This 3D Application is Disrupting the Multimillion Dollar Interior Design Market

For over 25 years, I have worked with design-leading furniture brands like Martha Stewart Living and Herman Miller. I’ve had products in all major e-commerce and mass-market retailers; office superstores; electronics boutiques; and wholesale clubs. I’m not bragging (well maybe a little). I’m telling you this because I’ve been in the design world a long time and that is almost the same amount of time I have been waiting patiently for the applicable intersection of Tech + 3D + Design.

I know the applications are seemingly endless, but getting others to play into that evolution has been slower than I expected. My work with product design and launch sent me into the world of 3D printing, where I fell in love. Sure, it was clunky, and the learning curve has never ended but I could see the possibilities from very early on, and I wanted to be a part of that disruptive revolution.

Common Sense for Business                     

It’s no secret that, in business, a low to zero inventory and local manufacturing model is inevitable because it is most the cost-effective option with the lowest risk. For businesses with the need to 3D model, without manufacturing, there’s also amazing potential. What is so surprising is how many large brands and corporations treat this like a secret. The disruption that could potentially knock them off the throne is massive. Interior Design is experiencing this disruption right now, and even though we are seeing the early years of it’s changeover, we can already see the efficiency. 

Welcome to Your New Room

There’s a new application available if you want to redesign (or, let’s be honest, just design for the first time) a specific room or area in your house, or your entire house. This application is called Modsy and they are using 3D room modeling, along with partnerships with giants like Crate & Barrel, West Elm, and Pottery Barn, to help you create the room or home of your dreams, on one platform, in a cost effective way. Modsy lets you visualize new furniture in your room before you buy.”

What’s the Current Process?

Most consumers are going to Pinterest, Houzz, and a thousand online retailers trying to piece together every single room, on their own. This is the pain point that exists, and Interior Design is not the right answer for everyone. Shanna Tellerman, the founder of Modsy, whose background consists of Google Ventures Investment Team, VR before it was cool, and 3D, felt this pain point when trying to decorate her own home and took action on it.

The Importance of Strategy

This bold founder recalls waking up in the middle of the night, in the building stages of Modsy, almost gasping for air and wondering what they were going to be able to sell people to put in their rooms. This moment of simultaneous clarity and panic made it very clear to Tellerman that she would have to establish strong partnerships and put a team in place to focus on that piece of the business. I imagine this wasn’t the only moment Tellerman experienced, like this, where she had to imagine something that would work for a platform and service that is brand new to the market. No pressure or anything. These moments allowed her to steadily build out each piece of Modsy, which is an important lesson in business.

1.     Pay attention/take note when you feel like “something is wrong”.

2.     Imagine those moments as learning lessons and treat them accordingly.

3.     Brainstorm around those moments on how you can grow your strategy.

Seeing A Vision Come to Life

“I created Modsy because I found myself wanting to decorate but unable to visualize how each piece would fit into my space, without first buying it. I wished for the West Elm catalogue staged in my home, and this showed me a technological hole in the interior design market, along with a 3D solution.”

The reason this application hasn’t been created in the past is simple: 3D modeling was clunky and looked almost cartoonish. That just isn’t the case anymore. Modsy is sleek and dropping in at just the right time to disrupt a design market that is long overdue.

More Application Will Equal More Disruption

My stance, coming into this year, has been that this will be a great year for the tech + design intersection. What I mean by that is, not only will we see more and more really tangible and useful applications for the cool tech and design elements available out there in the world, we will also get to see them come to life. As this happens, steady yourself for market disruption that is more than we’ve ever seen. By this time next year, we will all be talking about how we can’t believe the heavy hitters never saw it coming.

Is Travis Kalanick Planning to Take On Google?

Yesterday, Travis Kalanick (@travisk) tweeted the following description of his future plans as an entrepreneur:

“I’m announcing the creation of a fund called 10100 (pronounced ‘ten-one-hundred’), home to my passions, investments, ideas and big bets. It will be overseeing my for-profit investments as well as my non-profit work. The overarching theme will be about large-scale job creation, with investments in real estate, commerce, and emerging innovation in China and India. Our non-profit efforts will initially focus on education and the future of cities.”

The twitterverse immediately went ROFL because, in trucker slang, the phrase “ten-one-hundred” means “I need to pee.”

Since Kalanick probably didn’t intend his new brand name to carry that subliminal message, what is the true meaning behind it?

NOTE: If you’re not a programmer, you can skip the next two paragraphs.

My first thought was that since “10100” looks like a binary number, maybe it’s code for a number in a different base. However, “10100” is “20” in Decimal, “14” in Hexadecimal and “24” in Octal. Not much to go on there.

My second thought was maybe “10100” was meant to be ASCII which is a computers represent letters and numbers.  In ASCII, “14” in ASCII represents “DC4” aka “Device Control 4,” a non-printable character. So again unlikely.

CONTINUED… So, then, what is the true inspiration behind “ten-one-hundred?”

Simple. 10100 is a shorthand representation of 10 raised to the hundredth power (i.e. 10^100) which, when written out, is so:

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

In mathematics, this huge number is commonly called a “googol,” which is the term that was the inspiration for the corporate brand “Google.”

Therefore, by naming his fund “ten-one-hundred,” Kalanick may be signaling that he intends to compete against Google. That brand interpretation is buttressed by Kalanick’s stated intention to focus on China and India, both countries where Google is not the market leader.

Or maybe Kalanick just needs to pee.

Is Travis Kalanick Planning to Take On Google?

Yesterday, Travis Kalanick (@travisk) tweeted the following description of his future plans as an entrepreneur:

“I’m announcing the creation of a fund called 10100 (pronounced ‘ten-one-hundred’), home to my passions, investments, ideas and big bets. It will be overseeing my for-profit investments as well as my non-profit work. The overarching theme will be about large-scale job creation, with investments in real estate, commerce, and emerging innovation in China and India. Our non-profit efforts will initially focus on education and the future of cities.”

The twitterverse immediately went ROFL because, in trucker slang, the phrase “ten-one-hundred” means “I need to pee.”

Since Kalanick probably didn’t intend his new brand name to carry that subliminal message, what is the true meaning behind it?

NOTE: If you’re not a programmer, you can skip the next two paragraphs.

My first thought was that since “10100” looks like a binary number, maybe it’s code for a number in a different base. However, “10100” is “20” in Decimal, “14” in Hexadecimal and “24” in Octal. Not much to go on there.

My second thought was maybe “10100” was meant to be ASCII which is a computers represent letters and numbers.  In ASCII, “14” in ASCII represents “DC4” aka “Device Control 4,” a non-printable character. So again unlikely.

CONTINUED… So, then, what is the true inspiration behind “ten-one-hundred?”

Simple. 10100 is a shorthand representation of 10 raised to the hundredth power (i.e. 10^100) which, when written out, is so:

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

In mathematics, this huge number is commonly called a “googol,” which is the term that was the inspiration for the corporate brand “Google.”

Therefore, by naming his fund “ten-one-hundred,” Kalanick may be signaling that he intends to compete against Google. That brand interpretation is buttressed by Kalanick’s stated intention to focus on China and India, both countries where Google is not the market leader.

Or maybe Kalanick just needs to pee.

5 Tips on Scaling Successfully

As CEO and leader of multiple early-stage, high-growth healthcare and technology businesses, here are 5 key lessons that have made the difference in scaling profitably and successfully.  As CEO of CRF Inc., a mobile patient/clinician platform for clinical trials, and now at Health Helm, Inc., a mobile patient/clinician platform for self reporting and communications, my toughest lessons have involved balancing:  achieve milestones, demonstrate clinical evidence and impact while stretching resources to achieve results.

1. Listen to, learn from our customers – in our case, our patients and their clinicians

Our mobile software platforms over the last 15 years are designed to enable and motivate patient-reported-outcomes (PRO) or self-reporting.  The Food and Drug Administration has prioritized PRO in healthcare because of better outcomes and health, in large part because patients know themselves best and they pay attention to what they track.  In any business, the “voice of the customer” is key: seeking it, being open-minded to learn from it, even when the feedback is negative or contrary. We constantly strive to gain insights from our patients and clinicians.  What can we learn from their stories? What impact are these things making in their lives? And how can we make a difference? Every team member every day is driven by our patients and clinicians, gathering and analyzing their data and clinical evidence, and applying that to making that difference.  This is basic fuel to scaling our business engine!

2. Build a shared vision

Our company’s vision is to make a measurable improvement in the quality of our patients’ health.  We are a data-and-results-driven team with a platform that produces the evidence demonstrating better outcomes, lower costs and more satisfied patients and clinicians.  The data and continuing analytics, in turn, enable our patients and clinicians – and our company – to learn, adjust and improve. I had the privilege of working with and learning from Bryan Smith, a co-author of “The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook,” about creating a core purpose or destiny for our businesses.  With my teams, we shape our core purpose into a shared vision, and continually evolve it as we learn and gain insight from our customers. Successful scaling requires continual evolution of our shared vision, tracking our progress against the vision, and transparently reporting meaningful results (good, bad and ugly) while growing profitable revenues.

3. Grow a high-performance team

In my last blog, I talked about high-performance teams.  Critical to any successful team is a combination of bright, curious minds, shared passion about the business’ or team’s core purpose, and the right mix of skills and expertise to get the job done.  Our team members share common values, have mutual respect for one another, while demonstrating both conviction and being open-minded to new points of view or data. Especially in rapidly scaling business, we have intentionally mixed a combination of “been-there-done-that,” more seasoned team members and “fresh” perspectives (new to this domain or earlier in their careers) – this combination enables us to move smarter, faster.

4. Deliver operational excellence

Operational excellence is obvious, a “no brainer,” but is a challenge for rapidly scaling businesses.  Clearly mapping each step of the operations, clear roles, accountabilities for us, our customers and any third parties, setting clear expectations and metrics at each step – all are critical to success. Setting clear expectations with our customers – and not overpromising – and managing and communicating continually are keys.  Bumps will occur; we must be prepared for them, own up to our part in those, and fix them quickly. This is where our team of “seasoned” and “fresh” experiences can make a difference: we define what quality and success look like, how to measure and report them, what potential risks and failures lie ahead, and how to prevent or mitigate bumps when they occur.

5. Cash is “king” (or “queen”)!

In all businesses, and especially in rapidly scaling businesses, cash is king. Managing cash smartly, spending where it makes real impact to build value, conserving it for uncertainties – these are the ways to achieve pivotal milestones: with customers, in the market, building assets and value for shareholders.  How many earlier stage companies raise a round of financing only to blow through their cash too rapidly, falling short of value milestones? I have been very fortunate with CFOs, investors and financially attuned team members aligned around making the smartest use of cash.

In conclusion, my balancing these five critical success factors to achieve forward momentum and results is key.

About the author

Pamela W. McNamara — Pam is CEO and co-founder of Health Helm, Inc., a mobile software company supporting Patient Reported Outcomes for Outcomes & Cost-effective care coordination with their clinicians. She was former CEO of CRF Inc., the world’s leading mobile health, electronic patient reported outcome mobile health platform supporting clinical trials. Under her leadership, CRF profitably scaled in the US and globally.  She was former CEO of Arthur D. Little, Inc., and led the firm’s Global Healthcare Practice.  She was President of Cambridge Consultants, Inc. (US). She sits on the Boards of Southcoast Health System (Trustee), Tufts School of Engineering (Advisor), rEVO Biologics (Independent Advisor), and was formerly an independent Director of Omrix Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OMRI), GTC Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:GTCB).  Pam has a BS in Civil Engineering from Tufts University.

Brand Your Product Like Yeti So No One Talks Price

The thing about branding and business is that a lot of companies out there have more friction than they do traction. Friction is a force slowing you down or even stopping you, while traction is a force pulling you forward. The other thing about branding and business is the simple truth that entrepreneurs, innovators, and designers seldom learn how to counteract the friction, allowing the traction to be a byproduct. I work hard to simplify the inner workings of the business economy we live in, but sometimes, those inner workings are complex, and do require thought, planning, and a solid experienced strategy.

I came across a book titled Friction, whose author has clients like Driscoll’s, Starbucks, Fanduel, NFL, and Verizon, just to name a few. This author, Jeff Rosenblum of Questus, and I sat down to discuss the concept of “friction” in business branding, how to generate less of it, and real-life examples of brands who are out there killing it when it comes to this approach and gaining more and more traction.

Removing Friction: A Quick Breakdown of Yeti

The most compelling brands right now are startups (or acting like startups) because:

  1. They aren’t married to antiquated models of advertising.
  2. They don’t use cheesy tactics.
  3. They aren’t afraid to be different.

Rosenblum and I looked at Yeti as a case study. If you know anyone who owns a Yeti product, there’s a good chance you also know how much they love that product. And of course they probably don’t need a grizzly bear proof cooler, but this elicits the imagination of aspiring outdoor adventurers. Yeti isn’t just removing friction by speaking directly to their consumer… they are also removing friction by speaking to who their consumer wants to be, who they imagine themselves to be, while still serving a need exactly where they are. Because of the lack of friction, Yeti disrupts, and their traction is in the form of a die-hard army of brand evangelists who talk about Yeti like it’s their best friend.

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Create Friction or Be Frictionless? You Choose.

The only way you can truly remove friction is to create real value. It doesn’t matter how amazing your promotion or approach is, if your product sucks, it’s wasted effort. Authentic content can only back up and boost an amazing product. As Rosenblum mentioned, “We all love brands who stand for something, but what we love more are brands that don’t waste our time and money.”

Every industry around the globe is being completely disrupted. Stalwart brands are losing market share to upstarts that capture our collective consciousness. Trillions of dollars are at stake, and brands know a new approach is necessary. But most don’t realize those strategic underpinnings I mentioned, and what needs to change. Great brands are no longer built through interruptive advertisements.

Brands aspiring to be frictionless don’t need clever messages or new, shiny technologies. They need:

Creating Connections

So many tech users are craving an authentic connection, and when they get it, they go out of their way to share it with everyone they know. In order to do this, your first focus should be on the “journey” you are creating and making an emotional and rational connection with consumers, at each touch point along the way.

7 Out Of 10 Products Fail In The Marketplace

That tells me that too many designers and inventors are focusing on the wrong things. Billions of dollars is being spent on paid media, which is fine. But more money should be spent on actually being great, rather than just making a bunch of noise and telling everyone you’re great. The reason the failure rate is so high is simple: Products spend too much time saying they are great, and less time on actually being great. Once you flop, a comeback is next to impossible.

What Is Your Friction?

Friction is anything that gets in the way of what you want to accomplish in life or in business. The big things that prevent you from being who you want to be and the small things that prevent you from what you want to do. What is slowing you down? In business, creating a frictionless brand is not an easy feat. It will require careful planning and plenty of effort, but if you get it right, you might just find yourself in Yeti territory, with an unwavering tribe and a future in business.

Four Qualities This Navy Seal Employed to Win on Shark Tank

Along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, in the south-central Arizona city of Tucson, you will find one of the most successful and fastest growing veteran-owned companies of the last three years.  Founded by Eli Crane and his wife, Jen, Bottle Breacher is a multi-million dollar company that has grown from their garage to employing a team of 45, with a generous investment and publicity from the hit TV show, Shark Tank.

In 2013, Eli received a bottle opener made from a discarded .50 caliber bullet as a gift from his brother. It was a fantastic gift, but Eli thought he could make it better with a little paint and engraving. He showed his work to his fellow Seals, who wanted one of their own, and Bottle Breacher was born in an Etsy shop.

Years of training and experience as a Navy Seal helped Eli develop and maintain the qualities needed to grow and develop Bottle Breacher into a profitable business. Here are the 4 qualities that he credits as being the company foundation. 

1. Reconnaissance

The company’s greatest coup to date may be their smashing success on Shark Tank, which they prepared for by studying all the episodes. The team broke down what the judges were looking for and what they were not looking for, and made executive decisions to build up Bottle Breacher’s weak spots. The first item they tackled was branding – a well-branded product is easier to sell and to build a clientele with. This was a simple fix, by adding the company logo to every product produced. After that was implemented, Eli and his team focused on building sales, as they knew that sales performance numbers were key to securing a financial commitment. They bided their time and waited until they had achieved 500k in sales before making their appearance on the show.

Their tactics paid off, with an investment made by Kevin O’Leary, which led to the happy problem of an almost overnight increase in product demand. By doing their homework and performing the needed work to fix the problems in their organization, Bottle Breacher exemplifies the need for reconnaissance in your business.

2. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

Once they had appeared on Shark Tank, Eli and his team had the quandary of attempting to meet over 20,000 orders in a 3-month period. Their machinery capabilities at the time could produce 600 units per day, but this would not meet the demands of the customer or of their investors.

The best way to solve the problem was a change in machinery and in operations. New equipment allowed the team to engrave thirty-six rounds at a time, instead of one, and changing the engraving process so that all personalization was done before it hit the engraving stations, shaving days off the process. These two changes allowed them to bump production up to 1500 pieces per day. Backorders were quickly filled, and they were able to introduce new products during this process.

Three deployments as a Navy Seal honed Eli’s confidence under fire, along with his problem solving and decision-making skills. While he might not have a business degree, these traits proved to be the backbone that allowed the company to survive through a rapid growth surge.

3. Mission Centric

A military mission that guides the lives and actions of thousands of people contains a clear statement of action and the reasons for these actions. It prevents confusion and helps to answer doubts in times of struggle. It’s this principle that guides Bottle Breacher in their everyday work. The mission is to create the highest quality,  gifts and promotional items on the market, all made in the USA, with a vision to support the veteran community. At least 25% of the workforce is veteran, and profits are reinvested into multiple veteran non-profit organizations.

This commitment to their mission draws their customer base, who believe in the goals and the vision that Eli used to build his company.

4. Higher Purpose

Every mission must be guided and informed by a higher purpose, otherwise, the work will crumble when tough times call. Eli believes that his Christian faith is a primary driving force in his work, alongside a deep-seated patriotism. The principles of both inform his daily decisions at Bottle Breacher, allowing him to make the best call in situations. In fact, he credits having the Bible, alongside his business books on his nightstand, as the reason Bottle Breacher exists. His purpose drives his work, resulting in a company that is thriving and giving back to the community.

Think Technology Moves Faster Today? Think Again

Ten years ago hardly anyone had a smartphone. Social media was in its infancy. Artificial intelligence was still science fiction. Yet today all of those things are mature technologies that have become an integral part of everyday life. Anywhere you go you see people using all of them as a matter of habit.

It’s become conventional wisdom to look at these developments and say that technology is accelerating. It certainly seems that way. Nevertheless, look a little closer and it becomes clear that’s not really true. Buy a computer or smartphone today and it has nearly identical capabilities to one that came out five years ago.

The truth is that every significant technology has a similar life cycle called an S-curve. It emerges weak, buggy and flawed. Adoption is slow. Eventually, it hits its stride and enters a period of exponential growth until it hits maturity and the inevitable slowdown. That’s what’s happening now with digital technology and we can expect a significant slow down in the years to come.

Einstein’s Miracle Year

In 1905, a virtually unknown patent clerk unleashed a series of papers of such enormous impact that it seemed to call every physical law into question. Before long, Albert Einstein was world famous and the two parallel revolutions he spawned, relativity and quantum mechanics, would remake the world as we knew it.

Today those papers are collectively known as Einstein’s miracle year and they unleashed a torrent of innovation that is perhaps unparalleled in the history of science. By the 1920s and 30s, physicists became like rock stars, regularly called on to advise heads of state and captains of industry.

By the 1960s the revolution had mostly run its course and the standard model of physics was largely complete a decade later. There were, of course, some details to be confirmed and some rival ideas, such as string theory, emerged, but for the most part scientists’ view of the universe has remained largely unchanged for the past 50 years.

The twin revolutions of physics gave rise to a number of new fields, ranging from radiology and nuclear power to transistors and GPS satellites, but today physics moves slowly. The most celebrated discovery in recent years, that of the Higgs boson, merely confirmed the existence of a particle first proposed back in the 1960s. The heady days of Einstein and Bohr are long past.

A Medical Revolution

Until the 1940s, even a seemingly minor infection could be life threatening. That all changed when penicillin became commercially available in 1945. At the time, it was considered to be a miracle drug and it catalyzed a hotbed of research into new ways to combat microbial infections.

From there things moved quickly. The period between 1950 and 1970 was considered a “golden age” of antibiotic research, with pharmaceutical firms investing heavily. New compounds were being introduced every year to specifically target different kinds of infections and global health improved enormously.

Since then, things have moved slowly and no new classes of microbial drugs have been discovered for over 40 years, which is increasingly becoming a problem in an age of antibiotic resistance. Nevertheless, because these cases still tend to be fairly rare, research funding in the field remains somewhat scarce.

Much like quantum mechanics, antibiotics went from hotbed to backwater after a few decades. What’s hot in one era is generally not in the next.

3 Digital Laws

For the past 50 years, we’ve been in the midst of a transformative age commonly known as the digital revolution, which has been driven by 3 digital laws. The most well known is Moore’s law, which describes how the number of chips on a silicon chip tend to double about every 18 months. Kryder’s law describes an even faster rate for computer storage and Nielson’s law shows a somewhat slower rate for the growth of bandwidth.

The confluence of these trends produced an amazing about of innovation over the past few decades. Every year, new devices came out which were smaller and more powerful. Businesses and entrepreneurs raced to develop new applications that would amaze their customers. At times it seemed like even last year’s device seemed hopelessly out of date.

Now, however, it seems like those days are becoming a thing of the past. Moore’s law will end in a few years. Storage has become so plentiful and cheap that companies are literally giving away gigabytes for free online. We have enough bandwidth to stream entire movies, even on mobile devices, and new 5G networks will give us even more.

That doesn’t mean advancement in digital technology will stop, but like technologies that came before, we can expect it to slow considerably until we can jump to the next S-curve.

Moving Back To A World Of Atoms

The digital revolution was somewhat unique not necessarily because it moved any faster, but because it was more visible. Unlike quantum mechanics, antibiotics and other technological revolutions, the Internet allowed us to access new innovations almost as soon as they were created.

Yet today, things are slowing down. Think about hot new devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. They allow us to use voice interfaces rather than a touchscreen or a keyboard, but don’t actually do much we couldn’t already do before. It’s hard to see how their impact will be anything like the PC, the Internet or the smartphone.

That doesn’t mean that innovation itself will stop — or even slow down — but it does mean that we will have to look to new S-curves to find it. Over the next few decades, we will see an enormous amount of innovation in a number of fields, such as genomics, materials science and advanced manufacturing.

This transformation will not be virtual, but will use bits to power atoms. That will make it far less visible, but potentially far more impactful, than the seemingly endless stream of “killer apps” that we’ve come to associate with progress.