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Written by Pat Rabbitte

With millions of people around the world remaining unbanked, are any inroads being made to bring about financial inclusion? After last week’s Pioneers conference, 150sec spoke with Geoff Prentice of fintech startup, Oriente to consider the possibilities.  

According to the World Bank, 1.7 billion people remained unbanked in 2017.  By unbanked, we mean people who remain without an account at a financial institution such as a bank or through a mobile money provider.  South East Asia has a population in excess of 650 million people. And yet, a startling 70% of its inhabitants remain unbanked.

Oriente was established in 2017 with some serious pedigree behind it.  Prentice himself was a co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at telecoms application specialist, Skype.  Alongside Prentice was Hubert Ti – formerly Chief Technology Officer at Chinese peer to peer lending platform, Lufax.  Longstanding investor Lawrence Chu was also one of the founding trio.

Last November, the company raised $105 million – representing one of the largest initial stage funding rounds in the fintech industry.  Oriente has expanded in the market by investing in ventures that focus on the mobile platform in the Philippines through Cashalo and Indonesia with the establishment of Finmas.  The model being pursued means that anyone can install the respective app on their smartphone, complete a loan application and receive the outcome of a decision to finance within minutes.

Credit check via AI technology

Conventional means of assessing creditworthiness rely upon historical credit data.  Such an approach is not appropriate when dealing with consumers with little if any past credit history.  Artificial intelligence facilitates financial institutions in scoring the creditworthiness of potential borrowers using alternative data sets.  In particular, online behavior can be assessed – specifically what borrowers purchased on e-commerce sites, their social media posts and internet activity.   AI systems have been developed to assess candidates and their ability to pay using this methodology.

Geoffrey Prentice, co-founder of Oriente. Image courtesy: LinkedIn.

Geoffrey Prentice acknowledged the relevance of AI-based assessment when it comes to Oriente’s assessment of borrow creditworthiness: “We firmly believe that alternative data has the potential to unlock enormous economic value!  Only 31% of the adult population globally is covered by credit bureaus.”

The AI-based system that Oriente employ relies upon social connections, location data, and personal identifiers.  Such indicators are sufficiently effective as to act as a replacement for traditional financial data, claims the company.  

In the words of Prentice, Oriente technology uses “non-traditional data to build financial identities – introducing millions of underserved consumers to the formal economy”.

A nascent market in need of regulation

When locked out of the traditional banking system, the unbanked often have had to resort to loan sharks and pawn brokers.  Whilst the standards of these businesses vary, they can often veer towards the unethical.

In China, for example, the pawnbroking industry has enjoyed rapid growth in recent times.  However, a typical pawn broker could charge a 24% annualized interest rate, with outlying cases in excess of 30% annual interest.  

Reports from one of Oriente’s markets – Indonesia – doesn’t paint a rosy picture in relation to the sector as a whole.

According to the South China Morning Post, Indonesia has adapted to the digital world when it comes to micro-financing and online lending services.  However, it cites exorbitant interest rates and aggressive debt collection methods as a regular feature of the sector there.  It would appear that whilst digitization can provide more options for the unbanked, regulation in the sector is necessary.

More reliability of financial services comes at a price

It’s early days for digital peer to peer and online financing platforms but it still remains to be seen if they can improve these circumstances for the unbanked in terms of the cost of finance.  

Oriente’s Philippines-based business – Cashalo – was advertising a fixed monthly interest rate of 4.95% at the time of writing. While loans are short-term, this would theoretically be close to 80% compound annual interest rate.

That said, as the Skype co-founder pointed out, the nature of the business involves mitigating risk and with fraud being a larger challenge than normal, that all has to be priced in.  

“Our rates for our pioneering O2O (online to offline) consumer financing or digital credit solution range from 0-4%”, explained Prentice. “The technology infrastructure we have developed is designed to mitigate risk. In these markets the biggest challenge is actually fraud, not delinquency.”

It is important to make the distinction between credit solution companies such as Oriente and social initiatives based on microcredit. While both are aimed at the ‘unbanked’, microcredit took off in the 1980s on a wave of hopes to help lift people at the bottom of the pyramid out of poverty.

A Nobel prize for economist and social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus and several decades of discussion on its effectiveness later, microcredit remains an overwhelmingly publicly subsidized instrument to help improve the lives of the poor.

Oriente, on the other hand, raising more than a hundred million US dollars from investors, has a clear profit objective. The company targets what Prentice calls the “aspiring lower-middle class”.

“Our data from millions of interactions shows that the majority of our consumers are young working women buying household items and microentrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses”, he explained.

Digital payment solutions do not necessarily alleviate difficult financial situations, nor the poverty traps that many of the “unbanked” are finding themselves locked into.  Yet it can help to make the lives of millions of customers easier by making access to credit more convenient, safe and reliable.

The post How Artificial Intelligence is helping bank the unbanked appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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The phrase “a penny for your thoughts” comes from a time when the British penny was worth a significant amount, and the implication is that you’re willing to pay money to know what someone is thinking. While a penny might now be worth less than the material it is made with, our thoughts and our opinions are just as valuable as ever.

Online quizzes have become a major tool for businesses to connect with their users. According to Power Digital Marketing, quizzes can drive as much as 3x more clicks from cold traffic than a blog post.

Startups are now using the power of quizzes, either to reach potential customers or to help businesses navigate this new digital terrain. Riddle, is a startup that describes itself as “the web’s best quiz maker,” with clients such as the BBC and the Chicago Bulls. Its service uses 9 types of quizzes and automatically sends out personalized emails with offers based on each user’s quiz results.

To get a better understanding of the company and this industry as a whole, we spoke with Boris Pfeiffer, CEO and Founder of Riddle.

1) Why was Riddle created and what is its mission?

You could say that the idea for Riddle was born way back in 2004, when Mike and I worked at Tickle.com – a pioneering quiz site that was the 26th largest website in the U.S. Tickle achieved this growth by being completely editorially-driven – their team of writers created a huge selection of quizzes and personality tests.

Being on the ground floor of Tickle’s meteoric rise meant we learned so much about the hows and whys quizzes work, especially delivering engagement and leads for our brand partners.

Tickle was just the start of our journey; it was sold to Monster.com for over $100 million – to help Monster use quizzes to power their users’ career searches. We both continued to work at Monster, running the Tickle’s operations in Europe as well as the Monster ad sales team.

Fast forward to 2014, and we saw that Buzzfeed was growing very large – around very similar quizzes and other content we used to create with Tickle.

Mike and I got together again with some of our old team from Tickle – to put all our expertise into designing easy to create quiz tools, so that every website could become their own Buzzfeed.

Rather than creating another consumer destination site and go head to head with the likes of Playbuzz or Buzzfeed, we went in a different direction. Our team designed an intuitive set of white labelled and highly customizable quiz tools to allow bloggers and publishers to create and embed quizzes in any website or blog.

From past experience, we knew that quizzes work really well to engage users, get new traffic through social sharing, increase time on site, and (most of all) are powerful lead generation tools.

Our mission (and passion) is to continue to offer the best possible tools to create and embed quiz content on any site – so anyone from big brands to small bloggers benefit can engage their audience, qualify potential customers, and grow their business.

2) What was the primary motivator to solve this problem, for example, did it arise from personal experience or something you recognized others having issues with?

Besides the above, working with top brands with Tickle on quiz-related campaigns, we learned firsthand just how well quizzes perform when it comes to generating leads, engagement, and social shares. Quizzes offer opt-in rates of up to 40% (20X the average lead generation placement), dwell times of up to three minutes a quiz, and are some of the most viral content around.

Looking at the market, we couldn’t find any tools available that deliver these capabilities for our own needs. We’re big quiz geeks, so we built Riddle.com – so anyone can build their own high-performing, highly customizable quizzes for any business, from small blogger to larger publisher.

3) Sometimes entrepreneurs like to use analogies when describing an idea that is novel or innovative, is there an analogy you use or one that comes to mind when describing Riddle?

Enable the power of Buzzfeed for every website

4) Are there competitors operating in this space and how do you differentiate yourself from them?

There are quite a few out there by now – quizzes are becoming increasingly recognized as powerful lead generation and audience engagement tools.

Many companies who started around the same time we did are moving more into storytelling (like apester.com, playbuzz.com). We’ve seen others like qzzr.com move into the super high-priced enterprise space – with prices of $10K per month for their tools.

Apart from the amount of different interactive formats, another key difference is that we believe in not limiting the number of leads you can collect or the number of quizzes you can build in any of our plans.

We have very detailed comparisons between Riddle and the main competition here.

5) Where do you see Riddle in 3 years?

We will continue to improve our tools to offer a complete set of best of breed tools for surveys, polls, quizzes and personality tests. Our vision is to be a one-stop provider for your entire quiz marketing needs, including automated email sequences based on quiz answers and tools to build segmented audiences. We will continue to add big brand names to our portfolio and become the gold standard for quizzes, polls, surveys and more.

6) What is the most bizarre/ interesting quiz a client has created?

I wish I could answer this, but as we take privacy and GDPR very serious, we have zero access to what our customers are creating and are not monitoring our customers’ quiz content.

7) In the recent Cambridge Analytical scandal, it was discovered that data was harvested using a Facebook quiz. Since this scandal have you seen a decline in quiz participation among users and how does Riddle assure users that their data is safe?

We have not seen a decline in quiz participation. Riddle is GDPR compliant and we will never access our quiz creators data or gain access to the quiz takers data. We are not in the business of data aggregation or selling data. We also ensure that we never track any end user taking a quiz or place any kind of re-marketing pixel in a quiz.

The post Riddle, the startup turning quizzes into “powerful lead generation tools” appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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On May 10, Creadits was named a select creative solution provider, trusted by Google, to provide best-in-class assets for App campaigns. The announcement was made at Google’s annual developer conference, I/O 2019.

Over $195 billion in mobile app revenue will be generated in 2020, up from $88 billion in 2016. The mobile app industry has matured, and the focus has shifted from novelty to innovation and long-term profitability.

The app space is getting increasingly competitive and creative excellence has become the critical differentiator. Google has established a set of products, formats, and best practices designed to standardise and improve app ads. Google’s App campaigns will do the hard work of finding the right users and testing creative combinations to show them the most relevant ads. Advertisers can then focus on creative excellence with the help of trusted partners like Creadits.

Kazu Takiguchi, CEO and Founder, Creadits noted, “Creative assets are a critical lever for control and targeting.

“Two key components exist for advertisers to fully leverage Google’s App campaigns. It is essential to provide a whole creative stack of different formats, including static images, 2D videos and HTML5 ads. However, that will not be enough. The key to driving performance on a consistent basis over an extended period of time is to continuously update the entire creative stack with new creative assets.

“Many advertisers face constraints in building new creative assets to refresh their campaigns. They lack the manpower, the creative expertise, or the necessary insights to develop a portfolio of assets that can speak to the diverse and evolving tastes and needs of their customers.

“Creadits partners with advertisers by offering the design services and knowledge of our global network of artists and marketers. We can help you create high-quality and targeted assets across the entire spectrum of app ad formats that run on Google’s inventory. By providing a consistent flow of creative assets, advertisers are able to refresh their Google App campaigns continuously with ads designed to cater to the different goals and tastes of different groups of users, which is the key to drive performance.

“Creadits brings a global perspective to the table. We see what works in almost every geography and vertical in the world. Over the last 4 years, Creadits has had a direct hand in defining global best creative practices across every category of mobile apps.

“We will continue to build, train and shape our creative hubs in the Americas, Europe and Asia to support our clients. We are excited to extend our partnership with Google from YouTube to App campaigns.”

The post Google is launching a partnership with Creadits to provide end-to-end creative services for app marketers. appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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What’s not to love about freelancing? Being your own boss and setting your own hours has long been the pinnacle of employment. And yet, it’s not so simple. While more and more Americans turn to freelancing – with more than half of Millennial Americans currently freelancing – that does not mean it is easy to secure contracts and make it worth your while.

This is especially so in the field of web developing, where workers require the right skills and motivation to progress in the online industry. There’s just no denying that writing proposals can take an ungodly amount of time and contribute to burnout in the longer term. So, let’s dig a little deeper to discuss the best – and worst – parts of being a freelance web developer, and what workers are best advised to do about it.

The best of times

The internet and shifting cultural norms have made working outside the office not only possible, but normal – and it is easy to see why freelancing only grows in popularity every year.

Setting your own hours, working remotely, selecting projects of interest and generally being your own boss translates into worker autonomy. And when employees feel empowered to make decisions about their work, they generally feel more positively about it. Take the fact that 79 percent of freelancers report that it is better than traditional work. These workers typically feel more respected and engaged to start each day – and this probably has to do with them working four hours less every week than the average office worker.

Studies also show that freelancers are more likely to participate in skill-related education and training. So, freelance web developers work less, have more say, control their hours and do not even need to leave the house. What’s not to love? Well, just because it is a good arrangement does not mean it is perfect.

The worst of times

Not all that glitters is gold – and prospective freelance web developers shouldn’t think that the journey to online success is an easy one. For example, it’s very time-consuming to submit proposals, work for clients, and strategize on how to grow your business. If you want free time to do things you love, then you will eventually want to hire a team to lighten the workload.

Build your team to do the things you do not want to do. If you love building websites, fixing bugs, implementing new features, or other types of projects, then keep doing those. But marketing, sales and other elements might be better handled by other people. However, this may not be possible at the start and will likely take a percentage of earnings from the work you do complete.

Also likely: serious burnout. If freelance web developing is your full-time job, then you need to make sure you’re paying the bills. It can be quite frightening when you have two weeks left in the current month to make enough money to pay the next month’s bills. Then there’s the money you need to pay for Google Ads, direct mail marketing to select clients, and special gifts for prestigious clients.

Where’s the rent money coming from? Or food money? Coming up with solutions to these problems requires some serious out-of-the-box thinking, and it will burn you out. Business is war and freelancers should remember that. However, with experience, workers should eventually find that things grow increasingly smooth, and you might choose to have the company you build exit for some nice profit.

What to do about it

There are two sides to every story – but the important thing is to be prepared for negatives. Have a marketing plan in place, even if you’re working through an existing marketplace. You need to attract clients to you. With existing marketplaces you’ll be vetted against other freelancers, and if you work outside of a marketplace, you’ll need to dump a lot of cash into marketing efforts to build your client base.

My top tip: If you just learned how to write software, be honest about it. Just like anyone starting out, you’re not the best, you’ll be inefficient, and you’ll need to let clients know that the reason you’re not charging much is because you need to practice. If the client wants quality code and will pay for it, they won’t shop with you. If they don’t have a lot of money then they might be willing to work with you knowing that your work isn’t going to be the best.

When just starting out, you’ll be the $10 per hour coder, but your benefit will be honesty instead of promising clients the moon and stars like so many others who charge the same rate. Once you’ve spent at least five years working as a software engineer, there’s no reason why you can’t charge $50 or more for your services.

Clients will want you to prove yourself to them which is quite exhausting, and while you can show them your GitHub, not many clients will understand what’s in it. To bypass the fact that you currently need to prove yourself to all and sundry, you’ll need to skip the hiring process by proving yourself to a marketplace or agency that prescreens the contracts for clients.

In short

Marketing is the one thing that will make or break your business, and it’s brutally expensive. That’s why it’s best to start out with a marketplace to get some cash flow coming in.

Never lie to clients or mislead them to believe your entry-level skills will give them the best possible product. In the beginning you must offer clients lower rates and be honest about your skill set. You’re not the best, and they need to know that. Everyone starts somewhere.

The good certainly outweighs the bad when it comes to freelance web developing. The most important part for anyone coming into the field is continual “upskilling” and working smart. This job can be hell if the freelancer works hard and not smart. There are plenty of time-sucking elements to this type of employment and anyone coming into the industry needs to work out the most efficient way to get the job done and get it done right.

Rick Mac Gillis, the author, is the CEO and founder of software engineering for Dragon Cloud, a service connecting high-quality clients with high-quality candidates.

The post The best — and worst — of being a freelance web developer appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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They say there is a silver lining in every situation, and while Trump’s immigration approach has been bad for America, it has proven to be a fortuitous gift for Canada. A recent Washington Post article claims that Trump’s immigration policy has made Canada a more appealing option for entrepreneurs.

In 2017, TechCrunch highlighted Canada as North America’s up and coming startup center. And when you look at the country’s major hubs it is not without merit.

According to a recent article in The Next Web, Toronto has solidified its reputation as a global center for AI, thanks to a $5 million investment by Google into the Vector Institute last year and an aligned buy-in from the city’s academic, government and corporate sectors.

The startup ecosystem of Toronto is undeniably impressive; however, alongside the capital many major cities are blossoming as centers of technology and entrepreneurship. For example, according to Forbes, Edmonton and Montreal have become centers of AI excellence alongside Toronto, with strong support from the government.

But there is another city which really stands out in Canada.

According to Ramin Behzadi, a partner of 7 Gate Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Vancouver, Canada, “With easy access to the US and Chinese market and close proximity to Seattle and San Francisco, Vancouver has also ranked 7th in market reach, continually luring businesses for its strategic location. It woos entrepreneurs too for its startup costs, earning the distinction as the cheapest place in North America to launch a tech company.”

Investor Ramin Behzadi

“But there’s more to the story. There are three factors contributing to the tech scene’s ascent. First of all, there is an exceptional pool of tech talent. Secondly, there is consistent government support. And lastly, Vancouver showcases a symbiotic system.  Leftover expertise and capital following acquisitions are frequently recycled back into local ventures,” the investor added.

Vancouver has proven to be a breeding ground for top tech and entrepreneurial talent. Not only is it located directly above Silicon Valley, but it also holds some of the country’s top universities such as the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Victoria.

The Washington Post recently reported that “Trump’s immigration policy has foreign tech talent looking north of the border.” The more rigid restrictions around H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers have meant that many of the best and brightest – those that might have gone to Silicon Valley or other big US hubs – are looking to Canada.

British Columbia, and Vancouver in particular, have rolled out the welcome mat. The government has initiatives to expedite visas and private organizations like True North are working to bring workers here.

Canada’s government already offers support in the form of federal funding options such as the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). The federal government is offering these and other initiatives to provide funding – and the city of Vancouver supplements that with a $100 million tech fund.

Consistent government support and an ever-deepening talent pool are enough to convince the market that Vancouver’s best days lie ahead. The result is an ecosystem that keeps getting stronger.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an ESPACIO portfolio company.

The post Startup ecosystem growing in Vancouver appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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Connecting Software, a technological innovator providing integration, synchronization and productivity solutions, announced the launch of the Outlook Content Censor with the purpose of protecting internal content and communications. This feature represents a large step towards greater data security for both companies and users alike.

Outlook Content Censor is a powerful add-on feature of the innovative CB Exchange Server Sync, a product for self-hosted deployment. The new innovation aims to protect company’s exchange environments and prevent data breaches, while securely enabling external access to limited internal mailbox data. It also enables safe synchronization of items across servers and domains.

The solution was developed for any company with two Microsoft Exchange Servers: one internal-only and one for external access. The set-up requires a company admin to synchronize employee internal mailbox with employee external mailbox that is located in two different servers. Once the add-on is installed, the admin can set any filter, such as maximum characters or the removal of attachments. Employees retain access to the data without any sensitive information leaving the internal server. However, the level of visibility of the data can be controlled through the censor setting. For example, if the original email contains an appointment with attachment and confidential information, the amended email is viewed with attachments removed and the text body configured to display only 30 characters.

The feature is extremely impactful for sectors dealing with sensitive information. Particularly in banking, the traditional policy is that no internal email or calendar item can be accessed from a personal device. That’s almost impossible to manage for people with high-level appointments, subject to last-minute changes. They need to get their notifications even when outside of the network. Connecting Software developed Outlook Content Censor to allow them to do that without endangering the data of their company. They get freedom and flexibility and their employers don’t need to worry about data security.

“We want managers and administrators to think about data security preventively. Due to its power, Outlook Content Censor is likely to become a widely popular measure that could set a new standard for data security in the industry”, said Thomas Berndorfer, the Founder and CEO at Connecting Software. Allowing employees to access their data from outside the local network, while disregarding any breaches, is a win-win for both employees and employers.  

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company

The post Connecting Software Launches Outlook Content Censor, an Innovative Solution to Secure Internal Data appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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Since the financial crisis of 2008, the United States had offshored over 2.4 million jobs. It has become a usual and popular business practice, demonstrated by some 300,000 positions moved abroad annually even now.

Companies have many reasons to follow this trend: It lets them decentralize their operations and focus on their core business fully. Most importantly, it is perceived as a fundamental cost-cutting tool; 57% of companies see the cost efficiency as the main reason for offshoring. Sometimes this manifests through better financial conditions in the target destinations, such as tax benefits or financial incentives. But in most of the cases, it is driven by the desire to employ cheap, foreign labor.

How does this predisposition form the employer-employee dynamics? Companies that adopt a “profit-first” lense sacrifice important milestones of the employment relationship. Promoting company values and loyalty is side-lined and foreign workers become more likely to suffer from poor treatment.

Farrukh Mahboob, the Founder & CEO at VisionX & PackageX, New York-based AI solutions companies with operations in Pakistan, has been preaching a different philosophy towards his foreign workforce. Farrukh says that preventing alienation and uplifting every single individual fosters diversity and creates a win-win situation for both employers and employees. He sees the development of human capital and talent as the primary concern of each business.

StartupBeat spoke with Farrukh more in-depth about his management philosophy in an interview below, which has been edited for length and clarity.

StartupBeat: I understand you chose Pakistan because you wanted to economically enhance the lives of workers around the world. For businesses searching for their next or first international location, what countries or parts of the world would you recommend?

FM: I’ve worked and lived in six countries across four continents over the past 16 years in addition to spending a good part of my life in Pakistan. It’s always best to start from the position of your own strength. You might have a greater knowledge and understanding of the society, local dynamics, and the language along with the personal and professional network. Pakistan hence became the obvious first choice, and that is just the beginning. We have a strong team of 70 individuals managed on the ground by my Co-Founder & Managing Director.

Our client base and product deployment stretches over 28 countries. We have undergone an organic growth in the span of fewer than two years that allowed us to build up a global workforce in China and Europe, besides our US Headquarters in New York, where I am stationed, and our Chief Operating Officer works out of the Bay Area.

The long term strategic goal of VisionX and PackageX is to enable a global technology innovation and delivery ecosystem – we follow the best talent and weigh the elements of right leaders and partners in each country that align with our mission, vision, and operating philosophy.

Pakistan is strategically located with a population of 220 million. The literacy rate is as high as 87% and half is fluent in English. The technology and startup scene is building up fast with multiple incubation centers emerging rapidly. Likewise, the curriculum refresh and R&D activities at the leading technology universities are aligned with the global market and industry needs. The millennial and generation-z cohorts in Pakistan are as hungry for cutting-edge innovations as in any developed country. We see that as an opportunity for us: not only to connect global demand and supply for economic uplifting, but also to act as a platform for these demographic segments and unlock their dreams while maximizing their abilities.

At the end of the day, this world needs individuals who are self-aware, motivated, and ready to push themselves out of their comfort zone to level-up and be an active part of the society that thrives on mutual respect, trust, care, and passion to change the face of the world.

Long story short, any country with such ingredients is a valid choice. The key is for the business and startup founders to be willing enough to stand up and drive this global change, instead of looking at some countries only to outsource labor-intensive and non-creative work. It requires a new approach to create, build, nurture, and integrate global societies, industries, and markets. I call us a “mindset company” first.

With the right mindset, you can do wonders while sitting anywhere in the world. It is the main step towards the borderless future.  

StartupBeat: How important is the cultural similarity to the success of an international country expansion? And what can be done to close the gap between large cultural differences?

FM: Prioritizing culture remains the most critical factor of any startup or an enterprise. It is however two-fold. The first aspect is establishing core values and the operating philosophy of the Founder and C-suite. These global values stay mission-driven and align well with the country-level variations. The second aspect is to understand the culture of the markets, industry, and the customers we serve. Harmonizing culture across regions is challenging. We must partly retain the integrity of the local culture as long as the crux of our core values is followed each day. Connecting these two eventually defines who we are and fortifies the sense of community.

A couple of things to consider here include:

  • Enable a system of knowing and understanding each member of the global team and developing various cohorts feeding into global talent and performance management.
  • Provide a best-in-class workplace consistent with US standards along with opportunities to engage, learn and grow to build an effective community.
  • Hire for single skill-set across geographies to enable cross-cultural pollination.
  • Offer on-job training, international assignments, and participation in the company-wide events for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and connecting at a personal level.
  • Mandate customer-level understanding before the start of the new engagements to understand customers’ business, culture, and even the vocabulary these use.
  • Organize communication coaching activities with a due focus on emotional intelligence.
  • Organize travels of the executive(s) to the international sites every quarter.

StartupBeat: Do you find there is less unity between teams scattered across different countries and time zones? If so, how can a company mitigate these issues?

FM: Working remotely across diverse teams is a skill that we all must get comfortable with. It does get challenging at times due to various time-zones, and cultural differences. We live in a digital world that is up 24×7. The global workforce model with its inherent challenges is, however, the only way for businesses to go international. No way in the world, will we have the luxury of having all the talent in one city or a country. My philosophy is to go where the best talent lives, make them aware of what they are getting into with clear articulation of ups and downs. Nothing great comes easy, and the startup life demands a lot more with high rewards.

One of the critical areas we are optimizing is the task and progress logging every day. As an example, when our teams in Pakistan are ending their workday, the team in the US is starting theirs. They can do digital hand-offs to keep the momentum going. Besides enabling robust and agile development processes, what helps is including daily stand-ups via Zoom, collaboration on Slack, and tracking via Trello or JIRA. Companies across the globe generally struggle with these issues and we certainly see a lot of space for improvement here.

StartupBeat: What advice do you have for CEOs that are considering utilizing international talent for their business?

FM: As I mentioned above, this is the only way for you to scale and go-big. You must stay closely involved in the early part of the setup and establish mechanisms for the daily pulse available to you with actionable insights. At the same time keeping the leaders on the ground is a strong advantage. A simple principle of Jeff Bezos on staying customer obsessed makes a big difference.  

At the personal level, setting the foundation right along with empowerment and delegation is working out well for me. I also recommend traveling to all the sites periodically and allocate time to connect with the team members on the ground. People expect to hear from you more often, and that works as jet fuel for growth.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an ESPACIO portfolio company

The post Out of sight but never out of mind: On uplifting your offshore employees appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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Home cleaning service startup Mi Dulce Hogar announced its launch this week in Mexico’s Capitol.

The company, founded by Estefania Hernandez Barajas, has booked over 28,000 appointments since its launch four years ago.

Mi Dulce Hogar was founded in Guadalajara, Mexico to not only allow individuals to schedule cleaning appointments for their homes but also to ensure the well-being of cleaners and domestic employees on its platform.

On the platform all registered workers are provided legal benefits, life insurance, microcredit and even English classes.

In Latin America and the Caribbean region there are over 18 million domestic workers.

Despite being competitors in the market, Mi Dulce Hogar is differentiating itself throughs its efforts to ensure the well-being of its cleaners.

The post Home cleaning service startup Mi Dulce Hogar launches in Mexico’s Capitol appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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Cost per action (CPA) affiliate marketing network Admitad announces the launch of its free-of-charge Mobile SDK solution for full-scale CPA tracking. As part of Admitad’s mobile integration, this tool allows advertisers to gather and track CPA statistics from their mobile applications.

“Admitad’s Mobile SDK solution is the first to help advertisers that engage with affiliate networks to correctly attribute the root of sale to the proper publisher,” said Daniil Spitsa, Chief Product Officer at Admitad. “Advertisers can learn which ads bring in the most customers, and the SDK can even gather information to prevent fraud.”

Affiliate programs are a key driver to marketing strategies. However, there is a shortage of technological solutions for tracking users’ actions under the CPA model in mobile applications. As mobile e-commerce continues to grow – accounting for more than one-third of all U.S. e-commerce purchases last year – Admitad’s Mobile SDK is a much-needed solution.

Developers for online retail shops can seamlessly embed Admitad’s Mobile SDK into the mobile applications they create. Once the tool is integrated, the SDK will automatically determine the traffic source and whether it comes from a mobile or desktop device. If it’s mobile, and the advertiser’s mobile application is installed, a user is immediately redirected to the specific page in the app where user actions are tracked and sent to the Admitad tracking system.

“The Mobile SDK will allow commission gain without losses, increasing the conversion rate of advertisers’ programs. This, in turn, makes them even more attractive for other publishers.” Spitsa added.

Admitad is a cost per action (CPA) affiliate network that connects advertisers with publishers across the world to drive sales for advertisers. The company was founded on October 1, 2009 in Germany and its official launch took place on March 1, 2010. Among Admitad’s affiliates are advertisers such as Lamoda, KupiVip, AliExpress, Booking.com, GearBest, Qatar Airways, ASOS, YOOX, SHOPBOP, Papa John’s, L’Etoile, МТS, Delivery Club and others. Admitad works with more than 1,500 advertisers and more than 650,000 publishers, registering in total more than 5,000,000 target visitors per day.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company

The post Admitad Launches Mobile SDK, The Unique Solution For Advertisers To Track CPA Statistics From The Mobile Channel appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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Syslink Xandria, a global provider of SAP and cloud management monitoring and automation solutions, announces today that it has achieved Advanced Technology Partner status in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN). The company will also grant AWS customers access to an exclusive Solution Trial Offer that includes a health assessment report of their SAP landscape.

Syslink Xandria is a simple-to-use-and-install yet powerful SAP and cloud management solution. It offers performance-based AWS auto-scaling and hybrid, cloud, and on-premises SAP landscape management designed to simplify the operations of large-scale SAP landscapes. The solution automates SAP system cloud scaling based on an in-depth understanding of SAP performance metrics, business processes, and rules.

According to a Synergy Research Group report, companies spent $70 billion on cloud computing infrastructure services in 2018, with AWS taking up a large share of the market. However, as the technology develops and the popularity of cloud computing continues to soar, SAP landscapes are becoming ever more complex. Managing this complexity at scale, with high availability and reliability, is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

“Syslink Xandria provides us with the visibility we need to proactively manage SAP workloads across multiple clients,” said Aasif Karachi, Cloud Managed Service Practice Leader at Deloitte Africa. “Using Xandria on hundreds of SAP systems both on-premises and in the cloud, we’ve significantly increased productivity. This has led to increased client satisfaction and by leveraging automation and enhanced reporting we are able to visualize the entire system landscape in real time.”

Now, with Syslink Xandria’s new offering for AWS customers, companies can experience the benefits Xandria offers through an easy-to-install cloud deployment. In less than three hours, customers can install Syslink Xandria on any three servers running SAP for three weeks. The solution is designed to automatically detect the customer’s SAP and AWS systems and apply best practice monitors and thresholds, including operating system, database, SAP-specific processes, and more. The customer can get real-time visibility to their health and performance dashboard and access to other capabilities such as predictive resource planning and SLA reporting. The three weeks of Syslink Xandria’s monitoring, managing, and automating of the customer’s SAP systems will culminate in a written health assessment.

“One of the biggest challenges of SAP cloud migration is optimizing SAP systems in the dynamic cloud environment,” said Simon Wilson, COO at Syslink Xandria. “Syslink Xandria is leveraging the power of AWS to help SAP-centric businesses expedite their cloud migration and ensure cost savings and operational efficiency.”

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company

The post Syslink Xandria Achieves Advanced Technology Partner status in the Amazon Web Services Partner Network, Launches New Offering appeared first on StartUp Beat.

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