Entrepreneur Report – Lab Connect LLC

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The Company

Lab Connect LLC was founded in 2002. It is a clinical research company that provides global central laboratory services including routine and esoteric laboratory testing, kit building, sample management, bio-storage and scientific support services for biopharmaceutical and CRO clients. The company has a unique combination of state-of-the-art technology, world-class laboratories, easy access to emerging markets and extensive specialized testing expertise, which means the drug development industry can rely on a single provider for all of their central laboratory service needs.

Target market

Its target market is small and mid size biopharmaceutical companies. Its target contacts are decision makers with titles such as Project Manager, Director of Clinical Operations, Clinical Research Associate, etc. with BS, MS or PhD degree, typically 35 to 50 years old, tech-enabled, but not necessarily tech-savvy.

They are disrupting an existing market. The current market size is about 4 billion dollars and the company has more than 20 competitors, including some billion-dollar companies such as Covance, Quintiles, and Quest. But the goal of Lab Connect is to develop a unique, distinctive and memorable brand to effectively differentiate from the much larger, more experienced competition. They want to promote the “decentralized central lab” concept with the messaging of “The world’s local central lab. Global reach. Local expertise”. As the CEO said, Lab Connect should be the “Toyota” or “Crate & Barrel” of the lab industry—connoting a well-designed product with good value. They are striving for a unique and differentiated “look and feel”. Some differentiating factors include connectivity and accuracy, humanness and “high touch” customer service, and high tech yet “user friendly”.

Positioning and Value Proposition

Positioning: The CEO wants to position Lab Connect as the “decentralized central lab” that provides biopharmaceutical companies with strategies for any phase of development, from target identification to commercialization, whether those companies require short- or long-term storage of their samples. He believes that proper sample management is a vital aspect of today’s clinical trials. Because samples may have to be retested for compliance, data or drug-safety reasons, a comprehensive bio-storage plan should be a part of their initial trial outline.

Value proposition: Lab Connect is focusing on taking customizable approach to meet clients’ protocol’s geographic and analytical needs, establishing regional laboratory hubs for site support, building industry leading specialty laboratories, providing unparalleled project management experience, developing innovative sample tracking and reporting technologies and keeping service oriented organizational culture, with solution driven mindset.

Channels and distribution

Since it’s a service company, its current sales channel is direct communications with decision makers of its target companies. They are taking a project management approach. Since the CEO used to work in the biopharmaceutical industry for several years before he founded his own company, he has a strong network in his target companies. He used to list all the primary contacts and let the sales people to call or visit them on a regular basis. Once they acquire a customer, they will have face-to-face meetings and start with project planning and hold routine project team meetings. They also have on-line collaborative tools with their clients.

Their customer acquisition is mainly through word of mouth. Starting from the CEO’s network in the industry, the company now has a stable customer group. Since the company did a good job in improving service quality and keeping a high switching cost, their retention rate is pretty high (around 22%, which is much higher than the industry benchmark). The company’s strategy is always focusing on increasing sales of existing customers. They’ve also tried email and cold-call sales to acquire new customers before, but didn’t achieve as many leads/sales as expected.

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Entrepreneur Report – Nussbaum Group

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Lead by landscape architect Dale Nussbaum, the Nussbaum Group has taken landscape construction and maintenance to a whole new level.   While they do not design the landscapes they do provide the following services for residential and commercial clients: collaborative landscape construction services, comprehensive organic landscape maintenance services, efficient year-round maintenance of all types of irrigation and landscape lighting systems, annual color and container designs and installation, and holiday and event lighting.

The landscape construction and maintenance market is nothing new. The Nussbaum Group however is dedicated to an elevated attention to quality and success. Dale’s experience as a landscape architect positions him as an expert in the process of landscape design and implementation. Adept at speaking the languages of design and construction Dale has his company more valuable to his clients than a typical contractor. At first glance the Nussbaum Group feels more like a design firm than contractors. This is what sets them apart and has allowed them to disrupt the market.

The Nussbaum Group straddles and interesting line between B2B and B2C. While their end clients typically are high-end residences and small commercial spaces, most of the Nussbaum Group’s marketing efforts are directed at the design firms that bring them into a project. These firms ultimately act as evangelists passing the Nussbaum Group on to their own clients where they work together to install landscapes, and the Nussbaum Group continues to work maintaining the landscapes they’ve built.

To reach the firms that bring them into projects the Nussbaum Group relies primarily on referrals and direct contact through office visits and trade shows. These efforts directly reflect their commitment to quality and service. From a branding perspective their goal is to “look smart and appeal to the high design sensibilities of Architects and Landscape Architects.” Quality comes through in everything from their sleek graphics and consistent branding, down to the weight and finish of their paper stock.   In addition to the typical logo and pantone associations to their branding the Nussbaum Group has adopted chocolate as a key element in their marketing.

One super fun strategy they have employed, Dale refers to as “Doughnut Marketing”. They bring doughnuts to design firms around town that they do or would like to do business with. This allows the Nussbaum Group to stay present in the companies’ minds, and it facilitates an ongoing conversation unbounded by the constraints of a formal meeting. As their ability to collaborate is key to the Nussbaum Group’s offerings these conversations are all the more important.

http://nussbaum-group.com/home.html

Blog #4 – Retargeting

Products: I used to shop in Macy’s online store. Recently I just searched for boots on Macy’s website and clicked on the product I’m interested in and stayed on that webpage for couple of minutes. Several minutes later when I logged on my Facebook page, that pair of boots appeared on the right hand side of my Facebook page.Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.33.09 PM

Services: I just joint Marketing Profs as a member and have searched for its online courses. Several days later when I happened to go to gigaom.com to read a marketing article, the online course provided by Marketing Profs appeared on that webpage. Another example is about Marketo. I used to search for marketing articles through Marketo. And an ad asking me to download an article from Marketo was magically showing up on my Facebook page. I’ve also seen many other retargeting examples from online retail stores such as Amazon.com and taobao.com.

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Generally speaking, these retargeting type of ads are distracting, especially when they are showing up on some totally irrelevant website of their business. But they are still effective in my opinion since they do make me more likely to buy and I did take many actions through those retargeting ads. I will download most of the articles from Marketo whenever I saw the ads on other website. And I used to spent hundreds of dollars on Amazon.com through its retargeting ads. The most important reason those ads work for me is because they know my product preference and shopping style through my recent activities on their website. So the products or services they displayed on the other website are either attractive for me in general or what I’m looking for recently. That’s how retargeting ads success – get to know the customers purchasing behavior and meet their demand.

Assignment 2- Philz Coffee

Philz Coffee is based in California specializes in drip coffee. Unlike Startbucks, Tully’s and other coffee houses, Philz Coffee specializes and only sells simple drip coffee; each cup is handcrafted and made one cup at a time at the retail stores. Philz value proposition is very simple: they believe in doing only one thing and doing it right which brewed coffee. Customers can pick from over 20 different coffee blends and the beans are ground to order and then poured into a filter for each individual cup which is very unique for brewed coffee. They use more grounds per cup than a typical drip coffee machine which results in a richer and stronger brewed coffee.

Philz Coffee started in 2003 in a small grocery store in San Francisco but has since then expanded to a number of locations in the state of California. Philz’s coffee has a very strong web presence with a website, facebook, twitter account and a blog post. Philz’s coffee uses videos to highlight it’s history, its humble beginning, the fact that is a family owned small business fulfilling it missions of providing great drip coffee with unparalleled customer satisfaction. Philz Coffee supports the green initiative and fair treatment of workers, regularly holds events on important days such as milk day and MLK day and using it’s website, facebook and twitter account to reach out to it’s audience. It also has an online store linked to it’s website for selling coffee beans.  After going through their web presence on Facebook, twitter, their blog posts and the reviews on yelp, foursquare, quoara and tripadvisor I believe they have been successful in targeting and communicating with their target audience which is young, tech savy coffee lovers in the silicon valley.

Kurbo Health

Kurbo Health is a health and lifestyle tracking and personalized coaching mobile app that is focused on children, teens and their families. This company is similar to our The company has a website consisting of product details, customer evidence and a blog. A Facebook page and Twitter handle have also been created under the company brand.

The company seems to be positioning in the market as access to a top-notch research-backed weight lose and behavioral modification system without the costs but with the coolness factor of a fun phone app for children. It is described as a support to the parent by taking the exhausting disagreements out of getting your child to eat healthy and making weight loss and control an enjoyable and collaborative family experience.

The value of the company, however, goes way beyond the benefits of the app to the parent and his/her family. Being an adaptive app certainly provides the family with an ongoing benefit from an assistant, with personalize recommendations, activities and a social component. Looking at the company’s blog and social channels, they also position themselves as an authoritative voice on healthy family lifestyle, providing editorial content about current research findings, suggested food recipes and even tips and tricks for family activities. This creates a subscription experiences for their target customers, who are likely the mothers in the household.

With the content provided on Kurbo Health’s blog and their social channels, and the way in which their promotional videos are captured, it is clear that the company wants to capture the mothers who are concerned about health and weight control for their children. They certainly give the right focus and provide the right engagement channels for this audience.

Assignment #2 – Droidles

Droidles is a startup company that came up with a brand new product – little robots with social lives of their own, with Mobile Apps connect to Droidles with Bluetooth 4.0. Droidles use mobile link to communicate over the internet. The robbot also features remote control with your phone or programs on your phone as well as audio and amplifier functions.
Droidles is now targeting on the tech savvy early adopters, and positions itself as a social intelligence toy for tech savvy people. Therefore, Droidles is now targeting its marketing efforts on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google+.
Although I believe that Droidles has choosen the right channels for marketing, it needs to increase marketing efforts in the future. For example, its last Facebook post was on September, 2014. Consumers need to read new marketing materials to have the willingness to purchase the product.

Blog 2 – Pet Tracker (Tagg)

Tagg GPS Plus is a GPS pet tracker that monitors your dog’s location and immediately notifies you if they are not where they are supposed to be.

Tagg attached to your dog’s collar and it will allow you to set a geographical zone (eg. your home) with the ability to alert you when the pets leave the defined zone.  It has a mobile app that you can track your pet live, and adjust the settings to the configuration.   This device also tracks the physical activities data and temperature (eg. fitbit) so that you can obtain data for your pet’s health.  The monitoring system is not only for the pet owners but also it can help the veterinarian to identify any potential problem.

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The positioning in the market is clear that they want to be part of the premier product provider for the pet industry, and the revenue model is the subscription (services) plus the initial hardware.   Pettracker utilized social channel heavily to increase product awareness:  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, blogging, and Youtube.  The company focused strongly encourage people who owns the product(s) to share their stores on their social channel and to increase the awareness across the board.

Youtube: over 2000 videos from all various channels: company, personal, retail channels.

Instagram: approx 300 posts and over 1000 followers.

Facebook: +100K Likes

It looks like the company has a dedicated team to do the posting primarily through facebook and all online media channels are pointing toward facebook as the primary page.

This product is not the most inexpensive solution out there for $99.99. However, most pet owners would probably value the ability to keep tabs on their companions far more than this here in the state. It is not only company trying to crack this market open, but it seems to provide an integrated solution to most of the pet owners.

Blog 2 – Beeline Bikes

Beeline Bikes is a mobile bicycle shop which offers all of the traditional shop services, including maintenance, new bike sales, and bike part sales. Beeline requires a scheduled appointment to provide the mobile bike service, but adds convenience by coming to the customer at the home or office.

Beeline Bikes is focusing on their website and social channels to do their marketing. They have a promotional video which demonstrates the service, which has a primary message of convenience to the customer. They use social channels of Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. These social channels are being used effectively to show how the service is being used by different customers, and to create an aspirational message of where one could bike after using the service.

Beeline Bikes appears to be positioning themselves as a more convenient alternative to a traditional bike shop. They do not offer services beyond a typical shop, other than the convenience of showing up to your house. The value proposition of the company appears to be convenience to the consumer by eliminating the task of hauling bicycles to a shop whenever they need tuneups or other services. Beeline appears to be successful in communicating to their target customer. In addition to online channels, Beeline has also partnered with community organizations around bicycling, which will likely lead to exposure to customers in the target market.

Bluetooth Amplifiers – what are their stories?

There are many types of bluetooth amplifiers now on the market. Although the design of these products are different from Hollr (our product), they tell similar stories that we can learn from.

Example: Amphony

” Stream music from your cell phone, tablet or computer to your speakers with Amphony’s wireless Bluetooth amplifier. The BlueFidelityTM wireless amplifier integrates an advanced Bluetooth audio receiver and a state-of-the art stereo power amplifier into a tiny package no larger than a deck of cards. Simply turn any speakers into Bluetooth wireless speakers!”

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Amphony’s storytelling techniques focused on home improvement, educating their customers that bluetooth amplifiers can hugely imrpove their quality of living by letting them connect to any speakers at home with phones, tablets and computers.

Example: Kicker

The kicker bluetooth amplier, however, is telling customer stories about how portable amplifiers can help consumers increase connectivity in special situations. It focused it’s marketing efforts on weather resistance and portability, therefore satisfying the needs for consumers who are outdoorsy and travel often.

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Ruminating on Roomations

Roomations is a website that enables affordable and easy access to professional interior designers for people who want to improve their home. Customers answer a questionnaire that determines their stylistic sense and provides the designer information about the living space they need help with. They select a tier of service ranging from simply getting a few questions answered to receiving high-fidelity visual representations of the redesigned space as well as a shopping list for making it real.

They position themselves relative to other interior design services as very practical. They market the simplicity of their service as 1-2-3 easy and loudly trumpet universally known retailers on the front page of their website to build immediate relatability. Their efforts to explain the Roomation service are phrased to communicate a clear message: “it just works , you can afford it, and you’ll have no problem doing it.”

The value proposition of Roomations aligns very nicely with their positioning of being results-you-can-see practical. They’re practical in pricing value by being significantly more affordable than traditional services. They’re practical in the value of the products they recommend by making sure they are available from affordable and widely known retailers. They’re practical in the service delivery value by providing photo-realistic sketches of the new room before the customer needs to purchase all the items. This focus on practicality is an excellent method of communicating to their target customer. This customer isn’t interested in paying high prices of luxury brands and isn’t willing to pay a ton of money without being absolutely certain their room is going to look exactly how they want it. They want a practical and accessible service.

Positioning Analysis

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Antibody therapy is an innovative technique that uses engineered antibodies to specifically bind to target cells or proteins, which then stimulate the patient’s immune system to attack those unhealthy sections of their bodies. This complicated biosynthesis of modified antibodies will eventually improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer and other inflammatory diseases. Currently, the production of these synthetic antibodies is possible in almost any extracellular/cell surface target. The potential manufacturing of this promising molecular therapy and the high success to fight common illness projected this technology to be a $30 billion dollars market. Making the production of these synthetic antibodies highly demanding for biopharmaceutical companies like ImmunoGen, Inc., Seattle Genetics, Inc., Affimed Therapeutics and many more. 

Alder biopharmaceutical, a Bothell startup based company, has recognized this potential market for antibodies therapeutics and decided to work on a simpler, efficient, and profitable pathway to synthesized this product. Alders’ antibodies production is based on a method that incorporates yeast cells rather than animal cells, which is faster for manufacturing, lowering cost, reducing risk, as well as a groundbreaking approach. “Alder’s technologies allow companies to take control of antibodies manufacturing and timelines”-company’s website. At the same time, Alder is currently creating diverse set of products that have expertise in clinical autoimmune applications and inflammatory disorders. One of the most recent product is ALD518, a neutralizing monoclonal antibody for pro-inflammatory cytokine, which has completed FDA Phase I clinical trials- giving Alder a step forward into this market. 

Concerning marketing positioning, Alder Biopharmaceuticals has separated itself from its competitors and other companies by focusing and offering the molecular synthesis that incorporate yeast as a host cell. As it was stated previously, this technique allows pharmaceutical and clinical companies to decrease their antibody-manufacturing time frame as well as production price. Although, Alder is in their nascent stages as a company, they have identified their strengths and promoted its technology edge to give them space to growth in this multibillion dollars’ market. According to Nature’s recent article, antibodies have emerged as an important new drug class: “Indeed, 18 antibodies are now approved (17 have been marketed, and 1 withdrawn) for therapeutic use in the United States across diverse clinical settings, including oncology, chronic inflammatory diseases, transplantation, infectious diseases and cardiovascular medicine”. Making these synthetic products, engineered antibodies, constitute the most rapidly growing class of human therapeutics and the second largest class of drugs after vaccines. Clearly, Alder will benefit tremendously from clinical applications and therapeutic of antibodies, which allow them to grow and expand. Over all, Alder is promoting their reliable and cost efficient technology that provide value at the highest level. 

Optimum Energy

About 50% of the global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are the direct result of daily commercial building operations. Moreover, in a down economy with energy costs on the rise, saving on building costs can greatly benefit many different types of companies. Another interesting fact is that around 50% of a building’s energy consumption stems from the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC). By optimizing HVAC systems, building owners and managers can save appreciable amounts of money and help their businesses save.

Optimum Energy, a local Seattle startup, set out to solve this problem. As stated on their website:

Optimum Energy was founded to create and market solutions that help building owners and managers optimize HVAC system operations in order to meet the economic and sustainability challenges they face.

Their products are software platforms that help monitor, verify, manage, and optimize HVAC systems performance in real time. They have two platforms that are specifically for dynamically optimizing water-cooling systems and direct digital control variable air volume systems. Furthermore, they have a web-based platform that allows the client to monitor and manage HVAC systems and provide real-time feedback and analytics for benchmarking and maintenance purposes.

As for their positioning, Optimum Energy has done a great job at specifying who their target market is and how they are different from their competitors. For instance, their target market is building owners and managers who are looking to save annual building energy consumption cost and cut greenhouse emissions. Their HVAC software platforms analyze and optimize usage, subsequently slashing greenhouse emissions and generating maximal savings. Unlike other companies and products that optimize building HVAC systems, Optimum Energy takes a holistic approach to maximizing HVAC efficiencies. Their software takes real-time, dynamic data that is interpreted, reported, and managed via their cloud-based interface.

The differentiation of Optimum Energy with respect to their competitors is fairly straightforward. While their competitors generally focus on optimizing specific elements of an HVAC system, Optimum Energy takes a holistic view of the system optimization and offers a convenient way to manage systems and report findings. Moreover, the company founders have many years of experience developing software for HVAC systems optimization. One thing that is not obvious in their differentiation is the relative cost with respect to their competitors.