Aug

Reality of Bootstrapping

Going after investors? Do you know that less than 1 percent of startups actually raise VC (or angel) capital, which means that the vast majority are self-funded. Yet the main reason for it simply lies in the inability of most companies to find investors.

Bootstrapping, however, has several strategic advantages for your company's future growth. Perhaps the biggest is retaining the majority of shares and control over the strategy and direction your company is moving towards.

It also teaches financial discipline. Bootstrapping at the start helps to understand the importance of  revenue and cash flow, as opposed to unabridged product development, and keeps you connected to your company's financial reality. Only when profitability increase do you then green-light new opportunities, increased risk-taking, and growth acceleration.

In reality, the founders are expected to be flexible.  While entrepreneurs have certain intentions and philosophies when they are starting out, a hallmark trait for successful founders is the ability to adapt to changing environments and opportunities.

Sometimes, that means waiting a long time to generate the financial metrics that really matter, revenue and profit. By challenging your leadership team to focus on building the business organically and figuring out how to make the company consistently profitable on a model that can scale without VC capital, you make your company more valuable to future investors.

Interested in reading more? Check out our other blogs:

Integrated Real-Time Data Boosts Content Delivery

How to make content more relevant and appealing to the content consumer?

This is a problem that has been on the mind of content creators for some time now. In our age of information abundance it is not easy to stand out and make your voice heard. The competition for the consumer’s attention is escalating, and with the number of information sources ever increasing, it will only get tougher.

Traditionally, a content delivery does not change across the target audience. A commercial, or a blog, looks and is experienced in the same way by all viewers and readers. We are entrenched in this paradigm, and can hardly imagine it being otherwise.

It turns out, the advancement of new technologies capable of capturing individual intents in real time brings up new opportunities in creating personalized experiences within the framework of content delivery.  

This is how content can become more relevant - by becoming more personalized.

In a rudimentary form, we are already familiar with this approach as seen in online advertising. Some web and social resources aim at personalizing their promotional campaigns based on whatever drops of behavioural patterns and interests they can squeeze out of our web searches.  The problem, of course, is that the technologies used to power these campaigns understand human behaviour poorly and results, therefore, more often than not leave a great deal to be desired. To put it mildly.

nmodes has been working on semantic processing of intent for several years. We now can capture intent from unstructured data (human conversations) with accuracy of 99%. (Interestingly, many businesses do not require this level of accuracy, being satisfied with 90%-92%, but we know how to deliver it anyway).

We recently started to experiment with personalizing content by using available consumer intent.

We used Twitter because of its real-time appeal.

We started by publishing a story, dividing it into several episodes:

 

And we kept the constant stream of data flowing, concentrating on intent to dine in Paris:

We then merged the content of the story with consumer intent to dine in Paris as captured by our semantic software. Like this:

This merging approach shows promising results - the engagement rate jumped above 90%.

Overall we are only at the beginning of a tremendous journey. We know that other companies are beginning to experiment, and the opportunities from introducing artificial intelligence related technologies into content delivery are plentiful.

There is a long road ahead, and we've made a one small step.  But it is a step in a very exciting direction.

 

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Building Facebook Messenger chatbot: what they forgot to tell you.

                                     

There are lots of written tutorials and online videos on this subject.

Yet many of them omit important details of the bot building process. These details may vary from one user to another and are difficult to describe in a unilateral fashion. Consequently it is easier for tutorial writers not to mention them at all. We try here to fill the gap and provide some additional clarity.

1. Creating Facebook app.

One of the first steps in building a Facebook Messenger bot is creating a Facebook App. It requires a business Facebook page. This might seem obvious to avid social users yet worth mentioning: a business Facebook page can only be created from a personal Facebook page. If you already have a business Facebook page move on to the next step. If you have a personal Facebook page go on and create a business page. If you are among the lucky ones that live without Facebook presence now is your chance to become like everybody else.

2. Getting SSL certificate.

Next you need to setup a webhook. Your web application is hosted on a web server and the webhook’s role is to establish connection between Facebook and your web application via your web server. In order for the webhook to work you need SSL certificate because Facebook supports only secure connections (HTTPS) to external web servers. So first, you need to purchase it. The costs change from one company to another but it is important to buy a reliable certificate otherwise Facebook might reject it. All major ISP companies offer SSL products. Second, you need to install it on your web server. The installation process can be tricky. Sometimes you can get technical help from the ISP company that sold you the certificate (as a rule of thumb, the bigger the brand the better their technical support is supposed to be. But the cost may be higher too). You can also rely on popular tools, such as keytool command utility, assuming you know how to use them. In any case, it might be a good idea to allocate several days, up to a week, for this step when planning your project.

3. Choosing the server environment.

Your options are (almost) unlimited. Many online tutorials use Heroku which is a cloud-based web application platform, but a simple Tomcat web server would suffice too. Your decisions should be based on your business requirements.  A lightweight server such as Tomcat is a good fit when it comes to web centric, user facing applications. If backend integration comes into play, a web application server should be considered.

Your choice of programming languages is also broad. PHP is one popular option, Java is another but the list by no means ends here. Your chatbot app communicates with Facebook using POST requests, so any language that supports web protocols will work. Again, make decisions having your business goals in mind.

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