All Posts By

Bill Balderaz

Small business owner.

COVID-19 Grants and Resources for Small Businesses

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Small businesses are the backbone of our community. COVID-19 has presented a unique challenge to small businesses across the country. Many businesses are facing closures, declining revenue, and dwindling resources. 

In an effort to support small businesses, many global enterprises have created funding and grant opportunities to support businesses as they continue to feel the impact of the coronavirus.

Futurety has compiled a list of available grants for small businesses and will continue to update this list as more information becomes available.  Read More

Futurety’s Response to COVID-19

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As COVID-19 continues to spread and dominate the local and national news, its economic impact is devastating. Experts are predicting 32% unemployment and that half of all small businesses may fail in the coming months. As a business owner, you might be wondering how to protect employees, clients, partners, and community members.

I know I am. 

That’s why I’ve outlined what Futurety is doing to protect our employees, clients, partners, and community members during this pandemic. Read More

Doing Our Part During Times of Uncertainty

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Our team at Futurety has a singular focus on helping businesses make smarter, faster marketing decisions using data and analytics. With the recent restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID19 virus, our charge to our community is made clear: Help small local businesses show consumers they are still open for business.

For the next 30 days, we are offering affected restaurants and businesses in the Columbus area a “pay what you can” digital marketing package. It’s critical during this time that local businesses continue to reach customers, in order to drive revenue and retain loyal customers through this storm. We know transitioning your traditional restaurant or other business into an “online-only” operation is not only hard and stressful but necessary.

Affected local businesses need to only provide a payment method for ad spend on Google, Facebook, or another platform of their choice, along with a commitment to pay what they can for the cost of Futurety’s ~3 hours of time to create and manage a simple campaign for a month.  

To sign up, email us, contact us through our online form or call us at (614) 356-7005‬. We’ll be in touch to see how we can help.

As a Columbus-based, minority-owned small business, Futurety is committed to the economic well-being of our local community. At moments of need like this, it’s critical that we as a city come together to support one another. We’re all in this together.

“Get Lit” at Targeting Millennials (in the Opinion of One)

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What are two buzz words that you can’t hear enough of? If you answered Millennial and social media, you’re right. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about these two things, but honestly – they are the today and the future of marketing.

A Millennial (known to some as Generation Y) is someone who was born between the mid-1980’s to the late 1990’s. Some sources say the generation starts as early as 1976 and end as late as the early 2000’s.

Being such a massive generation could lead to some struggles on how to directly market to it. There is, however, a common denominator to the generation – social media.

Here are four things will help you “get lit” in the social media world. You have to be uniqueengage with your “fans,” show your personality, and give back to be successful at targeting Millennials.

Let’s break it down:

1.) Be unique

In my experiences this is the most important quality Millennials look for in an account. They want the brand to stick out from the crowd and have a personality. They want to be entertained. In some cases, the weirder the better. Two Twitter accounts that do this flawlessly are Denny’s and the City of Columbus.

2.) Engage with your “fans”

Millennials want to be noticed, they yearn for attention. But in today’s world, you have a limited window to engage until they move on. You always want to keep your brand at the top of their mind, which isn’t a small task. You should engage with your fans daily and respond to any inquiries or comments almost instantaneously. Again, the City of Columbus does this well. So does Wendy’sChipotleJimmy John’s, and many other restaurants.

3.) Show your personality

Okay, now you’re thinking: “Didn’t you already say be unique?” When you think about the root personality of a brand, what do you think of? If you answered the people, you’re correct. Millennials want to know the people behind the brand. They want to know the brand cares about its employees and people love working there. Let your people do the talking with their jokes, smiles, and social engagement. Show company outings, costume contests, awards and promotions, etc. We think we do a pretty good job of that, give us a follow on Twitter!

4.) Give back

Millennials want to know their money is going to a good cause. This generation, more than any other, cares about helping others and the world. They want to know your brand has a soul and is willing to share its profits with different charities and communities. Millennials are willing to pay a little more just knowing the money is going to a great cause. Don’t be afraid to show you’re helping others and really making your mark in the world.

Have questions, comments, or just want to tell me your favorite brands? Contact Futurety today!

The Two Faces of Innovation

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Traditionally, there are two main methods organizations use to develop new innovations: internal and external. I’m going to dive into each and give real-world examples, and I hope this may inspire you to think differently about the possibilities of innovation in your organization.

Internal Innovation
One method to develop new products, services, and strategies is through internal innovation. With internal innovation, a company acquires funds, then sends a group of highly-qualified people to a deep, dark laboratory for the development phase. The development phase focuses on research, whiteboarding, building, and testing their inventions and hypotheses until they have a working product, service, or strategy. Then it is passed on to the organization’s marketing and sales teams to form the best strategies to take the innovation to market.

External Innovation
The other method to develop new products, services, and strategies is through external innovation. With external innovation, the developing company works directly with consumers outside the organization, and they continue to develop through the proceeds of limited or unfinished versions of the final vision. External innovation allows the end user to participate in the development process from start to finish and allows for constantly evolving development, marketing, and sales cycles based on public interest in the innovation.

Big-Picture Examples
Two great big-picture examples of internal innovations are cars and phones. Scientists sit in laboratories and do their best to innovate vehicles with the safest crash-test ratings and smartphones with the most foldable screens. They’ll continue testing and innovating as long as the funding organization keeps cutting checks.

Great big-picture examples of external innovations are flight and the internet. The Wright Brothers used the proceeds from their bicycle shop to effectively develop the most advanced bicycle of the time, one that could even fly. Similarly, the internet was initially developed through the proceeds of academic and big business organizations interested in cataloging and communicating at expedited speeds. Internet innovations and infrastructure continue to be developed as long as the consumers that use it keep cutting checks.

Real-World Case Study
Both methods of innovation have worked in the past and will continue to work in the future, but one of the most exciting internal innovation vs external innovation competitions happening today is between Google and Tesla and their race to develop better-than-human self-driving vehicle technology. Both Google and Tesla are light years ahead of any other competitor in regards to total data collected, but they have gone about collecting that data in very different ways.

Google’s self-driving technology began development in the labs and parking lots hidden away on Google-owned property. The company’s self-driving technology depends on lab-developed innovations in three-dimensional space mapping, as well as limited real-world vehicles on public streets. As of 2018, Google has used this and other technology in their labs to simulate over 5 billion miles of autonomous driving.

In comparison, Tesla’s self-driving technology began development on public roads and streets across America. The company’s self-driving technology depends on monitoring real-world drivers and driving habits. Each and every customer-owned Tesla on the road is sending data back to Tesla HQ, and with each new car sold, there’s yet another source of data. As of 2018, Tesla drivers have logged over 5 billion fleet miles driven.

Will Google’s internal innovation strategy and brilliant laboratory minds carry them to the top, or will Tesla’s external innovation strategy and growing feet of consumer drivers beat them to the punch? Only time will tell.

For more reading on Google and Tesla’s very different approach to self-driving car innovation, check out this article from the Verge.

At Futurety, we use external innovation to develop full-functioning automated marketing strategies for Fortune 1,000 companies and public organizations that want to be the first. Combining marketing automation tools and advanced data analytics, we are building programs that engage consumers how they want to be engaged, all with a small, nimble team of engineers and strategists. Want to learn more about how your organization can start building the innovations of the future with us? Contact Futurety today!

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Consumer Trained Algorithms: Why You Are Already Working for Google, Tesla and Dozens of Other Organizations

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Mark and Huckle are quite the pair. For those of you who have not met them, Mark is one of Futurety’s data scientists and Huckle is our resident machine learning agent, or as I like to call him “super awesome fancy computer”.

Mark works hard every day training Huckle on behalf of our clients so those clients can use machine learning and artificial intelligence in their organizations.

A look inside Huckle, Futurety’s Data & Machine Learning Powerhouse

For example, Mark could show Huckle thousands of images and x-rays of healthy shoulders and teach Huckle that these are “healthy shoulders”. Then he can show Huckle thousands of bad shoulders and teach Huckle that these are “bad shoulders”. Pretty soon, Huckle can tell healthy shoulders from bad shoulders, even if he’s never seen that particular x-ray and Mark is so proud and he’s not crying he just has something in his eye.

There are several other ways of training Huckle. Huckle can analyze millions of emails and get the equivalent of a catnip treat from Mark when an email recipient opens an email. Huckle can get a big ol’ belly scratch when a recipient makes a purchase after clicking a link in an email.

Finally, Mark can feed Huckle a bunch of information and let Huckle figure out an answer. For example, if a real estate developer is trying to decide whether to build luxury homes, family homes or retirement housing in various zip codes, Huckle can cluster information like age, income, and marital status to help determine what homes to build and where.

One limitation with all of this is that Mark is just one guy. And even with 100 Marks, there is a limit to how much Huckle can be trained.

Unless…

What if the very consumers of your product also become its trainers? What if you could have real people, in real-world scenarios constantly training your product?

Welcome to the age of Consumer Trained Algorithms. Since 2015, Google has talked about Rank Brain, an AI platform that makes search results more relevant. Does Google do anything as tacky as survey us on how happy we are with our search results? No way. However, when we click a result, and spend 2 minutes on the site and make a purchase, we’ve just reinforced a good experience. When we click a link, spend three seconds on the site and change our search terms, we have likewise trained the algorithm. Multiply that by a billion searches a day and we can see how Google can start to think like a person.

It’s been said that when one Tesla car learns something, all Teslas learn it. We contend that Tesla isn’t a car company. It’s not a battery company, it’s a custom neural network… essentially a giant brain of the world’s infrastructure.

It’s also been said that Tesla loses around $15,000 per car sold. Flip this thought and think more along the lines of “Tesla is paying us $15,000 each to map the roads and highways you drive.” Ultimately, we are the Mark to Tesla’s Huckle. We train the algorithm.

Facebook, Apple, you name it, they can all be thought to be doing the same thing.

I happen to fall on the side of the automation debate that believes automation is a good thing. Automation will empower us to solve more of the world’s problems and we only create a better user experience for ourselves and for others when we train technology to adapt to human needs. We don’t pay a monetary fee to use Google or Facebook. We pay less for a Tesla than we should because in exchange we help develop the technology.