Tag: business

How We Can All #BeBoldForChange

Posted by Sheila Burkett & filed under Events.

I was asked the other day what I planned to do for International Women’s Day this year. The phrase resonating in the campaign is #BeBoldForChange, which moved me to reflect on how I could be bold, make a statement and initiate change.

Many women in the U.S. are taking part in the Day Without Women strike. The thought of me taking the day off as a form of protest causes me stress and would have little impact on those around me. Another option is to take part in the Women’s March on St. Louis happening during lunch in downtown St. Louis.

I believe the best way for me to make a difference though is to use my voice and take action to improve equality for all women.

Promoting Women

I regularly advocate for women by sharing information about their business on social media, making business referrals and submitting these women for awards. My business partner Julia Koelsch and I were recently recognized by St. Louis Small Business Monthly as one of several St. Louis’ Top Business Owners. It was a great honor and we are thankful for the recognition.

Small Business Monthly Cover. We can do better.

Small Business Monthly Cover. We can do better.

When we met the rest of the award winners, one thing was immediately apparent: the group did not reflect the rich multiculturality that makes St. Louis a wonderful place to own a business.

Based on the Missouri Office of Equal Opportunity 2016 report,  there are over 419 certified Women Business Enterprises (WBE) in the St. Louis area and over 130 of those are Minority Business Enterprises (MBE). We should see this diversity in our award ceremonies and panels – yet it is often conspicuously absent.

My commitment for International Women’s Day is to promote all women business owners and nominate them for opportunities for recognition.

My challenge to you is to identify one thing you will do to promote women.

Broaden Networks

Over the years, my personal and professional network has grown. My family teases me when we go out to dinner as I always run into someone I know. Meeting new people, getting to know their story and hearing about their success always energizes me. The reality though is my network is homogeneous (i.e., I have a network that looks like me).

Learning about others’ unique perspectives and challenges – attracting talent that doesn’t look like you, act like you, or have the same experiences as you – helps grow your business and create a work environment that is inclusive.

My commitment is to build intentional relationships with women I meet, especially if they differ greatly from me.

My challenge to you is to go to an event where not everyone is like you.

The Gap Is Real

Julia Koelsch (Chief Technology Officer) and I (Chief Executive Officer) hold leadership roles that are not typically held by women.

In a National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) report, Women In Tech: The Facts”, women find it difficult to advance into leadership roles such as CTO, CEO and board of directors. Only 11% CIO positions in the U.S. are held by women, and only 4% CEOs of S&P 500 companies are women.

The World Economic Forum reports that it will take 170 years before women gain equity across the world. In the US, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 for pay parity and Black women until 2124.

Mentor Women

We can all take action to accelerate this change. Mentoring and supporting women is a great way to help create equality for all women. This includes working with women on how to negotiate salaries, titles and positions of authority.

Julia helps organize and support local tech meetups, camps, and hackathons. She has been a mentor for UMSL’s Women’s Hackathon, which helps college women gain exposure and experience in technology.

Her commitment is to increase women’s awareness and participation in these community resources and events, so that any woman who has an interest in technology has the support, encouragement, and guidance necessary to achieve her goals.

My commitment is to continue our internship programs, including our participation in St. Louis Youth Jobs. I also plan to continue my support of UMSL’s IS area programs, especially their effort to send students to the Grace Hopper Women’s Conference and the Women’s Hackathon.

My challenge to you is to take a child, college student, or adult under your wing and help them soar.

#BeBoldForChange

I am one of those people who wants to change the world, and this is reflected where I spend my free time. Whether it’s raising money for women scholarships, telling my story to encourage bravery in others or making the connection that ignites the spark to help a women’s business take off, I will continue doing my best each day.

But I know the only way I can continue to grow and be an agent of change is to step outside my bubble – being challenged and uncomfortable is the only way I can move forward.

Dispatches From The Spry Hive: Week 16

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

During the sixteenth week of 2015, the Tax-Man came to fill his coffers, but thanks to the likes of George Lucas, Skype, the United Kingdom, innovation kept chugging right along. So enjoy this week’s Spry Hive.

Tech

Jumping right into the week, Monday the thirteenth saw the United Kingdom opposing an international ban on lethal automated weapon systems. How do you feel about the development of autonomous destructive robots (curiously termed LAWS)?

Self-Driving Cars

SOURCE = FASTCODESIGN.COM

While some developers this week have centered their work around technological advances which attempt to harness and control raw power, others have been trying to work out the kinds of the relatively new market of self-driving cars. Unfortunately, developers have run into a sticky dilemma.

For those not interested in holding conferences inside of a moving vehicle or controlling potentially lethal technologies, a company named AIAIAI is revolutionizing the portable audio market. Apparently, their new line of headphones will feature approximately 360 different options for customization.

Tired of both cooking AND going out to eat? Look no further than 2017! According to Factor Tech, the company Moley Robotics is attempting to commercially launch their automated chef, which can prepare about 2000 different meals, within the next two years.

Business

Alongside the never-ending advancements in technology, the sixteenth full week of 2015 provided plenty of news & ideas in the business world.

Most companies, especially start-ups, are looking to perfect and, for some, standardize the methodology and procedure of every process in their respective industry. One can only dream. In reality, it is easy to lose scope of every variable that affects the functionality of a company. Thankfully, there are individuals out there reminding us not to forget the things we’ve already neglected.

Do you feel like taking your criticism of an action against management even further? Then you’re in luck! Romy Misra wrote an interesting article this week, looking into the number of companies that have pushed for the abolition of management all together. Would your business benefit from implementing a similar practice?

Starting a new job and not quite able or willing to bring down the reign of management? Do not fret! Fastcompany.com has provided half-a-dozen tips for quickly assimilating into a company’s culture within the first few weeks.

Apps

Merging the two worlds of business and applications, Skype has announced that they are expanding their service. Marketed as Skype for Business, Microsoft has apparently found the software they need to get their foot in the door of video conference calling. Will you be giving their product a test-drive in your next meeting?

Skype-for-Business

SOURCE = THENEXTWEB

In other news, the medical market is being taken by storm. An app called VisualDx aims to provide an on-site cheat-sheet for visualized diagnosis. While hypochondriacs are advised to stay far from the gruesome pictures, the software promises world-wide utilization by doctors and parents.

Misc

And finally, looking beyond the seriousness of professionalism, we wrap the week up in a category of misfits.

For those of you yearning to, once again, jam out on your plastic rendition of a guitar, your wait may finally be over! Evidently, the developers working on the return of Guitar Hero have scrapped the graphic designs and replaced them with cameramen. How do you feel about playing in front of 10,000+ human faces, even if it’s in your living room?

In true American fashion, our week couldn’t end without at least a little bit of news from the world of Star Wars. Providing even more material for fanatics to hype and skeptics to criticize, Disney released the second official teaser-trailer for the upcoming 7th installment of the series. Is the series reboot living up to your expectations yet?

Though George Lucas’ only attachment to the modern Star Wars world is through living memory, that doesn’t keep him away from the major media outlets. Apparently, the seasoned director has begun the processes of attempting to develop affordable housing in one of the country’s wealthiest municipality. Let’s just say the neighbors and Lucas are by no means working together on this effort.


And so, in what seems like a blink of an eye, another week of innovation, advancement, and news is on it’s way out the door. While the sixteenth full week of 2015 provided plenty to forget, we can now see that the wheels of human activity & development are still hard at work. Keeping an eye out and your head down for the future development of self-driving cars and killer robots, go now and enjoy the weekend! Thanks again for tuning in, and, as always, stay spry!

Dispatches from the Spry Hive 2015: Week 15

Posted by James McDonnell & filed under Tips.

It can be difficult staying spry and motivated with the kind of week the St. Louis area has endured. From 20 inches of hail in the Manchester area to a tornado in Farmington to rain just about everywhere, we have finally made it to Friday. Fortunately, the sun is out and we can all relax as we jump into this week’s Spry Hive!

Tech

SOURCE = Youtube.com

While everyone else was preparing their wrists and wallets for the reviews on the Apple Watch, Netflix was working on something of it’s own. With the debut of the Netflix Watch across the internet, one might think that Netflix forgot the date of April Fool’s day.

For those looking to camp outside the Apple Store for a chance to be one of the first with their new device, Apple suggests ordering online first. The company hopes to curb the crowds and madness often associated with the release of their products.

Where Netflix was trying to bring a little joy to those of us as robotic as the computers we work on, a company called MudWatt is using kickstarter to teach and entertain the kids. Their goal? Allowing kids to create electricity using Mud. Maybe we will think twice before telling our kids to not play in the mud?

Wrapping up this week’s world of tech is a company we are all familiar with; Amazon. According to recent news, the FAA has officially given Amazon the ability to begin testing their drone delivery service. Evidently, in the 6 months it took the FAA to respond to the company’s first request, Amazon had enough time to develop an entirely new system. A system that wasn’t a part of their first request. Like it or not, we could soon start seeing robots at our doorstep.

Development

For individuals looking to break into the C++ world or even seasoned developers just looking for another pool of samples, the website C++ Samples was launched April 6 just for you! They make it easy to find the code you are looking for, breaking the samples into categories like Common Tasks, Patterns, and Algorithms.

Looking to couple this knowledge with a better understanding of source code? Aria Stewart has your back, providing a lengthy post about how to read source code based on a talk she gave at Oneshot Nodeconf Christchurch.

Website performance optimization is an ongoing process, and there’s no shortage of articles on how to squeeze every extra millisecond out of website response time. With so many ways to approach performance, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the basics. This article by Sam Dutton reminds us of the importance of clean, concise HTML structure for high-performing websites.

Web

SOURCE = Engadget.com

In a big win for customers and the Internet in general, HBO has finally released the long awaited HBO Now service. While you can still watch HBO through your contracted cable service, all you need for HBO Now is a computer with the internet and $15 a month. With Game of Thrones’ new season beginning this Sunday, maybe HBO’s new service can help fix the major pirating problem they face.

While HBO is attempting to give customers an option that doesn’t include a $30+/month contract for unwanted channels, Youtube is in the process of developing a plan for customers to enjoy Ad-Free web-based videos. With web-based shows premiering directly on the site and the introduction of companies like Vessel, Youtube has found itself scrambling to keep it’s hold on the market.

On the other side of the web this week, Microsoft and Dropbox announced their enhanced integration of services. Attempting to compete with the all-in-one package that Google offers the working world, you will now be able to utilize Microsoft Office Online with all of your Dropbox files. This includes easy and effective editing, commenting, and saving. Will you stick with Google Drive & Docs, or will you give Microsoft and Dropbox a try?

Business

From innovative operations to unorthodox practices to another merger, the business world has seen some promising changes throughout the week.

Over the past year, venture capitalists have taken the healthcare system by storm, utilizing untapped features of the Affordable Healthcare Act. In 2014 alone, venture capital dedicated towards implementing high-tech programs into the healthcare system rose to $308 million. Compared to 2013, that is a 250% increase from $88 million raised. Compared to 2012, $308 million raised is a 556% increase in funds per year. With the new digital infrastructure being put into place, we can all be happy with the potential for fewer costs and better coverage.

Are you in the market for a new employee? Evidently, Google has gone out of their way to implement more informative interview questions in their hunt to hire the best. Check this article out to see how Google does their hiring.

While Google shares their experience in hiring the best, LinkedIn is on a quest to purchase and merge with the best. Over the past week, news has surfaced stating that LinkedIn is attempting to enter the online education business by purchasing the site Lynda.com. Offering lessons, courses, and workshops about Development, Design, Business, Video, and more, a visit to Linkdin may soon include more than networking and job hunting.

IMG_7333_cropped

As a final note, we would like to congratulate our very own Sheila Burkett. Sheila has been recognized for her extraordinarily hard work & talent in the St. Louis business world. This time around the St. Louis Small Business Monthly has included Sheila in their list of “100 St. Louisans You Should Know.” If you haven’t already, reach out to Sheila and get know her and Spry Digital a little better.


And with that, Week 15 can become another shining star in our collective past. Enjoy the weekend, come back next Friday, and, as always, stay Spry.

Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week

Posted by spry & filed under Entrepreneurship.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a worldwide celebration focused on the innovators and job creators who launch startups, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. In honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the founders of Spry Digital have decided to share something personal about each of our experiences with entrepreneurship. If you are an entrepreneur, please add to the conversation by adding your responses to one or both of the following questions in the comments section below.

Tell us…

1.)  Why is entrepreneurship the right choice for you?

2.)  What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone considering entrepreneurship?

Ken Moire

Why entrepreneurship was the right choice for me:

Two years after kicking around the idea of starting a company and introducing the individuals that would eventually form Spry Digital, I can’t imagine doing anything different. Entrepreneurship is a calling – you can do all of the planning and predictions on spreadsheets, but at the end of the day, you start a company because you believe in your product, you think it will benefit people, and it’s what you have to do.

Entrepreneurship has been the right choice for me because at the end of the day, I know that my hard work has helped another entrepreneur, small business owner or nonprofit make a difference, and that provides a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction.

What is the most important piece of advice I would give to someone considering entrepreneurship:

Stick to your mission, and do not accept failure as an option.


Julia Koelsch

Why entrepreneurship was the right choice for me:

I became a software developer because I like solving problems.  When I was a kid, I was addicted to logic problem puzzles. My love for software development grew from that same desire to apply logic to solve problems.

Risk-averse by nature, I didn’t jump into entrepreneurship right away. But when my partners and I started talking about joining up to start our own company, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to help solve problems that face many smaller organizations. Working with nonprofits and small businesses is extremely rewarding because the impact is immediate and apparent. Starting my own business has given me the opportunity to use my skills and passion to help organizations who are equally passionate about their own mission.  Getting a business off the ground isn’t easy, but the rewards far outweigh the risk and hard work.

What is the most important piece of advice I would give to someone considering entrepreneurship:

Don’t underestimate the effort and time needed to start and grow a business. You often hear about “overnight” business success stories, but few articles focus on the amount of work involved in achieving that success.  You need great ideas and passion to succeed, but you also have to work hard to make your passion a success.


Stacey Lindgren

Why entrepreneurship was the right choice for me:

I have always enjoyed a fast-paced environment, challenging work and the ability to constantly learn.  I also liked stability though, and realized the risks of entrepreneurship. There were two things that tipped the scales for me when considering making the leap into entrepreneurship.

First, the opportunities for personal and professional growth were most readily available to me in starting my own venture. The risk factors inherent in being an entrepreneur only helped me be more fully committed to my goals. Second was the ability to choose my mission and drive towards it with a true and deep passion.  You may find another company that is a ‘dream job’ for you, but often you don’t have the authority to fully outline and follow your own path when working for someone else. Passion helps unleash the confidence in yourself, especially when you know that you are doing the right thing, for the right people.

I am rewarded, literally everyday, with the interactions that I have with my current and prospective clients. Knowing that I am not just doing a job, but adding true value to the world, gives me tremendous peace of mind.

What is the most important piece of advice I would give to someone considering entrepreneurship:

Think about your customer before you ever even have a customer. Understand what they want and need that they can’t get or aren’t getting elsewhere. I also recommend not just chasing the money of entrepreneurship. It may never materialize. Instead, follow your passion with intelligence and vigor and know that the rewards will be there.


Sheila Burkett

Why entrepreneurship was the right choice for me:

When I started my career, the company I worked for was very pro-entrepreneurship. As the company grew, I grew as an individual and leader. Along the way, self-discovery uncovered that my personality was that of an entrepreneur. After 21 years, I leapt into the entrepreneur world.

What are the common personality traits of an entrepreneur? MoreBusiness.com thinks a motivation to achieve, a habit of hard work, nonconformity, strong leadership, and street smarts are all traits that make an entrepreneur successful. John Baldoni wrote for the Harvard Business Review that three key traits of successful entrepreneurs are practical, purposeful, and impatient. In a Harvard Business School article, three professors discuss how entrepreneurship process can be taught. I find that I recognize these traits in myself, and that makes starting and running my own business interesting and exciting.

What is the most important piece of advice I would give to someone considering entrepreneurship:

I encourage anyone thinking of striking out on their own to really understand themselves, their support structure and their financial situation. The ability to motivate yourself is critical, but believing you have something to offer others is just as important. You must have the encouragement of your friends and loved ones, as there are times that self-motivation just isn’t enough. Make sure to have savings you can use without regret and that you are living within your means. My final piece of advice is understand what other people value in your product or service, not just what you think it is worth. Then GO FOR IT!


Leave us a comment below telling us why entrepreneurship was the right choice for you below.