boon to landlords in places like San Francisco and New York in particular because rent growth has far outstripped income gains in recent years. Cliff Finn,executive vice president of new development at Douglas Elliman in New York, said 10% to 30% of the tenants in buildings he is leasing are now insured through TheGuarantors.

Some of New York City’s largest apartment complexes, from the 11,200-unit Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on Manhattan’s East Side to the 1,258-unit Gotham West complex near Hudson Yards, are willing to accept TheGuarantors, the company said.

“It reduces the exposure to vacancy,” said Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, who sits on TheGuarantors’s advisory board. “It basically opens it to another category of tenant.”

In New York, landlords have stiff requirements. They typically demand pay stubs showing that prospective tenants’ annual income is at least 40 times greater than one month’s rent. Tenants also must have credit scores of about 700 or better on a scale of 300 to 850 and solid rental histories. Those who can’t meet those requirements must find a guarantor who earns 80 times the monthly rent—no easy feat as rents keep rising.

TheGuarantors has a lower bar. It insures tenants who earn as little as 27 times the monthly rent and have credit scores as low as 630. The company also takes into account savings and other liquid assets and income earned outside the country. Even the cost and quality of degree a college student is pursuing can offer clues as to how likely they are to miss a rent payment.

The premiums work out to two weeks to about a month’s worth of rent a year, depending on how risky the applicant is. The company, which issued its first policy earlier this year, said it is experiencing its first default.

“We’re taking a little more risk than the landlord, but we’re charging a premium for that,” said Julien Bonneville, founder and chief executive of TheGuarantors.

The company is partnering with Worcester, Mass.-based Hanover Insurance Group Inc., a $5 billion insurance company founded 160 years ago.

For tenants, the product is likely to produce mixed results. It will help some people who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for an apartment. But the worry is that landlords could decide to require the insurance from borderline applicants who might have qualified for the apartment anyway.

Mr. Bonneville, a native of France, moved to New York in 2010 to attend business school at Columbia University. As a student with little income, he struggled to qualify for an apartment. He eventually used the services of Insurent, which was launched in 2008 to offer a similar type of insurance to tenants.

Mr. Bonneville formed TheGuarantors in 2014 and said he now has about 300 buildings signed up. He declined to disclose how many guarantees the company has issued, but said it is profitable.

Insurent remains the biggest player in the nascent market. The company said it is accepted at 3,000 buildings and has issued some 13,000 guarantees over the past eight years.

Xiao Xu, a 25-year-old recent graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, likely wouldn’t have been able to find an apartment without such insurance. Mr. Xu is starting an internship at a New York bank in October but needed an apartment this month. He found a one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side for about $3,500 a month, but his starting salary of $20,000 was nowhere near enough.

He said he contacted TheGuarantors at midnight and got a reply the next morning. Everything was completed the next afternoon, he said.

Without getting insurance, qualifying for the apartment would have been “impossible,” he said.

 

Hypr launches App Blaster to put you in front of 1 billion social users

STEWART ROGERS MAY 16, 2016 10:48 AM

TAGS: APP BLASTERAPPS. MARKETINGGIL-EYALHYPRMOBILE USER ACQUISITIONSOCIALSOCIAL MEDIAUSER ACQUISITION

So you’ve built an app. With over 2,300 launching on the two major app stores every day, how will you make sure people see the digital embodiment of your blood, sweat, and tears?

We have been analyzing mobile user acquisition strategies and tactics for some time at VentureBeat, summarizing the results of over 14 billion mobile ads and talking with leading user acquisition experts. When something different comes along, we take notice.

Enter App Blaster, a new and intriguing app user acquisition tool from Hypr, the influencer marketing search engine and database.

So what is different about App Blaster and its approach?

The tool promotes an app through influential social media accounts. Sounds simple enough, but there’s a twist. It utilizes its network of over 800 themed social media accounts, each of which creates a series of social posts that “blast” apps throughout different platforms. These posts are exposed to as many as one billion social media users who are directed to the app stores to install the app.

For example, let’s say you’ve created a new sports game. Popular social media accounts that discuss athletes, equipment, and sporting events will promote your game to their audiences. Because the accounts are sports related, it is likely that your app will be downloaded by bona fide sports fans, resulting in high engagement.

App Blaster has another interesting element. Hypr’s technology crawls every public social media account in the world and analyzes them to understand audience demographics. That depth of understanding allows App Blaster to select accounts that speak directly to the audience most likely to be interested in your app. I wondered how it determines the best users to target.

“Hypr’s sophisticated engine looks at the follower lists to understand audience demographics,” Hypr CEO Gil Eyal told me. “We look at any platform that has a following mechanism, including, but not limited to, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Periscope, Meerkat, and others. By taking a representative sample of the audiences of each social account, we’re able to compare them to our proprietary database and understand if an audience is particularly interested in specific subjects, as well as generate a demographic audience map for the account, including a breakdown of audience interests, gender breakdown, age breakdown, income levels, education levels, ethnicity, location, and more.”

That level of understanding provides complex targeting and segmentation.

“It allows our system to insert automated targeting into the account selection process,” Eyal said. “By understanding which accounts reach which audiences, we are able to ensure that a larger percentage of relevant followers is exposed to the app. For example, if the app is about basketball and targets teens 15-18, male, in the U.S., it would be a waste to post on a fashion-oriented account that targets females in Latin America.”

Although the company says that campaigns are effective across all platforms, some produce better results than others.

“Typically, the most effective platforms have been Instagram and Facebook,” Eyal said. “Our posts are carried out on themed accounts, thereby giving us control over the content and posting time. Message delivery includes a short video and a caption, regardless of platform. Where it is possible to include a link, we include one.”

App Blaster campaigns are first tested with a pilot campaign that costs $5,000. The system optimizes posts in order to reduce user acquisition costs. Once the posts are optimized, customers can scale increasing organic downloads to hit their rankings or download quantity goals within the app stores. In comparison to other user acquisition techniques and tactics, the per-user costs are low, considering Hypr’s claim of delivering high-quality users.

“The pilot is focused on understanding the cost of installation on our network for a specific app,” Eyal said. “Prices [per user] typically don’t exceed $3, and often go below $1 for extremely high-quality users. There is no incentivizing during the process, and users will most often go and download the app organically from the app store, resulting in a major boost in the ratings, as well as highly engaged users who chose to download the app.”

We know from our research on App Store Optimization (ASO) that paid acquisition campaigns deliver a 20 percent uplift in organic installs. High-quality users become advocates for your app, increasing reach via word-of-mouth and social sharing.

“There are many services that send volume downloads in an effort to drive an app up the rankings,” Eyal said. “From the outset, our goal was to only send extremely high-quality users who will engage with the app, leverage any viral features, and write genuine positive reviews. No one knows exactly how the app store algorithms work, but we do see a major boost for apps that have positive engagement [and] high user ratings. As an app developer, the days of just obtaining a lot of downloads are gone. Apps are measured based on the quality of their users and how often they come back, and we believe there is no value whatsoever in a user who downloads the app and leaves shortly thereafter. Our goal is to generate the highest-quality users at the lowest cost.”

App Blaster is available from today.