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Inspiring Innovators: Paula Paw Co-CEO of VersaFleet, On Being Tenacious

At SAP.iO, we work with innovative people and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we get to hear how founders, CEOs, and presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders.

Meet Paula Paw

Just four days after submitting her last exam paper, Paula Paw was offered a job at VersaFleet. Paula joined VersaFleet as a pioneering team member and played a central role in its growth journey. Graduating from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences, she started her career at VersaFleet in Sales and Marketing. Over the course of 6 years, she was promoted to Senior Sales Executive, Regional Sales Manager, Head of Sales Strategy & Operations Planning, and now leads the company as Co-Chief Executive Officer.

VersaFleet is a transport management software that optimizes route plans and fully digitalizes supply chains, all the way to the last mile. At VersaFleet, Paula now focuses on accelerating VersaFleet’s growth and synchronizing essential company functions, from sales & marketing, product design, and engineering, to finance and people operations. The company’s mission is to provide technology for all transporters — in any industry, market, or country. They built VersaFleet in hopes that the technology would enable the unsung heroes of logistics to get home in time for dinner.

“The goal for the coming years is to establish a stronger market presence so that we can serve the brands that face difficult challenges. When we help them, it will have a trickle-down effect, and the drivers will ultimately benefit; we are hoping to create a better work-life balance.”

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Inspiring Innovators: Daniela Schiffer Co-founder & CEO of Changers.com on nerves of steel

At SAP.iO, we work with innovative people and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we get to hear how founders, CEOs, presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders.

Meet Daniela Schiffer

Daniela Schiffer started studying art and worked as an artist until 2007 with the hope that art would be a tool she could use to influence change in society. After some time, she realized to achieve her goals she would need to find another way to influence behavior change. Working with an advertising agency doing a lot of communication primarily for high tech and renewable energy companies, she saw a different path forward. Daniela grew changers.com to address the issue of behavior change in terms of climate control, looking to incentivize and motivate sustainable and healthy behavior. Not a small undertaking by any means, this task takes perseverance and, at times, nerves of steel.

Today, Daniela Schiffer is Co-founder and CEO of Changers.com, a company that looks to change behavior through its CO2 Fit app. This app motivates employees to use a bicycle instead of a car, walk more often, use public transport, and participate in eco-friendly and healthy activities. Here employees learn more about waste reduction, healthy nutrition, energy-saving, and address green mobility. Changers is doing so by building an ecosystem for climate currency, meaning that by saving CO2, you earn climate coins to spend in their marketplace for products and services with partners. Changers was recognized as a EUPD TOP BRAND in workplace health promotion and by the Solarimpulse Foundation for efficient climate protection.

“I want to motivate people, not by showing them all the threats to the future, but by showing them how they can positively impact change by simple changes in behavior.”

Read more and watch highlights of Alexa and Daniela’s discussion here

Inspiring Innovators: Dustin Feld Co-Founder & Managing Director of adiutaByte on turning science into solutions

At SAP.iO, we work with innovative people and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we get to hear how founders, CEOs, presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders.

Meet Dustin Feld

When he was a child, Dustin Feld loved computers. He started programing before he learned another language, using his family’s old computer. “I can honestly say I wanted to grow up to be what I am today,” Dustin said, reflecting on what he thought he would be when he grew up.

Dustin studied mathematics and computer science at the University of Cologne, specializing in graph theory and layout, discrete mathematics, and numerics. Calling himself a “professional nerd,” Dustin focuses on efficient implementation and development of algorithms — especially mathematical optimization algorithms — in time-critical scenarios. He spent 10 years as a research assistant at Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing, then a Ph.D. student, and finally as a Post-Doc & Senior Scientist. This path set Dustin up perfectly to take on the role of algorithm lead and managing director of adiutaByte.

At adiutaByte he is responsible for the algorithmic backends and the algorithm design architecture. adiutaByte develops optimization algorithms for tour and personnel planning, digitizing processes, and reducing planning time and costs. The platform combines the best of both worlds: specialized human knowledge with algorithmic strength in mathematical optimization. A notable adiutaByte customer is the City of Berlin, which uses the technology for waste disposal and recycling, relying on adiutaByte for their optimization and powerful AI.

“We saw this crisis in the healthcare industry and knew our solution was really unique, patented worldwide, and has something special that can help in high tech areas like CPU manufacturing and here in the healthcare sector. And that’s how we started, with four founders, in one office, and with no clients, but with this inspiring core technology.”

Read more and watch highlights of Dustin and Alexa’s discussion here.

 

Inspiring Innovators: Christine Moon President & Co-Founder of BlueSpace on Staying Curious

At SAP.iO, we work with innovative people and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we get to hear how founders, CEOs, presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s very own Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders. Today we spent time with Christine Moon of BlueSpace to discuss how she used curiosity as a guide throughout her entrepreneurial journey.

Meet Christine Moon

Christine Moon is a perfect example of when life takes you to a fork in the road to look at it as an opportunity. Born in South Korea, she moved to the US as a child for her dad’s work. Not able to speak English and a new culture shook up her world, and she started to look at life differently as she learned new customs. A short time later, her family moved back to South Korea, and she faced another period of readjustment. The influence of other cultures allowed Christine to be curious and learn to enjoy the ride.

In 2019, her world changed once more. Apple purchased the company where Christine was working. As part of her curious nature, she sat back and asked herself, ‘what have we learned? What do we wish we had?’ the answer to that question was certainty. She wanted the certainty to safely deploy software that allows an autonomous system to “see” the velocity of all objects in all directions and scale it across geographies. This question led to a very different approach and inspired her to start a new company, BlueSpace.

Today, Christine Moon is president and Co-founder of BlueSpace, a company leveraging 4D sensors to provide a safety layer for self-driving vehicles. Their dynamic predictive perception software allows an autonomous system to “see” the velocity of all objects in all directions and won them the 2021 NASA iTech Cycle I award. Starting with Christine’s quest for certainty, they built a company that enables safety performance independent of any training data, a technology that allows for immediate reaction to new objects and scenarios.

“Be curious, and this is what I would share with my children or anyone who wants to think about this entrepreneurial journey and take the critical approach. Don’t be afraid to take a different approach to think outside of what you’re used to come up with a solution.”

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Career And Business Advice From VC Investors And A Billion-Dollar Female Founder

PS27 Ventures, an early-stage investment firm founded by Jim Stallings, hosted the Female Founders Forum on March 4, 2022, which among the speaker line up, included a panel of venture capitalists, as well as Ellen Latham, founder of Orange Theory Fitness, an exercise franchise that hit $1 billion in sales in 2018.

There were multiple takeaways specific to entrepreneurship — from what makes a good pitch deck to how to appeal to investors. However, many of the insights were also relevant for solopreneurs who don’t intend to raise money or even in-house professionals who don’t plan to start a business.

Tailor your message

“What can you do to make it easy for the investor to preview the company? Write up the email so it embeds the top 3-5 things to see right away. Make it easy to click on your website….If you’re on a pitch night, tailor to the audience. Create a 30-second, 1-minute and 5-minute elevator pitch, plus the pitch decks. You want different formats for audiences, for an initial introduction, for detailed in-person meetings. Accommodate…” — Sallie Jian, SAP.iO New York

SAP.iO is an incubator within SAP, the software company. Jian’s advice to make it easy on the investor is transferable to any relationship you’re trying to nurturecurrent boss, prospective employer, customer, colleague or other collaborator. While Jian’s example focus on good email writing (so important!), it also applies to your LinkedIn profile (include an easy way for people to get in touch) or even email signature (include your website or LinkedIn URL so people can easily learn more about you).

Creating multiple pitch formats depending on where you are is another gem applicable to both business owners and professionals. You want to have different ways of introducing yourself (the networking pitch) because, depending on the situation, you will have more or less time and your audience will want to know or need to know different things about you. Accommodating your audience, as Jian rightly puts it, is a way of showing you understand and respond to their needs.

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Black is the New Green

Black is the New Green showcases amazing black entrepreneurs, investors, and more talented individuals who share how they overcame challenges on their success. Episodes occur on Wednesday with audience Q&A.

Kange Kaneene, VP, SAP.iO Foundries North and Latin America is interviewed by foundry and influencer Michelle Taylor Willis.

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Analyst Cam: Kange Kaneene, VP SAP.iO Foundries North & Latin America

As we have moved to virtual briefings, I have increasingly been excerpting short video segments (with permission) as part of my Analyst Cam series.

This time it is Kange Kaneene, VP, SAP.iO Foundries North and Latin America

SAP.iO is SAP’s strategic business unit to incubate startup innovation and drive new business models for SAP. SAP.iO Foundries are SAP’s startup programs, including accelerators, that enable startups that can deliver value to SAP customers. Today, there are SAP.iO Foundries in 10 strategic innovation hubs, including San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Tel Aviv, Singapore , Bangalore, Shanghai and Tokyo. Each Foundry runs one to two cohorts/programs a year, incubating 15-20 startups at each location.

Kange does a really nice job summarizing in under 15 minutes their impressive track record (started in 2017, they have incubated/accelerated over 370 startups), the value proposition for SAP customers, the startups and SAP itself. She also profiles some of the recent cohorts. She would also welcome interest from startup entrepreneurs from our audience who meet their filters.

Kange has facilitated presentations for me from several of the startup in the cohorts last year which focused on sustainability. They are presenting to me over the next couple of weeks and I will profile them in this series.

Awesome to see so much global innovation.

Watch Interview Here!

Q&A: Andy Cockburn, CEO and Co-Founder, Mention Me

Andy Cockburn is CEO and Co-Founder of Mention Me, the Referral Engineering™  platform for growth-obsessed ecommerce brands. Since co-founding the business with Tim Boughton in 2013, he’s scaled it to employ more than 90 Referral Experts who have delivered more than 4 million referrals totalling £1bn in revenue for clients.

Prior to Mention Me, Andy was the UK Managing Director of HomeAway, the world’s largest market-place for holiday rentals (that floated on the NASDAQ for $3bn), and formerly the founder and CEO of Wigadoo, a technology start-up in the social payment space.

He has an MBA from INSEAD and MA from Cambridge University.

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SAP Startup Spotlight: GrainChain

SAP invests in a lot of promising startups, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all of them. E-3 Magazine has selected the most interesting companies to showcase in our SAP Startup Spotlight Series. In this article, we will take a look at GrainChain.

Luis Macias, CEO of GrainChain, is an innovator and entrepreneur that has nearly 20 years of experience designing, inventing, and implementing technological solutions in the government, agriculture and insurance sectors. Since 2013, when he founded and implemented SiloSys and developed GrainChain’s transaction platform using smart contracts, he has been focused on viable agricultural solutions. In this interview, he explains his vision for GrainChain, how it is connected to SAP, and what’s next for the startup.

E-3 Magazine: What does GrainChain offer?

Luis Macias: GrainChain has developed a platform that is leveling the playing field for producers, buyers, storage operators, lenders, and all other participants on the global agricultural supply chain.

How does your solution work?

Macias: Our solution combines blockchain and IoT-driven technology to verify and auto-execute smart contracts, creating fully automated and digitized workflows at every stage. The GrainChain platform provides a central, single point of truth that brings all participants on the supply chain together with transparency, efficiency, and reliability of data.

Why do customers use your solution?

Macias: GrainChain has worked with customers using limited to no digital technologies all the way up to global conglomerates with the latest technology. Our products are customized based on our client’s requirements and their existing tools, which can be easily integrated with our platform. Our clients use these solutions to gain business efficiencies, reduce operating costs, reduce business risks, and to become more attractive to lenders. Customers also use our solution to meet traceability and transparency requirements for all participants along the supply chain.

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MarTech Interview with Jim Dicso, CEO at SundaySky 

In order to ensure that video marketing efforts are optimized with measurable ROI processes, marketers need to keep a few things in mind; Jim Dicso, CEO at SundaySky has some tips:

Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Jim, can you tell us more about SundaySky and your role as CEO? 

SundaySky helps companies of all sizes deliver video-powered experiences (VX) that deepen engagement, inspiring customers to take actions that are both valuable to them and impactful for the brand.

Customer engagement has always interested me. I spent the majority of my career in sales and sales leadership roles, specifically in the software industry. Previously I was EVP of sales and services for a SaaS provider of real-time online customer engagement solutions. I joined SundaySky a decade ago as president and chief revenue officer and handled all market-facing activity. Then, in 2017, our co-founder and CEO, Shmulik Weller, moved into the role of chief product officer and I was named CEO.

How are you seeing marketing and sales teams today use video more proactively to create better prospects and customer engagement? Can you highlight examples of some successful campaigns in both B2B and B2C?

We have case studies covering a wide variety of applications across the customer journey both in B2B and B2C.

In B2C, SelectBlinds uses VX via paid media to acquire new customers, as well as in emails following initial trials to drive sales. The content of the videos focus on guiding consumers on how to measure and self-install window treatments, which are common friction points on the path to purchase. The results of these certain campaigns can speak for themselves: the holistic lifecycle-focused programs earned a 37% lift in email conversions and a 20% above-average order value increase.

eTrade delivers VX through email and portal placement during critical moments in customer journeys including onboarding new account holders with details on how to easily leverage their trading platform. The company’s initiatives have led to increased funding rates and a lift in average annualized revenue for the business.

Another household name, Bank of America, delivers compelling individualized VX through email, portal and chatbot, providing Preferred Rewards members with the status of their accrued benefits and additional ones available through greater product use. This strategy during moments of uncertainty has led to deeper customer relationships, as well as a sizable increase in product usage per customer.

Video is being used in B2B with great success, too. For example, Okta, an identity provider for the internet, uses VX to engage new customers (i.e. IT admins) and increase their understanding of its platform in order to increase usage and future revenue. Additionally, Terradatum, a market analytics platform that helps real estate brokers and agents, uses VX for agents and agencies to market their listings while marketing themselves.

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How Staple is Helping to Power the First Mile of Data Processing

We talked to Ben Stein, CEO at Staple about converting documents into structured data and here is what he said about it.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Ben Stein: We are all doing well, thank you! Like most of the world, all team members have been involuntarily separated from friends and family. Our team is decentralized across Singapore, Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka. Our relationships have shifted online, and that is something we have grown accustomed to. Thankfully our team, our families and our friends are all doing well.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Staple.

Ben Stein: I previously worked with KPMG in Australia, Europe and North America for almost a decade, then in various corporate positions in London and Singapore. After working with clients in banking, energy, manufacturing and real estate, I noticed persistent inefficiencies in both enterprises and SMEs around data management. I left my CFO position at the time to explore how deep technology (“deep tech”) might present potential solutions to these inefficiencies. I joined EF (joinef.com), where I met my co-founder, Josh, a Ph.D. computer scientist. Together we met with more than 150 companies to understand their most pressing pain points, and we built Staple to address them. 

Staple’s solution can read, interpret, extract and reconcile data from semi-structured and unstructured documents, regardless of layout or language. Currently, we support more than 90 languages, and we are helping customers process data-heavy workflows in Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indonesian. 

How does Staple innovate? 

Ben Stein: There is a lot of hype around big data, RPA, AI and analytics and their potential to rapidly accelerate the digitalization of business. What many don’t appreciate is that these technologies can’t function without a core ingredient: clean, structured data. RPA and bots are fantastic innovations, but they can only work with structured data. There is so much reliance on data, yet enterprises struggle to access, unlock and use it at scale because the data is not available in a standardized, accessible format. Without structured data, RPA bots cannot function, analytics tell an incomplete story, and information for decision making is either not timely, inaccurate, or not useful. 

Many businesses are unable to reap the benefits of automation technologies as they cannot cross the divide between structured system needs and the unstructured or semi-structured realities of business. It’s the classic adage of “garbage in, garbage out”: unless meaningful, accurate, standardized data is ingested from the outset, RPA and automation implementations will fail. It’s important that digitalization agendas have proper regard for the “first mile of data processing.” 

We dedicate a lot of effort to building software that employees actually enjoy using, as opposed to software that employees are forced to use. We don’t think there should be a distinction between software for SMEs or software for the enterprise; it should all just be software to be more productive. We also have a sharp focus on developing solutions that anybody – from the most junior employee to a highly technical CTO – can use. We’re working on tools that allow non-technical users to develop new AI models without touching a line of code. This introduces a level of flexibility that was previously out of reach for many users.

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Getting Energized to Level the Playing Field

A conversation with Amanda Niklaus, PPA Transaction Manager in the renewable industry.

The Road Less Traveled

What initially drew you to the energy industry?

During my Master’s studies, there was a mining boom in Australia. A lot of money was put into energy research, particularly for oil and gas. The Head of my university department suggested that I pursue mathematical economics in energy and work with some prestigious supervisors from the industry which I did. After graduation, I worked as an economist for the government and then in investment banking where we were looking at M&A opportunities. At the time, I found working within this very male-dominated industry a bit unsettling, and left for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) where I worked on providing training for investors and traders and we looked at battery viability for participating in different markets. A lot happened and changed over the time I worked there and that is one of the elements I like about the power market sector: it’s very dynamic, constantly evolving.

When I came back to Switzerland, I read about Pexapark. They were very new at that time and had a lot of potential. I thought it would be exciting to work with a focus in renewables and to help developing a business. I was right — it’s so far been an incredible experience to be part of and contribute to Pexapark’s development and growth.

What’s the most satisfying part of your role at Pexapark?

I really enjoy working across markets and looking at different issues, that clients are encountering or questions they are trying to answer. While our business is very specialised, I feel like a request is never ever the same. It’s always new, there is so much to learn constantly!

What’s your secret sauce that you bring to work with you each day?

A ‘can do’ attitude and resilience.

Making Strides in Renewables

What thoughts are going through your head (if any) and what are you experiencing when you find yourself to be the only woman in the room?

That’s often the case to be honest. With clients, I do not let that disturb me, I cannot. Otherwise I am going nowhere. It is of course harder to ignore for someone who works in this environment every day. There are many studies about the ‘Onlys’ — referring to the only woman in a team. A notable one is from McKinsey, showing that women in this situation often receive judgement or doubt about their own area of expertise. They feel under a constant pressure to provide a proof of competence compared to their male colleagues. The sad part is that you don’t know if it was intentional, or it is just a dynamic of the competitive environment. That is not always clear. What is clear to me — there is a way to improve the situation. A more gender- balanced team is very important and I’d like to think I try my best to influence in that direction.

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SAP Startup Spotlight: Future Grid

SAP invests in a lot of promising startups, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all of them. E-3 Magazine has selected the most interesting companies to showcase in our SAP Startup Spotlight Series. In this article, we will take a look at Future Grid.

Chris is the co-founder and CEO of Future Grid. He is dedicated to helping utilities around the world to integrate renewables at scale and thus decarbonising the grid. With over 20 years of experience in the energy market working for companies like AusNet Services, AGL in Australia, and the startup GridNet in San Francisco, he is well connected within the industry. Chris is a wine connoisseur, a coffee lover, and enjoys riding his bike. In this interview, he talks about what his company has to offer and what’s next for Future Grid.

E-3 Magazine: What exactly does Future Grid offer?

Chris Law: Future Grid is a software that turns smart meter data into improved grid reliability, asset management, and customer safety. Our software creates new visibility into the health of critical yet ‘invisible’ electricity assets such as wires, transformers, and fuses in support of the transition to renewable energy. Using Future Grid’s software, utilities are empowered to manage the increasing shifts in power quality due to renewables. Utilities can then deliver safe and reliable electricity to their customers. That’s how Future Grid is enabling the renewable grid of the future.

How does your solution work?

Law: Future Grid is a software that works by creating a real-time feedback loop that updates key utility systems with real-time insights from invisible assets within the grid. The Future Grid software has been designed to integrate many different sources within the utility, including smart meters, to create a near real-time ‘map’ of grid assets and network health. Future Grid will then execute a range of real-time analytics and integrate the results back into key systems such as SAP, ADSM, and GIS for operational actions. We call this the feedback loop, as for the first time, utilities have the ability to take grid edge data from smart meters (and in the future DER) and feedback real-time insights to help inform grid operations and control.

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SAP Startup Spotlight: Net2Grid

SAP invests in a lot of promising startups, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all of them. E-3 Magazine has selected the most interesting companies to showcase in our SAP Startup Spotlight Series. In this article, we will take a look at Net2Grid.

Bert Lutje Berenbroek has 20 years of experience in the semiconductor business with innovative companies in Silicon Valley and Boston. He started Net2Grid 10 years ago with the vision that access to real-time energy data is a necessary piece of the puzzle supporting the energy transition. In this interview, he talks about what his company has to offer and what’s next for Net2Grid.

What Does Net2Grid have to offer?

Bert Lutje Berenbroek: Net2Grid is an AI-enabled software company which turns energy consumption data into personalized and actionable insights, empowering end users to become energy efficient. Our clients are energy companies based in Europe, North America, and Australia who offer our products and services to their clients. Increasingly we see interest in our services by tech and financial corporations, too.

One concrete example of what our services can do is the successful collaboration we have with E.ON Germany. Net2Grid is the hardware, platform, and NILM (Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring) supplier of E.ON’s app iONA. Through iONA, customers can view and control their electricity consumption in detail, helping them prevent energy guzzlers, compare devices, and gain an overview of the breakdown of costs. E.ON Germany saw a customer engagement increase from 3 minutes/year to 120 minutes/year after adopting Net2Grid’s energy insight solution.

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